The Most Effective Recruitment Process in the Toughest Talent Marketplace

By Linda Brenner | April 28, 2022

At first glance, nearly every organization already has what they may consider to be multiple processes. After all, the way executives are hired is different from how, say, front line service workers are recruited. And different hiring managers often insist on customized approaches to their own hiring (one likes looking at every resume, another wants nothing to do with hiring until the very end). But in general, companies differentiate the way they approach talent acquisition by level – the greatest investment is put into hiring executives (search firm fees or passive candidate research and recruitment, etc.), the next highest for professionals, and the least for front line employees.

But this peanut-butter approach across levels no longer works in our knowledge economy. The need for scarce skills is widespread and dramatic and is organized vertically rather than by levels. Companies of all sizes and industries are competing for roles such as developers, data analytics and digital marketing – at all levels.

What then are the most effective recruiting processes for modern recruiting functions competing in this talent marketplace? We recommend the idea of organizing hiring processes by level be thrown out the window. If not, you’re investing more than you should in some roles, and too little in others. Let’s face it – some senior leader roles are not as hard to fill as others – and some front-line roles are incredibly difficult to fill and critical to the business. Depending on your industry and the types of roles and skills you seek, you might need two, three – even four – different process versions to cover executive hiring, professional, passively-sourced talent, early career talent, etc.

So, if not by level, how should an organization segment, organize and prioritize talent acquisition efforts?  Our recommendation is to consider two role-specific dimensions: the availability of talent in the marketplace for the position, and the ability of the role to drive (versus support the driving of) enterprise value. Therefore, on such a matrix, roles such as Developer or Product Engineer might be considered ‘low talent availability’ and ‘value-driving’. On the flipside, a Sales Rep or Marketing Coordinator might be considered ‘high talent availability’ and ‘supporting the driving of value’.

This is not to suggest that some roles are not important; all roles are important or they wouldn’t merit a head count in an organization. Rather, the questions to answer are two-fold:

  • Do the skills required to do this job well exist in great amounts in the marketplace (e.g., one year of work experience and a high school degree) or are they scarce (e.g., 5+ years of Java development experience and an undergrad in computer science)?
  • Does the position drive enterprise value through the creation of intellectual capital – e.g., new products, technologies, strategic customer relationships, brands, IP, etc.?

In the process of answering these two questions, four distinct hiring processes unfold:

  1. Low Talent Availability, Drives Business Value
  2. High Talent Availability, Drives Business Value
  3. Low Talent Availability, Supports the Driving of Business Value
  4. High Talent Availability, Supports the Driving of Business Value

How should these hiring processes differ from one another? Here are 5 examples of talent acquisition process differentiation across these four types of hiring:

Talent Acquisition Metrics:

While speed, cost and quality are ultimately the most important talent acquisition metrics, it’s not practical to expect to nail all three with every hiring effort. Quality of hire (how long a new hire stays and how well they perform over time) is essential to roles that are responsible for creating business value. So, hiring an “A” player as Director of Engineering at an aerospace engineering company would be the bullseye outcome. Cost and time to hire?  Important, but secondary to quality. On the other hand, filling hourly retail roles in a rapid and cost-effective (and, of course, acceptable quality) way would be important.

Candidate Experience:

The cost of acquiring talent with scarce skills in high demand in the marketplace is vastly different than attraction efforts for other roles - and the candidate experience should reflect that. Wooing software engineers, for instance, requires researching and contacting passive candidates and, perhaps, building a relationship with them over months. The relationship should be tailored to their interests, communication preferences and employment considerations. This involves investing deep recruiting expertise and significant time (including research to understand what will attract these candidates) toward the effort. On the other hand, for high volume entry level hiring the process should be technology-enabled, simple, rapid and professional.

Selection Process:

Organizations must walk a tightrope when selecting top talent with scarce, critical skills. If the process is too long and arduous (many interviews, assessments, multiple trips in, etc.), candidates will drop out because they have other options. However, if the pendulum swings the opposite way, and the process is too fast and superficial, poor quality of hire can result – a devastating outcome for the filling of business-critical roles. Therefore, the selection process needs to be carefully conceived and balanced to properly assess the candidate’s functional and cultural fit for the role while keeping them engaged and interested in the position and the company.

Hiring Manager Involvement in Recruiting:

With some exceptions, it’s important that hiring managers are involved in the final selection decision regardless of the type of role. But their involvement should be very streamlined for high volume roles such as sales, customer service, etc. In such cases, they should only be presented with candidates who have been fully vetted and the selection process should be fast, consistent and measurably effective. But for roles that require passive candidate sourcing, hiring manager involvement earlier and strategically throughout the process (e.g., networking, meet-and-greets with prospects, etc.) is essential to winning top talent.


Because every recruiting team operates with limited resources, not every new hire can experience the thorough, resource-intensive onboarding process that we might want to provide them. And, in truth, not every position requires such an approach. Again, new hires selected for critical roles should have a more personalized, in-depth process tailored to them and their role. They may even require coaching to effectively resign their current job (and prevent candidate loss to counter-offers.) Conversely, new hires in high volume, entry-level roles should experience a rapid, professional and technology-delivered onboarding approach that requires less hands-on involvement from the company.

Considering factors such as talent availability and business criticality – rather than the level of the role – is an essential first step to building a modern, business-based talent acquisition model that will drive tangible results.


Contact us for help in designing your differentiated recruitment processes; we'd love to talk about talent acquisition.  

You may also want to read Recruitment Audit Tips: 3 Suggestions for Success.

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