Talking Talent Leadership Profile: Anna Turner, SHRM-CP, PHR

In her role as PeopleScout’s Vice President of Product, Anna Turner isn’t technically sitting in the seat of an HR leader – but you wouldn’t know it. With a long list of human resources certifications, a career that started in recruiting and experience in leadership at multiple HR technology companies – her résumé is a successful marriage of HR and technology.

Operating with the philosophy that innovation is driven through teamwork, Anna leads the vision, strategy, and roadmap for PeopleScout’s product and service portfolio. We spoke with her from her home in Charleston, S.C., to learn what she expects out of HR technology in 2021.



What is the role of technology in solving the talent acquisition challenges of 2021?

One of the biggest challenges for employers is that things are moving faster in this digital world, and that has an impact on candidate experience. Our expectations as consumers have changed drastically over the past few years. We expect things to be personalized; we expect things to be transparent; and we expect things to be on-demand.

I can pick up my cell phone right now and have groceries delivered to my house in time for dinner. I can see how many stops the delivery driver needs to make before arriving at my house. Now, employers face increasing pressure to have a candidate experience that matches those consumer expectations. We need to bring the right technology to create that experience.

One way we’ve seen the candidate experience transform over the past year is the accelerated use of virtual interviewing solutions, like on-demand or live video interviews. How will that continue to influence the candidate experience going forward?

Before the pandemic, many employers were already focused on digitization. Now, that’s been put on fast forward. Within just a matter of weeks, a virtual process became a necessity – and that’s not going to change.

In this market for talent, employers need a virtual process that’s not only fast, but also has a really strong candidate experience. More people are working remotely than ever, which means employers aren’t facing the typical geographic boundaries for sourcing talent. It also means that candidates have more options. Once those constraints are gone, you transform both the way you compete for talent and the strategies you need to implement to bring in that talent.

Over the past year, we’ve all seen our relationships with technology get a lot tighter. We’re using new tools in almost every aspect of our lives. How will this deeper relationship affect talent acquisition?

I think it impacts both candidates and employers in different ways. On the candidate side, it reinforces those expectations for a consumer-like candidate experience. They want the transparency. Going back to the grocery delivery example, I can track the delivery driver on GPS, but many candidates don’t understand where they stand after they submit an application and are frustrated by the ‘black hole’ of the recruiting process. Are they still being considered? If so, when will they hear back?

Another way it has impacted candidates is their openness to trying new technology. As an example, if you look back a year ago, my mom had never even been on a Zoom call. Now, she’s an expert. That’s happening across all types of workers, and it means that candidates will respond more positively to new hiring technology solutions.

For employers, we’re seeing this deepened relationship with technology accelerate their embrace of new solutions. In a way, employers have been forced to try new solutions. But now, they’ve seen how those solutions can speed up and improve their processes. The biggest opportunity to expand on that will be around insights and data. With all of this technology, you have increased visibility into your process. You can start to see friction points and opportunities to improve the candidate experience. These insights are one of the exciting things that will definitely carry on from leveraging more and more technology as a result of what we’ve been through over the last year.

There’s a lot of hope for 2021. We’ve heard it called “The Great Rehire,” and we know that employers will need to start bringing on more workers. However, many talent acquisition teams are still very lean. How does technology help solve that issue?

Each employer is going to have a different plan and a different story, but we are seeing employers start to get ready. One of the most interesting things that employers can do is to look at their current systems – whether it’s their current ATS or CRM – to see who they have in their network and how they can have a talent pool ready when it is time to make hires. That means finding ways to amplify your employer value proposition, engage talent in your network and keep talent warm.

Once employers are ready to start making those hires, they can leverage technology as part of the recruiting and hiring process. But, right now, I think it’s most important for employers to focus on how they can nurture talent to make the eventual hiring process easier.

We’ve talked a lot about challenges. What would you say are the biggest opportunities for talent leaders in 2021?

I think there are three buckets. One I mentioned earlier, and that’s insights through data. There’s a huge opportunity to become more data-driven, and we’ve been talking about it for years in HR. The challenge has always been tying together all the disparate systems. We’re moving into a realm now where technology partners are able to bridge those gaps and make that happen.

The next one is diversity and inclusion. This is obviously a huge area of importance. We know that, as we have more diverse teams, we will offer better services, deliver better products, come up with better ideas and design better solutions. Now, we can use data to revisit messaging, employer branding, hiring campaigns and more to ensure that they appeal to the diverse candidates that employers want to hire.

The final area is one we’ve talked about a lot, and that’s candidate experience. How do we evolve the experience of our processes to create a ‘wow’ experience for candidates? Does the recruiting process meet candidates where they are – for example, in a mobile-friendly way? Does every candidate know where they stand? For example, the candidates you aren’t moving forward receiving communication is a huge step forward for closing the loop and providing transparency. There are big opportunities in 2021 for employers that can provide a candidate-first experience.

Post by Nicole Fuqua