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What is Innovation? Well, it depends on who you ask.

If you are a Human Resource or Talent Acquisition Professional, you are inundated everyday with ideas on how to effectively compete for the talent you need. You challenge yourself and your team to find new ways to engage ever more passive candidates. You strive to create an environment that is forward thinking in its approach with a focus on diversity and inclusion leading the way. You seek to elevate your brand and create a positive experience for everyone, including those that are not chosen to join your team this time around. You want your culture to be a reflection of the values you have as a company.

To be clear, I am a Talent Acquisition “Nerd”. I love the industry. It has provided some amazing experiences for me. I have had the chance to work with, and for, incredible people. Conversely, I have seen the industry lag behind in terms of innovation. Sure, we are at the early stages of automating parts of the hiring process which is an amazing thing in and of itself. The sheer number of Artificial Intelligence products designed to make sourcing easier/quicker are examples of this rush to innovate. On its face, this is an awesome step toward significant change in how we all do what we do. I would argue that is not enough.

As an RPO Solutions Provider, we offer technology solutions designed to create speed and efficiency in your pipeline. We also understand that some processes are not easily automated and that for the foreseeable future, engaging, attracting, and hiring talent will still be an intensely human process.

So if technology and streamlined processes aren’t silver bullets, then what is?

First, there is no silver bullet. However, we believe that one area ripe for significant improvement lies in how we think. As an organization, I would suggest that our desire to guide change in the way you think about acquiring talent is potentially our greatest asset. We try to focus those we come in contact with on thinking differently, experimenting, falling forward, and failing fast.

One example of thinking differently would be to try to view the transformation of your Talent Acquisition efforts through the lens of Consumer Driven Innovation (CDI).

The website (July 27, 2015) explained a key CDI concept this way:

“Consumers often buy products and services that help shape the image they have of themselves. If you understand that phenomena and develop your programs to help the customer associate your product with their self-image, you’ll be more successful.”

If you just imagine the word “Consumer” being replaced by “Candidate”, the application of this concept comes into focus. Simply put, realizing that candidates are the consumers of what you have to offer as a company changes the way you see them, and more importantly the way you view what you are offering. Applying CDI practices to how you attract, engage, and hire talent could provide you with real forward motion in building the processes and ultimately, the culture you need to compete for and retain top talent.

Now, it may sound snarky to say this, but a good friend of mine who is a truly innovative thinker in the employer branding space recently told me that, “the days of throwing some LaCroix in the break room have come and gone!”. This statement was accompanied by a slight rise in the tenor of his voice and some very energetic hand gesturing.

My point, and his, is that if people truly buy products and services that reaffirm their self-image and we apply CDI to talent, why would we believe that free food or some other similar perk that does not align with the candidate’s core values would ever draw the best talent to us? I am not advocating for a ban on LaCroix in the workplace (it is very tasty). I am suggesting that we begin to craft our talent acquisition efforts to match the things that really matter to the people we are trying to hire. This can happen at both the macro (employer brand) and the micro (candidate screening call) levels.

Please consider that very shortly, Gen Z will be the largest generation and will be entering the workforce in ever increasing numbers. Do you know what they value most in an opportunity? Is your messaging designed for them? Is your culture built for them? Do you know how to engage them?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, you might want to consider incorporating new and different thinking into your talent transformation efforts.

We understand being a change agent is challenging. Some companies embrace it. Some do not. Our advice to our clients who find themselves unprepared for the quickly evolving values of the workforce is to invest in understanding, in great detail, just who you are trying to hire and what matters to them.

Remember, the definition of innovation depends on who you ask.

Ron Godier, Managing Director