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4 key takeaways on Talent Operations expertise

Le métier de talent ops

“Talent Operations” and “Recruitment (or Recruiting) Operations” are areas that are increasingly heard of in the HR industry. They actually refer to the same thing. Simply put, Talent/Recruiting Operations aim to help recruiting teams perform as efficiently as possible. How? Essentially thanks to recruiting strategy and process optimisation and the implementation of recruiting tools (artificial intelligence, data, digitisation, etc.). So what do you really need to know about this new area of expertise?

Increasingly popular in the field of talent acquisition

Talent Operations (also referred to as Talent Ops, Recruitment Operations or Rec Ops) first made an appearance at the end of the 2010s, although some aspects of Talent Operations have been around for a lot longer. During the 2010s, however, these somewhat vague roles were quite rare, albeit more common in some countries including the USA.

Talent Operations gained momentum during the pandemic

The recent health crisis and its impacts on the market led talent acquisition experts to adapt to new challenges, i.e. candidate shortages, more demanding candidates, etc. Optimising recruiting processes went from being a challenge to an absolute necessity.

And that’s where Talent Operations roles properly began to prove their value. The good news is that companies are starting to come to grips with the importance of having a fully-fledged position dedicated to increasing recruiting efficiency.

Already in 2020, the Talent Edge* survey series polled senior business leaders and human resource executives within large businesses in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe regions, the Middle East, and Africa, asking how they anticipated the change in their organisation’s focus on emerging talent management strategies over the next year.

67% ranked “Talent operations and technology” higher than other strategies such as internal mobility, employer brand, social media, etc.

*Deloitte & Forbes Insights

The number of vacancies in Talent Ops has skyrocketed

Since, the quantity of job offers in the field of Talent Operations/Recruitment Operations has been on a constant rise.

On LinkedIn for example, and in Europe alone, nearly 80,000 vacancies appeared for the search term “Recruitment Operations” (October 2022).

Although large companies and consulting firms are those in the most demand for these types of roles, smaller enterprises and startups also want in. These evolving fields of expertise have become increasingly popular, even beyond the United States.

Talent Operations experts support recruiters without engaging in recruiting per se

The first thing you need to know is that members of Talent Operations teams are not recruiters. They are, however, closely linked to the world of recruiting in that they assist talent acquisition teams in overcoming their daily challenges.

Recruiting Operations provide solutions to recruiting challenges

Recruiting Operations serve to help recruiters:

  • Automate a number of time-consuming tasks
  • Reduce time-to-hire
  • Minimise cost-to-hire
  • Monitor data and improve data security
  • Find new ways to attract talent
  • Etc.

Their scope of action is wide-ranging, which is why Talent Operations don’t encompass one single expertise, but several. Talent Operations profiles and specialisations vary according to the company the experts work for. Roles can vary from one business to another depending on numerous criteria, including industry, maturity, internal organisation, investment potential, etc.

Talent Operations: Scope of action

Talent Ops are involved in a broad range of tasks and usually distribute their efforts around 5 key steps.

Auditing existing recruiting processes

This is the very first responsibility of any Recruitment Operations employee, and nearly the most important one at that. This step consists of drawing up a situational analysis of the recruiting process the company currently follows, including:

  • Internal organisation and each team member’s role
  • Budget allocated to recruiting, and budget structure
  • Method of execution (manual or automatic)
  • Available data and data use
  • Quality of hires

Data collection is performed in house, but can also draw on interactions with candidates, who are a precious source of information on the state of current recruiting practices.

Thanks to this preliminary analysis, Talent Operations can then take action to improve one or several sticking points uncovered during the audit, whether organisational or related to candidate experience.

Defining recruiting objectives and problem-solving strategies

In collaboration with recruiting executives, HR teams more generally, and senior management, Talent Ops experts set business objectives in relation to talent acquisition and hiring. In order to succeed, experts must have extensive insights into the labour market and related challenges, the company’s goals, where it stands, etc.

Global objectives are always quantified in figures, the reason being that one of the advantages of having a Talent Operations expert on the team is that they work to improve recruiting processes by drawing on real data, and they measure the efficiency of their endeavours based on how this data evolves. No more guess decisions!

Recruiting process optimisation (which includes the way the recruiting team is structured) is therefore a central component of Talent Ops responsibilities. In identifying opportunities for improvement, Recruitment Operations experts implement appropriate strategies to improve on sticking points. Recruiters then simply follow the Talent Operations specialist’s recommendations to improve the recruiting team’s productivity and the quality of their hires.

