3 Steps to a Rapid and Effective Talent Acquisition Functional Audit

By Linda Brenner | July 21, 2020

You've read enough articles - and as a business leader, you've personally experienced - the impact COVID-19 has had on nearly every industry. On the extremes, some industries are shedding tens of thousands of jobs (travel, hospitality, in-store retail) while others are hiring in similarly large numbers (healthcare, e-commerce, retail pharmacy).  Everyone in the middle is experiencing disruption due to greatly accelerated remote work arrangements as well as financial pressures that include workforce reductions. Many of these organizations are bound to face permanent change as to how business is conducted and staffed in the future. Across the board however, companies must streamline and improve their ability to rapidly hire diverse, high performing talent.

Based on our experience completing recruitment audits across dozens of industries over the last decade, we recommend these three rules of thumb:

1. Include, but don’t go over-index on, qualitative research.

In the context of a recruitment audit, the goal of qualitative research is to identify trends in thoughts and opinions about how talent acquisition is working across the organization (or a targeted area of the business.) The intent, therefore, is not to talk with or survey every person who interacts with talent acquisition (which, let’s face it, could be almost everyone in the organization) – but rather to gain insights from individuals who represent key stakeholder groups. With that in mind:

  • Interview or survey a cross section of stakeholders representing senior leadership, hiring managers, HR partners, internal and external candidates, and the recruiting team itself.
  • Ask a structured set of common questions across the stakeholder groups that will allow for the identification of relevant themes.
  • Focus on gaining insights into what’s working well about talent acquisition and what needs to improve.
  • Take copious notes (or, if surveying, capture relevant data) in order to report on themes across business units, stakeholders, geographies, etc.
  • Keep in mind that some of the stakeholders may not be familiar with how recruiting should work (e.g., they’ve never experienced talent acquisition outside their current company) – or, in cases where managers use recruiters as an additional administrative assistant of sorts, may report high satisfaction in TA – in spite of actual dysfunction.

2. Work hard to include quantitative data.

In the world of recruiting, it is often true that data is hard to access or is inaccurate. Or both. Talent technologies that aren’t integrated, applicant tracking systems that aren’t used consistently, requisitions that aren’t opened or closed in a timely way – any or all can muddy hiring data. But don’t give up looking for data-based results. Here are, from our experience, recommendations that will help you focus on the most critical and directionally-accurate data.

  • Start with hiring data straight out of payroll, if you must. Look at trends over the last two years in hiring, termination and internal mobility. This will help you state the headlines about people movement across the business, in different locations or business units, in critical functions and even for specific hiring leaders.
  • Stay away from stating – or becoming distracted by – general averages across the organization (for example: “Our overall turnover is only 8%. We’re doing great!”) Dig into the views that are most important to the business – uncovered in the qualitative work - such as key geographies or business units, critical functional areas such as IT or sales, or other classifications of employees – in order to identify meaningful and actionable talent trends.
  • In our experience, the number of reqs opened – and reqs closed – over a period of time (say, two years) can provide important insights into time to fill, percentage of cancelled reqs, req load by recruiter, etc.
  • Calculating a simple and general cost per hire (overall talent acquisition spend + RPO and agency costs) divided by the number of reqs managed by talent acquisition in a year will also provide a baseline that can be evaluated against industry benchmarks, prior year costs, etc. It’s not going to be perfect – perfection is likely unattainable here and unlikely to be worth the time and energy – but it will be directionally correct and can be drilled down further if merited by the initial look.

3. Avoid the DIY approach of conducting the recruitment audit on your own function.

Even the best-intended Talent Acquisition leaders are likely to find themselves in a situation in which motives are questioned at the conclusion of a do-it-yourself recruitment audit. Results and recommendations of an audit often indicate next steps such as increasing headcount, redesigning the recruiting process, changing technology or employer branding – i.e. new investment in the function. Extricating yourself from the ensuing questions and suspicions – Is he trying to build an empire?  Didn’t we just buy new technology a few years ago?  Why does she think an EVP make-over will change things?  Etc. – will be difficult. Whether you hire an outside team of objective experts who specialize in audits and recruitment process improvement – or simply engage a cross-functional team of insiders to complete a structured audit program, bringing others in to lead the recruitment audit will increase the likelihood that the organization will fairly consider and adopt the recommended changes.


Learn more about Talent Growth Advisors' Recruitment Audit and how you can self-fund talent acquisition improvements.

Or contact us to speak directly to one of our senior consultants about Talent Acquistion audits.

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