Typically, talent acquisition transformation is a strictly aspirational concept, with most teams too busy even to consider revamping any existing strategies and solutions. In light of the massive disruption caused to standard procedure by COVID-19, however, this transformation is now a reality — though few, if any of us, saw it coming. 

To get it right, it’s important to take a step back from the fancy consulting firm language. What does “talent acquisition transformation” really refer to? In short: change. It’s not rocket science, but rather, an exercise in evolution. 

The current slowdown gives organizations the time needed to assess and adjust practices in a way that will better position their teams for the future when hiring ramps up again (which it will). Here’s what you need to know: 

The six core components of talent acquisition transformation

The transformation of your talent acquisition strategy focuses on six core components, which we can divide into two groups. 

Underpinning everything you do are the first three components: people, process and product. That’s what keeps the whole engine running. When entering into a period of transformation, you’re looking to take those three Ps and evaluate them for the other half of the equation: price, quality and speed. You want to squeeze out the inefficiencies, lower costs and, ultimately, improve quality. But you can’t do that without first analyzing your people, process and product. 

It’s pretty clear why this rarely happens: it’s nearly impossible to change the wheels on a car when it’s driving 60 mph down the highway. So maybe you’re taking your foot off the gas, in response to what’s happening. In doing so, it’s possible to gain the clarity needed to dig into the thousands of micro-processes powering the whole operation. 

Don’t squander the opportunity. Instead, embrace it. If you have fewer open job reqs for now, then seek to demonstrate value to the organization by mapping out your core components and getting ready to enact change across the talent acquisition lifecycle. As you try and solve any problems, show your work, long-form. Orchestrate the overhaul. 

The importance of people to business continuity

If you’re working for a firm that has paused its hiring during the pandemic, then you have the time to ask the hard questions. You might need to think in terms of doing more with less. If that’s the case, think people first. Sourcing, recruiting and retention are critical factors in business continuity. 

Think about the conversations you should have with decision-makers. If recruiting is shut down, then how are you going to make sure it’s not too disruptive to the future of the organization? IT recruiter Paul DeBettignies recently put it this way to one CEO: “If you shut down your sourcing and recruiting for 60 days, and it takes 30 days to get it going again, and it takes 30-60 days to fill your open roles, you’re four to five months from your next hire. Can your business afford that?” 

However you answer that question, it’s important to remember that even during a transformation or downturn, people come first. They take precedence over everything else because they are the driving force behind organizational success. Process and product are supplemental to your people. Make people your number one priority. 

Of course, in doing so, it’s still OK to look for ways to hire faster and at a lower rate, without sacrificing quality. Pose different scenarios to determine what’s achievable. That might mean shaving two weeks from your time to hire, or reducing your overall recruiting spend. Just don’t lose sight of the end goal, and that’s hiring. 

Read the room 

Knowing that this too shall pass and one day your transformation will be complete, read the room. COVID-19 cut the future of work conversation short. The future is now, and work isn’t going to be the same as before. What’s going to happen is a rush toward digital transformation and an increase in remote recruiting, virtual onboarding and the like. How does that fit into your evolution? What moves can you make now? Have you tried video interviewing? What about virtual events? What support do you need internally, not just from leadership but from other teams, like procurement and IT? 

Start to connect the dots. That means looking at employer brand, recruitment marketing, outreach, interviewing, assessments and so on. What’s happening now that will impact your success later? What changes need to take place? Each step in the talent acquisition process deserves attention. The organizations that seek to understand and improve will be transformed — and those who don’t may find themselves behind the curve once a rebound takes off.  

Whether you realize it or not, transformation is part of the job. Most organizations avoid it because it’s hard. And rarely, if ever, are talent acquisition teams given a chance to go out and build something from scratch. There’s no telling how soon things will turn around. It could be July; it could be October. Either way, this is a “use it or lose it” moment. Go carpe diem it.

William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.