Talent acquisition leaders face real pressure to align their talent agendas with business priorities, manage a changing workforce, and improve the candidate experience. At the same time, nearly 70% of companies believe that the existing talent pool is shrinking while competition is increasing.

In such challenging times, talent acquisition needs to create new operating models, where stakeholders are collaborating in pursuit of shared goals. To gain insight into the priorities, strategies and best practices surrounding talent acquisition, Cielo surveyed more than 1,100 HR, procurement, business and C-Suite leaders across the globe for the newly released Talent Acquisition 360 report.

To discuss the report’s findings, and hear firsthand how they impact business in APAC, Cielo recently hosted 20 regional talent acquisition and HR leaders at a Talent Rising executive roundtable in Singapore.

Overall, attendees shared the belief that talent acquisition needs to go beyond process management and become a true partner for the business. This new model will be characterized by recruiting expertise, consumer-grade candidate and hiring manager experience, as well as improved technology and analytics.

While APAC HR leaders understand that the business wants talent acquisition teams to do more than just reactive recruitment, and actually get involved in long-term succession planning discussion and strategy, they also acknowledge that the skillsets are just not there yet.

“There is an evident gap in the capabilities of talent acquisition teams to meet the changes in the recruitment function, such as social media campaigning, employer branding, design thinking, experience/service mindedness, and effective use of analytics,” said Manish Verma, Head of HR, Cargill. “There is incompatibility between the current recruiter skillset and the tech-driven market needed. The TA function needs to upskill to close the gap and provide better outcomes.”

The skills gap also is hindering APAC talent acquisition teams’ ability to improve and manage candidate experience. Leaders don’t feel they have the skills to be consultative advisors for useful tools like analytics, market maps, digital marketing, etc. Beyond that, many attendees said their teams are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of requisition responses and fulfilment and simply don’t have the time, capability or technology to focus on making sure candidates are having a positive experience.

From TA 1.0 to TA 2.0
The roundtable welcomed special guests from Sanofi, who lent insights and shared their organisation’s journey toward bringing a consolidated tech- and brand-enabled solution for 10 countries in Asia. This move from “TA 1.0 to TA 2.0” represents many key messages from the Talent Acquisition 360 research.

Sanofi had been operating a country-based talent acquisition resourcing and support strategy in APAC that was not efficient. The organisation knew it needed to centralize the function to establish standardization and efficiencies to bring about greater innovation, enhanced stakeholder experience and overall value to the business. This also extended to improving the sourcing expertise and bringing a strong market-based view to talent insights and hiring decisions. The company had to decide whether to try to meet these challenges using internal resources or look for a recruitment partner. Sanofi eventually sought out Cielo, and the partnership has helped them rise as a talent magnet in Asia.

Strategic Workforce Planning
The main opportunity we discussed for Asia was around alignment of talent acquisition and business priorities and communicating those to various stakeholders across the organisation. If there is not agreement on what good looks like between HR and the business, or how success will be measured and recognized, it sets up a fundamental gap that is harder to close down the line. This also extends to adoption of Strategic Workforce Planning, which seems to be a mixed bag in Asia.

Celine Ong, Head of HR Delivery, SEA, Korea & Taiwan, Smiths Group, said, “Whilst strategic workforce planning is a critical driver of transparency and communication between business and HR, enabling better planning and outcomes, its implementation is still inconsistent across organisations and even across business units within the same organization. This limits TA from being proactive and strategic and therefore effective.”

Total Talent Acquisition
There was no doubt among attendees that Total Talent Acquisition (a single, concerted strategy for acquiring different categories of talent, including permanent, contingent, freelance, project-based, etc.) is the way of the future, but it became apparent from our discussion that the contingent talent category is currently outside the purview of most TA teams or HR. Interestingly, many in our audience commented that in key markets such as China and India, they were not seeing the worldwide move toward flexible work patterns, saying that the concept of “flexibility” was not as pervasive – often unheard of, in fact. This makes it clear that in Asia there is a gap between the vision (a single, coherent overall strategy) and the current dynamic (fragmented, not joined up).

“Taking an integrated approach to talent enables organizations to become more agile and efficient,” said Ken Wong, Procurement lead for HR & Consulting Category, Sanofi. “In highly matrixed and complex organisations within the APAC region, the ownership of Total Talent Acquisition is an ongoing discussion that has not yet found an answer. It is still very much determined by budget lines.”

TA Technology
The subject of technology, including AI, in talent acquisition generated much excitement among attendees, but many admitted that they have yet to develop a cohesive approach within their organisations. What often happens is that APAC companies use ad hoc technologies and operate in silos for activities like assessments, screenings, interview scheduling and video interviewing.

“We have our own HRIS technology that includes an ATA as well, which is rolled out across the region,” explained Phuong Huynh, Asia Head of Talent Acquisition, Sanofi. “We then leverage our RPO provider’s tech suite to drive additional functionality such as candidate engagement, sourcing campaigns, talent community develop, among others.”

Quality of Hire
“We are seeing an increasing trend across our client base where traditional measures such as time to fill and cost are now considered basic hygiene factors,” said Paul Daley, Cielo’s Senior Vice President – APAC. “We are witnessing a shift in assessing TA performance and it is moving away from measuring process efficiencies to tracking quality of hire and experience.”

Cielo’s research shows that quality of hire is incredibly important to business leaders, but that these leaders have an inconsistent understanding and expectation toward it. This has led to them using basic factors such as new hire retention as the primary measure. After some healthy brainstorming, our attendees agreed that talent acquisition and the business should align on a holistic view to assess quality of hire. Some of the options they discussed include:

  • Performance ratings of the candidate turned employee for the first 3, 6 or 12 months in a job (requires an integration between the ATS and HRIS systems)
  • Employees’ contribution to the team measured as a 360-degree feedback
  • Relationships they have built within the organization and how they have entrenched themselves within the culture of the department and organization

How to Meet Talent Acquisition Challenges
Talent acquisition in Asia must rise to stay ahead of the changing market landscape, evolving talent behavior and myriad technological innovation. Businesses can begin this journey by investing in and building a talent acquisition function with a revised strategy that takes the future into account. For many organizations, the main challenge to adopting talent best practices is a lack of internal resources, which makes enlisting the help of an outside partner a viable option.

But it takes all stakeholders being on the same page, starting from the C-Suite.

“Without the needed top-level push, the vision of the strategy will face execution challenges,” said Desmond Williams, Managing Consultant, JET Corporate Development. “Deploying a programmatic approach to talent acquisition, say using Recruitment Process Outsourcing, is not complicated, but it does require adoption and ownership with the hiring managers and end users, which will be easy when the C-Suite is driving the vision and articulating the need for change.”

The Talent Rising event was an incredibly productive meeting of the minds, and served as a timely reminder of the power of collaboration. Such frank and open discussion provided another level of real-world depth to the insights found of Cielo’s new research, focusing on solutions that will shape the path ahead for talent acquisition in Asia.

Download our new report, “Talent Acquisition 360: Aligning Talent Priorities for Business Success.”