by Emma Hydes
Vice President - Client Development

Talent acquisition teams looking to accelerate their organization’s recovery and improve the long-term outlook should focus on role segmentation. Identifying and prioritizing roles and skills essential to the business strategy can have a significant impact on TA‘s ability to deliver value to the organization. A talent strategy based on segmentation by pivotal roles is best equipped to overcome challenges with lasting results.

Pivotal Talent is Key to Business Performance

Every organization has core roles that are critical to the company’s performance and key to gaining a competitive advantage. But they’re not the same as your “top performers,” the individuals who excel in your company. It’s an important distinction.

Identifying pivotal roles and pivotal talent is about identifying and maximizing value for your customers – in turn driving more value for your business. Pivotal roles aren’t the value creators, who directly generate revenue.

They are the value enablers, who make the creators’ work possible. These roles typically support the organization’s core service or product. They deliver on the brand promise – making client satisfaction possible.

Pivotal roles are the jobs and positions that provide indispensable work that enables your company to operate more efficiently and cost effectively. While they typically make up about 10-15% of the roles in a business, the impact they have on your business is far greater.

At an IT company, pivotal roles could include Service Desk Agents, who provide important communication between the company and its customers. In a hospital, nurses are an example of pivotal roles. In the case of a medical devices company, pivotal roles could include staff at manufacturing sites.

Pivotal Roles and Pivotal Talent

For talent acquisition, maximizing pivotal roles means identifying pivotal talent. This is the talent with the critical skill sets needed to succeed in your company’s pivotal roles.

Figuring out what it takes to attract and hire the talent needed for pivotal roles can improve business performance and influence the long-term success of your organization.

Understand what your pivotal roles are, how they might have changed recently and how to leverage them. It will help your talent acquisition team think more strategically and match value to roles and the skills or capabilities required to be successful in those roles.

Where to Start

Figuring out what your pivotal roles are requires a focus on what provides value to your customers. Evaluating the customer experience or customer journey mapping can provide valuable insights into how your customers receive value. Here are a few keys:

  • Focus on the factors that influence your customers’ decision-making process. Figure out which experiences or processes create value for your customer, and which pose the greatest risks. In the case of Service Desk Agents, a lack of talent in this service-oriented segment would be detrimental to your customer experience. Knowing the factors that influence their decision-making process will help you uncover the roles that have a significant impact on value for your customers.
  • Understand that pivotal roles vary by industry and organization. Your pivotal roles could be different from your competitors. Start by identifying the experiences or processes that create value for your customers. In the previous example of an IT company, there is value in the customer’s ability to receive troubleshooting help, making the Service Desk Agent a pivotal role. Think about when and where your customers receive value to identify your own pivotal roles.
  • Assess and improve your internal mobility program. Which employees have the right skills to succeed in your pivotal roles? Internal promotions typically perform better than outside hires. Filling pivotal roles internally can lead to better results faster. Encourage referrals, which can help fill many of these roles with qualified talent ready to make an impact on day one.
  • Think about the new ways of working that have grown in popularity this year. Determine the new ways of working that can meet your future talent needs, like remote working and virtual/remote communication tools. Updating your recruiting messaging to reflect how your organization has embraced these changes can help you better attract potential candidates for your pivotal roles.
  • Assess your Employer Value Proposition. Make sure it aligns with what’s most important for this segment of your workforce, so that candidates can see the value of working for your organization.

Thinking Ahead

Segmenting your workforce to identify critical hires and pivotal roles is a great starting point. It’s an important foundation for your talent strategy, and it should also lead to some additional questions that you need to answer.

Considering the significant recent changes in recruiting, what do you need to do to attract, engage, hire, onboard and most importantly, manage pivotal talent? Can you successfully onboard new hires for your pivotal roles with a onboarding process? Do the pivotal roles at your organization lend themselves to remote working?

Understanding how to bring in and retain the talent needed in your pivotal roles will help you develop your competitive advantage. It’s what sets apart strategic, difference-making talent acquisition.


By asking the important questions about talent acquisition right now, CHROs and talent leaders can get to work figuring out the right way forward. And they can show other business leaders in the organization that TA will help build a successful long-te...

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