Seeing the Whole Picture of Digital Talent Acquisition

We spend so much of our time dwelling in the details, and in the tactics of getting our job, that sometimes we lose sight of the big picture. When you are worried about the conversion rate of an ad or how much to spend promoting a Facebook post, you might forget how big and complex the ecosystem that you work in everyday has become.

Let’s start by mapping out the world of the talent acquisition director. Below is an illustration showing all the major channels that draw large numbers of candidiates. Some channels are better at moving people toward job descriptions on the ATS, while some are better at getting people to the career site. There’s probably nothing surprising here:

The old way of thinking about talent acquisition

For some people this is a very easy way to think about all the tactics they have at their disposal and how to array them; it also helps when you need to add a new tactic: where will it go? Where will it drive candidates? Do we need more help there?

But the world above is a slightly dated one. Social media has been embraced by both candidates and recruiters. Moreover, most modern HR/TA teams have engaged ATS-aumenting web software that optimizes job descriptions for search engines, wraps job descriptions with interesting content, and automates job alerts. Suddenly, the map gets more complicated. When you add these new elements, the job of the talent acquisition director to select, manage and use these channels effectively gets tougher.

The new way of thinking about talent acquisition

I won’t suggest that this map is exhaustive and comprehensive (though maybe a little exhausting), but it gives a good sense of how complex things have become. With so many channels and tactics at your disposal, how do you mangage them all? Well, you don’t. In the same way that you aren’t looking to hire an “average employee,” you don’t use these channels against all candidiates. Some channels are far more effective at reaching one type of candidate than another. For an example you can see below, an entry level candidate is going to be relying on certain channels to find a job.

Segmenting for entry level digital talent acquisition

In the real world, you know your recruiters will spend far more time on higher-level candidates. Entry-level people don’t have much experience or network, so LinkedIn isn’t as useful. But these new candidates will be living on social media and Glassdoor. They also click on ads. Based on this map, you can see what part of your web site will draw entry-level candidiates.

How do they differ from an IT candidate with five years experience?

Segmenting for 5 years experience level for digital talent acquisition

With some wins under their belt and skills that can be searched, suddenly recruiters and LinkedIn comes into play. And since they are becoming experts at something, they are inclined to read native ads and content. Social media will start to play a much smaller role.

When you start to focus on a sales professional with 10 years experience, the map changes dramatically yet again:

Segmenting for 10 years experience level for digital talent acquisition

While they are still occasionally clicking ads (and we have the data that shows that they are), these professionals are starting to think farther ahead. Rather than waiting to look for a job, they keep their network active and maintain relationships with recruiters. At the same time, they’ve already targeted which companies and roles they want, subscribing to job alerts and newsletters from their favorite companies.

And as you move higher up in the company, more changes in job hunting behavior occur:

Segmenting for 20 years experience level for digital talent acquisition

The high-level executive, the one who will have a huge impact on your bottom line, isn’t surfing around and clicking on the “apply now” button. They might only reach out to a handful of companies. This means that long before it is time to make a move, they’ve mentally narrowed down their list of interesting companies to their favorites. They search for news and content from those brands, and they maintain close ties to those recruiters. A big ad spend or social media strategy will not get them to apply. At most, it might put your company on their radar to consider.

And as complicated as these maps get, think about what they look like in the aggregate:

If you don't segment your digital talent acquisition strategiets, things get messy in a hurry

Why do I illustrate the complexity of your world? Isn’t this like pointing out that it’s only Monday? I’m not trying to be cruel, but instead trying to highlight the value of thinking from a higher perspective. Any one of these tactics can have dozens of different companies vying to help you manage them, but do they see the big picture? Do they talk to one another to provide you with the best possible solution set?

Or are they looking to maximize their share of your wallet?

In the very near future, the role of the Talent Acquistion Director will be less about calling recruiters to task or investing in the next tactic, but in managing a very big and complex set of processes from the only vantage point that can see it all. Yours.

You shoudl follow me on Twitter @TheWarForTalent

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  1. Hi James,

    It’s an interesting read! Thanks for your thoughts!
    Can you elucidate ‘ATS Support’? Can in interpret it as an CMS with interactive elements? Do you have examples?
    In my opinion (as a marketeer) ATS Support and Career Site should be one platform to measure the effectiveness off campaigns.

  2. James Ellis


    I was referring to software like TalentBrew or ATS-specific add-ons that enhance the look, feel and value of the ATS, but it doesn’t have to be the career site.

    For example, if you look at Target’s talent acquisition, they have a seperate career site to hold more content and a Job Search site (their ATS support). But there’s no reason why they can’t be the same.

    Thanks for the comment!


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