Today’s Talent Acquisition Model

We’ve Been Using Band-Aids to Fix a Broken Leg! 

When I started in Talent Acquisition (TA) twenty years ago, I had no Applicant Tracking System (ATS), no social media and no employer brand strategy. No one was a ‘black belt sourcer’, there were no “hackathons” and we still sweated the newspaper ad deadline. By Jo Vohland August 23rd, 2016, 

The world kept moving and the internet changed the way we work, buy, do business and communicate. One small step at a time TA adapted to these changes. The problem, though, is that for 20 years now, we have been applying Band-aid after Band-aid and what we have really got now is a broken leg.

This dawned on me during my discussions with some of the brightest Talent Leaders from Australia and New Zealand at the Talent Management Leadership Summit (TMLS) 2016 held recently in Sydney.

Case in point:

Diagnosis Shiny Band Aid
Oh the efficiencies that technology will bring! We implemented an Applicant Tracking System and we thought we were done!
Recruitment is Marketing We developed employer branding strategies to make our organisation look and sound better so as to increase our level of attractiveness for candidates.
It’s no longer enough to keep writing job ads and processing thousands of applications We developed sourcing strategies, improved our online presence and increased our digital footprint. Some taught themselves boolean string, others became black-belt sourcers.
Candidates are Consumers and we’ve been creating candidate resentment We are sprinting to create a personalised and respectful candidate experience that will engage and impress people.
Freelancing the new black It’s acronym city in the world of Contingent Recruiting.  Choose a MSP or CMO, get yourself a VMS but don’t forget your SOW!

The world keeps changing and challenges just keep mounting. How many more Band-Aids will we apply before we recognise that it is the model in which TA sits that has reached its used-by date? After all, you can’t fix a broken leg with Band-Aids. So we re-set. This was the exact challenge that my table chose to solve at the 2016 Talent Management Leadership Summit – Create the Talent Acquisition model for 2020 and beyond. 

In this discussion, Jonathan Reyes of CBA introduced us to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth buyer model and how he has been thinking about how TA could adopt the model.

Candidates are customers and their behaviours are changing as technology and information evolve. TA needs to be able to create an experience that mirrors what candidate experience is as consumers.

Jonathan, Garth Flynn of TQ Solutions, Jamie Simon of SEEK and I really had a lot of fun fleshing this out. After much debating, listening and brainstorming, we came up with a brand new TA model and it aspires to change Talent Leaders’ attitudes and behaviours from:

  • Being subjective and reactive to objective and proactive;
  • Viewing candidates as a commodity to an asset;
  • Being compliance and process driven to experience and advocate driven;
  • Being a cost centre to a value centre (dare we say profit centre).

This is the version of Zero Moment of Truth model we had came up with, where the “buy” is when the candidate applies for a role:

Talent Acquisition Zero Moment of Truth model

We estimated that the typical large scale TA function today may spend 10 percent of the time and resources on raising brand awareness. We recommend increasing time and resources on employer and people brand assets and campaigns to 20 percent as we incorporate it into our post-advocacy and pre-social validation cycle.

Social Validation

The rise of peer based reviews via and Glassdoor now mean that candidates get an inside look into the organisation before deciding to apply or to create a connection and relationship with you. It’s been a long held view that only the disgruntled or exceptionally delighted get on-line to review, so putting some extra 10 percent energy and resources into managing your profiles seems sensible.

The Purchase

This refers to application though to hire. We estimated that currently most talent teams spend 80 percent of their time on the arduous task of selection that happen post-buy (post-application). Through the move to a more touchless and predictive selection model using the amazing new tools out of the market today, we would drive this down to 40 percent of the function’s time. The increased focus in the other areas of the model also meant we go to market less and recruit from an eco-system of connected customers (candidates) that we are establishing and nurturing along with people referred from our advocates.


We estimated that TA currently spends perhaps five percent of its time and resources on candidate and employee ‘experience’ and this should really be up to 20 percent. To get a better idea of how a candidate and employee “experience” should be like, check out the inspiring work that Bupa has done recently! And now Talent Board, with the introduction of the CandE (candidate experience) awards, is firmly setting down the challenge to TA functions to respect the candidate, realise they are potential consumers and advocates, and to stop creating brand resentment! Talent Leaders can also incorporate Human-Centred Design Thinking (HCDT) methodologies to create amazing work experiences and produce brand advocates. Talent Futurist Kevin Wheeler recommends to reframe work for engagement and focus on the following factors:

Emotional – feeling connected, relevant, important

Social – collaborative, technologies & work structure

Aspirational – Potential opportunities, career

Intellectual – Work content, structure and challenges

Physical – Workplace environment & personal health


As you can see, the focus strongly moves from ‘producing’ activity to ‘relationship’ activity. This also allows us to move from mostly lag indicators to a mix of lead and lag and produce dynamic reporting.

Needless to say, our model was met with feverish excitement by the Talent Leadersip community. Trust me. I don’t have photographic evidence. You’ll just need to imagine the standing ovation and rounds of applause.

Thank-you to my fellow team mates Jonathan, Gareth and Jamie for helping make the Talent Management Leadership Summit 2016 our most innovative and successful Summit to date!

I hope that sometime around 2040, a new generation of talent leaders are sitting around determined to throw out our model and move with the times.

Pin It

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *