Talent acquisition

The time and money you invest in recruitment will (should) yield in your company having the best talent and this is where your competitive advantage will come from


By Kevin-James Fenech

Kevin is the founder and owner of JOB Search - jobsearch.mt and FENCI Consulting fenci.eu.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employers spend on average $4,129 on hiring per vacancy. Talent acquisition is fundamental to all companies but it is bewildering how so many of them get it wrong or only half right.

Let’s deal with the basics: a company should always reply to applicants; be it to ‘acknowledge receipt’; to inform them that they were unsuccessful and/or to advise that the vacancy is closed. Unfortunately, it has become common practice to communicate with the shortlisted candidates and ignore/forget the rest of the applicants.

Engage HR experts to draft a good job description. I don’t know how many times I see a poorly structured job description which is badly written and/or inadequate. If you want the best talent to apply, you have to invest the time to write a clear and attractive job description.

If the vacancy doesn’t exist, don’t advertise ‘phantom vacancies’. It has become common practice to throw out the proverbial ‘wide net’ just to see what comes in. This is bad practice and an abuse of trust. Some companies or recruiters even have rolling ‘phantom’ vacancies which they advertise month in, month out.

When it comes to interviews, I am amazed and bewildered with how unprofessional companies can be. I am thinking of interviewers walking into an interview unprepared and asking questions off the top of their head; or asking politically incorrect interview questions; letting functional managers hijack the interview process; and/or allowing interviewers to not take structured notes in interviews. It should be elementary, to have in place a semi-structured interview process; different interviewers for different stages of the interview process; to set tasks so as to assess the capability or suitability of interviewees; and most important to work with skilled, trained and experienced interviewers.

Here is a controversial one - and some recruiters will hate me for it - but large companies owning sizable employer brands shouldn’t depend on recruiters to find their external recruits. I always advise clients of a certain size, to own their own careers page; to use vacancy platforms or job search sites to advertise their jobs and consequently eliminating the 'middleperson' charging 15% to 25% commission. I mean you are better off investing the recruitment commission which you save, in your own recruitment structure. Don’t get me wrong, you will always need to work with recruiters and I strongly suggest using experienced external interviewers but wise-up especially if you own a big employer brand.

You also need to find the right balance between external hires and internal ones; nothing can be more demoralising and disrupting to employee moral than an employer that always recruits externally. Conversely, an inward-looking recruitment policy which doesn’t encourage the introduction of new blood breeds an unhealthy viscous cycle of promotion from within which leads to nepotism or managerial clones. The ideal, is a mix of the two; external recruitment plus internal promotions. Some companies need more of one than the other, depending on their individual circumstances and where they are in the business cycle.

Try to always make sure that the new recruit meets the CEO; yes, he/she is very busy but it is very important for both parties to meet each other. The prospective employee needs to meet the Chief of the organisation and understand the company’s vision and culture, whereas the CEO needs to feel the pulse of the talent coming in. People / talent is what makes great companies and therefore the CEO must invest the time to meet interviewees.

Don’t over rely on technology; recruitment, interviews and talent-management are and always will be an art. Interviewees are human and therefore you must keep the human element in the entire recruitment process. Yes, you need highly experienced interviewers and HR specialists who have been trained in the art of searching, assessing and selecting talent but this is one area where technology has a limited role to play.

Don’t look at recruitment as a cost; the time and money you invest in recruitment will (should) yield in your company having the best talent and this is where your competitive advantage will come from and what will make it difficult for your competitors to copy you. I always get the impression that HR is underestimated in local companies, when in truth HR is one of the most important pillars of any great company. Talent is where the real competitive advantage resides; invest in it.

We all want to be successful in business but if we don’t give recruitment the importance it deserves we will struggle to be successful. The customer is always right (apparently) but if you don’t have the best talent you will not win the competitive game of business. Therefore, make the effort to invest in your recruitment and talent acquisition capabilities; starting with the basics. 

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