Talking Talent: Talent Acquisition in 2020 with Madeline Laurano

Does your talent acquisition program spark joy? If not, Madeline Laurano is here to help. Laurano is the co-founder of Aptitude Research, a research firm focused on talent acquisition. Based on her proprietary research, Laurano sees a talent acquisition landscape that is crowded and complex. During her keynote presentation at PeopleScout’s 2019 NEXT Talent Summit, she focused on simplifying the process.

Every year, Aptitude Research conducts three major surveys to gather qualitative and quantitative data about the talent acquisition landscape – from the biggest challenges facing recruiting teams to how leaders in the field are integrating innovative technology into their programs. We spoke with Laurano about the trends she uncovered in her surveys and how she applies the “Marie Kondo” method to talent acquisition and talent technology.

What is the biggest challenge in talent acquisition today?

The biggest challenge across organizations of all sizes and industries is that talent acquisition has become so incredibly complex. We have new technology solutions; vendors entering the industry that provide everything from employer branding to innovative assessments; and organizations that need to expand the skills and breadth of knowledge on their talent acquisition teams. While this presents exciting opportunities, at the same time, it’s creating a lot of challenges. We have to be able to manage all of these different priorities while making sense of the technology we’re using and the strategies in place.

How do you determine which talent technology solutions are the right fit for your organization?

It’s going to be a little bit different for every company, but it’s best to start at a very basic level. Every organization needs an ATS, an onboarding system and some type of recruitment marketing platform. That’s what I call the trifecta. Every organization of every size should have that. Those three systems must be in place to make sure that you have a way of engaging, tracking and managing talent. That’s the basic tech stack.

After that, it’s important to look at what you need to support your needs – whether it’s automation, enhancing communication, providing stronger branding, or sourcing and assessing candidates. Most organizations have screening and assessment solutions. We’re seeing more and more companies using some type of interview management system. Then, there are a lot of sourcing and branding solutions.

I think we need to simplify the talent technology ecosystem as much as possible. That comes down to building the best trifecta – the basic tech stack – and strategically adding additional technology where it will have the greatest significance. There are companies that pull together all of these disparate solutions into one unified technology; PeopleScout’s AffinixTM is a great example of that.

When you’re looking at technology partners, how do you determine if they are the right fit? What kind of questions should you ask, and what should you look for?

It’s really looking beyond just a demo and beyond what’s on somebody’s website. I evaluate technology partners using four buckets: company, product, differentiators and roadmap.

First, I like to ask, “What are the company’s values? What’s the strength of their leadership team? How many employees do they have? How many employees are focused on research and development? What does their customer base look like? Who is their target customer?”

The next piece involves looking at the product, getting into technical questions, and thinking about things like mobile compatibility, the suite of services and the languages that are supported.

Then, it’s about the differentiators. I like to ask technology providers to explain what their differentiators are, and then – after going through the process and understanding what they do – figuring out if I’m seeing the same differentiators. That can be very telling.

The final piece is asking about the roadmap. “What’s planned for the future? Is this a provider truly invested in making enhancements and providing flexibility to organizations?”

How do you simplify your talent acquisition process? What does simplified look like?

We’ve heard of Marie Kondo and her method for organizing and decluttering our homes. I think organizations need to take that approach to talent acquisition. This is especially relevant when it comes to talent acquisition technology. Companies are using so many different providers to accomplish certain goals – our research shows it’s an average of 30. When you have so many solutions, you don’t have consistent data sets to look at, so it’s hard to know what’s working and what isn’t.

Leaders need to be able to figure out what talent technology their organization needs, how it’s going to be used, and how they can narrow down the list of providers to only those that are most effective. As an example, when it comes to recruitment marketing, a lot of companies are using several different vendors within their organization; only 2% of companies are using all of the capabilities provided by each tool. Leaders need to look at what’s not working and think about a provider that can support the organization with a more holistic strategy.

What advice can you share with talent acquisition leaders who are looking ahead to 2020?

When it comes to making your talent acquisition program more manageable and simplifying your technology stack, think about which providers are truly partners and able to support you in many different ways. That’s really important.

Then, think about what skills you need to make your talent acquisition function successful, whether it’s digital expertise, data scientists or more employer branding services. Focus on how you can either bring those onto your team or find an outside provider to partner with you.

The final piece is thinking about embracing some of the areas that haven’t traditionally been part of a talent acquisition function, taking ownership and being a champion for them. Employer branding is one example. We’ve seen a lot of talent acquisition leaders and professionals embrace branding and become experts in that area. Data analytics is another. By advocating for solutions in these specialized areas, talent acquisition leaders move their program ahead of the competition.

Finally, have fun! There’s so much in talent acquisition that can feel tactically overwhelming, but advocating for new solutions is empowering. So much is changing, but with that change, we’re seeing exciting opportunities for improved data, robust employer branding and more. This is an amazing industry to be in, and we can’t forget that.

Post by Nicole Fuqua