Talent is the most important asset for propelling growth and moving the business forward. CHROs should take time to challenge their teams – and the business – to determine what’s needed to embrace and pursue critical adjustments to their talent acquisition and retention approaches.

By asking the important questions right now, your team can get to work figuring out the right way forward. And you can be equipped to show other business leaders in your organization that your team will help build a successful long-term future.

1) As a business, do we understand what our pivotal roles are?

Identify which roles deliver on your brand promise and differentiate the organization in its market versus those that support business operations. The quality of the talent in these roles directly influences the long-term success of your organization.

Right now, HR and talent leaders need to be asking what the pivotal roles are within their businesses. For healthcare, this could mean nursing talent. In life sciences, where supply chains are assessed for risk, Supply Chain Managers are key.

Working with the C-suite and other leaders within the business, identify and agree on the pivotal and key roles that support your organizational strategy. This also is a good time to take a fresh look at your employee value proposition (EVP). See how well it aligns with the values of the type of people you have and need in those pivotal roles.

Identifying pivotal roles and updating your EVP will prepare you to research the availability of ideal candidates. Then you can plan a more targeted and effective candidate generation strategy.

Additional questions to ask:

  • Have critical roles changed given recent shifts in the business or in the industry?
  • Does our strategy to fill these roles remain industry leading and get us top talent?

2) How can we better leverage our internal mobility strategy?

Talent acquisition teams need to work with the business to understand what future skills will be in demand. Then, figure out where the organization can find talent that provides those skills.

Smartly managing the human capital in your organization can be done without just looking outside for new talent. Internal mobility can be a powerful asset for addressing your talent challenges and strengthening workforce morale.

Your current employees already fit your culture and know the business. They’ve given you commitment and patience during the pandemic, and they want to trust that their future career lies with you. It’s a win-win for the organization and the employee. The numbers back up the benefits of internal mobility, with 60% of employers stating that internal promotions perform significantly better than external hires.

To be strategic about workforce planning, prioritize and champion Learning & Development to cross train people before the next role presents itself. Sixty-six percent of L&D pros say their function is now a much more strategic part of their business.

Recognition communications can help you enhance and make the most from your internal mobility program. Share success stories internally. Celebrate those top performers who make internal moves and managers who proactively promote them.

Additional questions to ask:

  • Will our hiring managers advocate for internal mobility over hiring people from outside our organization?
  • Are my TA leaders working with the business to identify where talent gaps exist?
  • How does our internal mobility program support equality? Is it measurable?

3) What are we doing to maintain a positive reputation as an employer?

A positive reputation is vital for attracting top talent. How you treat your employees today has repercussions for your reputation for years to come. HR and talent leaders need to be confident that the business is cultivating and maintaining a positive employer brand.

To gauge your employer brand, audit the full talent experience. Look at everything from candidates first engaging with your brand, through the recruitment process into their time as an employee and their exit and alumni experience.

Make sure your careers website provides potential candidates with a modern experience including all the info they need. Offer micro-EVPs tailored to different talent segments based on research.

In addition to your careers site, consider a review of your talent or careers-focused social media. A competitive analysis can uncover potential improvements. You can also audit and then actively manage external review sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed to ensure your employer brand is performing well vs. your competition.

Additional questions to ask:

  • How are we capturing feedback from current employees? How do we act on that feedback?
  • What are our “alumni” or former employees saying about us?
  • What is the experience for unemployed individuals or job seekers when they interact with our business right now?
  • Does our careers website provide information about whether we’re hiring right now? Does it clearly explain how the recruiting process might have changed?
  • How are we creating a culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion?

4) Are we using the right TA technology in the right way?

With this year’s dramatic shift to virtual approaches talent acquisition teams are growing more comfortable relying on technology throughout the recruitment process.

There will only ever be an increase in the number and type of new tech solutions for automation, experience, data and process. TA and HR leaders need to create flexible, sustainable strategies for technology that deliver positive experiences for all stakeholders, while improving efficiency.

Evaluate your current TA tech solutions based on how they impact your process. Also consider the user experience and how easily the solutions provide insights. CHRO peers who use different technology ecosystems can provide perspective on technology your team hasn’t used.

Engaging a technology consultant is another effective way to analyze your needs. They can help curate available tech to make recommendations. Speak to a variety of vendors of platforms or point solutions. Knowing all of the possibilities will help you find the best solutions for your TA function.

Additional questions to ask:

  • What behaviors are changing for key stakeholders (candidate, recruiter and hiring manager)?
  • Are your current TA tech solutions widely accepted and adopted by your function? Are they the optimal solutions for your needs?
  • How does the value provided by your solutions compare to their cost? How much time does your technology save the team? Do your solutions provide the metrics needed for visibility of business performance?

5) How can we prepare to scale up our TA when the time is right – without incurring early fixed costs?

Some organizations’ cost-saving measures impacted talent acquisition functions, directly affecting their ability to handle a ramp up in hiring. TA functions need to be nimbler in how they adjust to changing needs.

The demands on TA teams are complex and evolving quicker than ever before. They require a broader range of skills and flexibility than your current team may have capacity to achieve by themselves.

To understand your current scalability, evaluate the internal and external TA resources available to you based on cost vs. benefit. Consider whether some of your internal resources with fixed costs could be replaced or improved externally. External partners like an RPO provider can provide the scalability you need while also lowering your fixed costs.

Additional questions to ask:

  • If and when business leaders need to fill pivotal roles, will the TA function request more budget to be ready to do it quickly and effectively?
  • What changes do we need to make to improve our ability to do that? How can we maintain a great candidate experience?
  • How can we build a function that can easily scale up when needed, without costing a fortune? Part of that answer could be in figuring out the right mix of in-house vs. outsourced responsibilities for recruiting. Another part of the answer could be internal mobility. How can we find the right talent – already on the payroll – to help fill pivotal roles?

Looking Ahead

It’s difficult to have answers for every talent acquisition challenge. The best place to start getting ready for whatever could be next is by asking the right questions.

By asking the important questions – both to themselves and to their TA function – CHROs can prime their teams for transformation. They can also better support the strategic goals of the business.


The latest round of town hall discussions with Cielo clients focused on preparations for recovery and how organizations are staying focused on the health and engagement of their people. The insights shared in these discussions can help HR and TA leader...

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