Most of the time, such strategies comprise different stages which help prioritise the biggest challenges, try out options that work out best for recruitment teams, and then finally deploy a wider corrective action plan.

Implementing recruiting tools and monitoring their efficiency

Generally speaking, optimising recruiting processes involves resorting to specific tools. This is a task for Talent Operations experts. In addition to establishing relevant needs, they are responsible for choosing which tools will be necessary, ensuring deployment and adoption of the tools by recruiting teams, and carrying out tool monitoring and updates.

These tools can perform a variety of functions, but they tend to:

  • Either improve existing processes by, among other things, automating tasks to save time (through matching, scoring, artificial intelligence, etc.);
  • Or by adding new features to the process, including referral and ambassador programmes with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, implementing and managing a talent pool using a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) system, etc.
Want to improve candidate experience at every step of the hiring process? Explore our platform

Useful fact: the initialism “CRM” refers to two different tools:

  • Candidate Relationship Management
  • Customer Relationship Management

Although these two platforms are different, they share similar features because talent acquisition processes are increasingly comparable to lead acquisition processes.

Find out more: When talent acquisition draws inspiration from marketing and lead generation techniques

Providing training and support for internal change

As new processes, new tools and new programmes are introduced, it is important that everything be explained and, above all, taken on board by the whole recruiting team (and beyond – to include hiring managers). Of course, Talent Operations experts aren’t the only ones involved in implementing these improvements, and by the time the new recruiting process is established at last, most stakeholders will have heard about the project. But with any change comes the need for training, and regular refreshers.

It is also worth noting that in some companies, a number of teams may express reluctance towards change, especially if it involves digital tools. A great part of the Talent Ops mandate is to ensure that change occurs as smoothly as possible and that the tools are well received by their users. If the tools aren’t successfully adopted, Talent Ops specialists then have the responsibility of implementing corrective measures to make sure users do end up taking ownership of these tools.

Monitoring performance and fostering data analysis

Talent Operation’s raw material is made up of data. Data is what helps Recruitment Operations experts identify issues, test solutions, and make sure their efforts yield results.

Communicating on this data in accessible formats is an important aspect of their role. They make sure everyone understands the results and, ideally, become special advocates for data-based initiatives.

Find out more: Top HR KPIs for improving hiring performance

How are Talent Operations teams organised?

Once again, this depends on the company: its size and where it’s at in terms of maturity with regard to these new HR roles.

One Talent Operations specialist

A standalone expert can be responsible for the full scope of Talent Ops activities (realistic for small companies) or only part of these activities depending on the company’s priorities. The expert often reports to the recruitment team with whom they work in close collaboration.

A Talent Operations team

Recruitment Operations encompass a number of fields of expertise, and sometimes having a whole team dedicated to these questions can be a way of covering every single aspect of the mandate, i.e. strategy, process optimisation, data management, etc.

This is often a suitable solution for medium-sized companies. Especially seeing as this role can step aside from the Talent Acquisition team and act as a fully-fledged business partner.

Talent Operations-oriented recruiting teams

In some companies, it isn’t always meaningful to have a specific person dedicated to these matters. However, it can be a good idea to organise the company’s HR teams in such a way that they adopt practices which a Talent Operations expert would be in charge of: make data-driven decisions, identify sticking points and addressing them by establishing straightforward processes, conduct reporting, etc.

Starting out or considering a career switch in Talent Operations

Some recruiters may want to consider taking their career down the Talent Ops route. This is entirely possible, and the opposite is true too: an operations expert may prefer to specialise in recruiting.

Find out more: How to become a Talent Operations expert

Candidate experience at the heart of Talent Operations challenges

From reducing costs, to optimising processes, to boosting productivity, we’ve shown that welcoming a Recruitment Operations specialist onto the team can be highly beneficial for a company in terms of efficiency.

But focusing on improving these aspects as a whole is part of a greater objective for the whole company of improving the candidate experience. Candidate satisfaction is key in today’s world where the labour market is heavily affected by talent shortages and where talent acquisition is increasingly complex.

This is why opting for recruiting tools can be extremely useful in increasing the efficiency and relevance of the different steps in the recruiting process, not only for recruiters, but also (and especially) for candidates.

Want to improve candidate experience at every step of the hiring process? Explore our platform
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