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2021 Rise of the Phoenix-Strategic Talent Acquisitions!!!

By Manjuri Sinha, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, OLX Group

Manjuri Sinha, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, OLX Group

2021 can be that year when Talent Acquisitions teams can win a long-deserved seat at the table and become an equal enabler for business decision making. 

Within weeks of the COVID 19 outbreak in the world, especially in Europe and the USA, daily news updates were overrun by countries announcing lockdowns. With businesses being impacted, of course, this was followed by mass layoffs. Recruiters and TA professionals all over the world were amongst the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Organizations of all sizes started immediately downsizing their sales, marketing, business development, and recruiting teams. 

It is scary to think that when a tragedy strikes TA is one of the first teams that is considered dispensable. Why is this? I gave this some thought, also discussed this issue in a number of virtual panel discussions and webinars. I had the opportunity to speak last year. Two clear unanimous reasons that surfaced were; TA is seen as a transient professional service, the only value it is perceived to bring in is to bring in new people, and add headcount to the organization. Second, TA is not seen as a highly valued capability that organizations would want to prioritize to nurture and build on. In layman’s terms, it is not as respected as other branches of Human Resource Management.

"We as TA professionals have also not helped change this perception, and unfortunately have kept on feeding into the age-old rhetoric, so much so that almost everyone believes that the role of a recruiter can easily be taken over by a Robot in a few years, which is clearly not true or factual"

We as TA professionals have also not helped change this perception, and unfortunately have kept on feeding into the age-old rhetoric, so much so that almost everyone believes that the role of a recruiter can easily be taken over by a Robot in a few years, which is clearly not true or factual.

2020 has taught a lot of lessons to the various industries, the pandemic has pushed for new trends, which are already living in, new ways of working are on the horizon, and this is the most ripe moment for TA leaders and professionals to set the tone right and renew the image of the field itself. 

To step up our game, my recommendation to any inhouse TA team would be to focus on the following three topics:- 

Be a driver and initiate the discussion and action on Reassessment of needed capabilities in your organization with the push into working from home, remote work, we are bound to see a new model of working altogether. Some employees would want to come back to offices 100% whereas others would like to continue working from home. In the last months, we have seen the working population move from bigger cities to smaller towns with a lesser cost of living. Will this trend continue, we are yet to see. One thing is for sure, most product and tech organizations will be working in a hybrid environment, with either 100% remote teams, or a distributed set up. This would mean that employees and leaders both will need to have capabilities of Resilience, grit ability to thrive in the face of uncertainties. Having an outward view TA teams can step up and research on the upcoming trends in the industry and analyse the same, this can then be fed back into hiring assessments, talent development, etc. This enables the leadership to hire & develop the right talent for the future challenges, especially for Leadership development and hiring, to ensure that new leaders who join and grow in the organization are fully equipped to lead, motivate and engage remote teams, which ultimately drives productivity. 

Be an equal partner in Headcount Planning; let's face it, for tech, it will continue to be a candidate-driven market, with the choice of remote and hybrid models, companies will have to be very precise in deciding where and when they would hire from. To enable such a decision, there will be a lot of data needed about the talent market, availability of talent, seniority, relevant experience, longevity, preferred benefit, contracting models, usual tenure, etc. In house, sourcing teams are best equipped to dig up this kind of data for relevant talent markets, analyse them in the context of your business and advise the business leadership on further steps. 

Take the initiative and work on hiring and onboarding strategies for a Hybrid workforce:- As per a survey conducted by Sifted, in Berlin alone, 41.2% of respondents mentioned that they would want to continue working from home in the post pandemic world. Another survey from the USA showed that 30% of respondents would quit if they were not allowed to continue WFH post pandemic. Given this, we will surely see a world with a hybrid workforce, hence our existing strategies of hiring may be redundant. Our hiring models would need to support remote + physical branding, sourcing, and assessment techniques. This presents an excellent opportunity to tap into diverse talent as well; with more WFH opportunities we could aim at a better gender balance in hiring for example. HR Tech can play a big role in the new world too, for example as a lot of the hiring would be remote, this is also the time to use Video interviewing technology for efficiency and speed such as Hirevue. Remote onboarding is another area where tech can support and enable such virtual onboarding programs, and platforms like @talmundo and enboarder. 

With the above 3 steps, an internal TA team makes a switch from being a repetitive activity and elevates itself to a strategic advisory function. There are a zillion more examples of such actions, however the decision on where to start and what to pick up should be based on the maturity of the existing TA team capabilities, as I love to say ‘ Choose your battles:- Live to fight another day’. 

I am personally super optimistic that this year we will see some very unique paradigm shifts in the world of talent acquisition. We need to tighten our seat belts and be ready to take the driver seat. 

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