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  • Writer's pictureBenoit Hardy-Vallée

15 - On Talent Acquisition Technology, Candidate Experience and Nurturing Talent

A conversation with Graham Thornton, CEO of Change State and Podcast host at the Changing State of Talent Acquisition.


  • The evolution of Talent Acquisition - where were we 10 years ago

  • What it was like to apply for a job, what kind of technology were TA leaders using

  • How can employers today stand out to attract top talent

  • The importance of marketing and relationship management in TA

  • Common mistakes that organizations make in trying to evolve their TA process

  • Candidate nurturing and the future of TA technology


  • 10-15 years ago, job boards would grow through partnerships - for instance, CareerBuilder was owned by newspaper such as the Chicago Tribune. If you checked your Hotmail and searched for careers it was Careerbuilder. Same thing for Yahoo hot jobs, if you went to Yahoo to check your mail that would lead you to a search through Hot Jobs jobs. The point is that they were trying to take those jobs to where people were actually searching.

  • The same logic applies now - we have seen an increase in Google as a starting point for a job search (about 70% of job search start on Google), and you see job aggregators scraping jobs from company career sites and fighting for real estate on Google.

  • Also, 15 years ago, you weren't managing candidates in a CRM. Outreach started 7 years ago as a talent CRM, but they were too early - no one wanted to buy that seven years ago, so they pivoted to sales.

  • Thus TA brought all the principles of business development, marketing, customer relationship management to recruitment.

  • The best companies are keeping a keen eye on what is going on in the consumer space and using that to drive their strategy.

  • One place where the analogy breaks down are Google searches: you can search for a job, click on a links that ranks higher in google, which bring you from Google job to another platform and you can end up stuck or lost in an unknown job board. It's like buying a billboard on the side of the highway that said "we're hiring for Amazon, call here" and you give your personal cell phone. No one would let you put that billboard up unless Amazon gave the permission; you would have to have an agency agreement. It's the same thing online with these job boards - anyone can go ahead and pull jobs off of a company career site and present those jobs in a certain structured way. There should be more controls put in place, permissions as to whom can advertise on behalf of a company. none of that would fly in the consumer space. It is easy to put jobs up on behalf of companies without their permission.

  • To improve the TA process, TA leaders should go through the process of applying.

How to stand out:

  • many companies are still reliant on their marketing teams or TA teams to send mass emails to people that are in a CRM or talent community to drive interest. You need to be able to figure out which candidates or leads are actually engaging with your brand and your company. The best companies that stand out are understanding which candidates are most active within their respective ecosystem and the smarter companies are doing a really good job of prioritizing their outreach to candidates that are warm or engaged with their brand.

  • You can only stand out if you can show what your company is good at. We may say that we're good at something, but does your current employee base believe it? As

  • As James Ellis (recruitment marketing thought leader) said: you are what you are reward. You can put a pretty face on it career site but the proof is going to be when people work for your organization believe it too. It isn't just about marketing and getting more applications. It's about matching your experience as an actual employee, to what your public-facing messages is. If you don't figure out why people stay and why people like working for you that is not going to be authentic. If you're rewarding the wrong things, then you're really pushing the problem a further down the path, when you onboard someone and what they see doesn't match what they were sold during the application or interview process.

TA & Recruitment trends

  • Recruitment technology evolution: we see many tools to remove bias in the process, such as tools to rewrite job descriptions.

  • Increasingly, TA leaders have to review what has historically being used as prioritization tools for candidates and are they still relevant? Does 7 years vs. 5 years of experience in a role make a difference? Is there a correlation with performance?

  • Figuring out what pieces of the process candidates are getting stuck, use automation for screening and moving candidates through certain phases faster. A recent article was explaining how someone got hired at Amazon without speaking to a human It was all handled by automation and by technology but Amazon is never going to run that same process to hire an engineer. It's automating the right pieces based on the needs of the business.

  • Many companies are start out with the idea that they need a new ATS, a chat bot or a new events tool. Starting with what you need is not necessarily the best way to approach solving a problem in the TA world. You want to start with what the problems are. Ironically, systems that a company has purchased can create the problems that they are trying to solve by buying another tool. You might be considering chatbots when maybe you should step back and figure out what problem you're trying to solve.

  • Many clients also default to “we need more candidates” as the solution to a problem. And a lot of times that isn't the case: you need to better manage the candidates you have already paid for. If your only solution is throwing more money at advertising, you're not going to mysteriously create new candidates.

  • The smartest TA organizations are taking an approach much like consumer businesses, and ask “what is my total addressable market? How many engineers exist or how many people of our particular profile exist? How many of those particular profiles do I actually have? How am I engaging with those candidates to tell them more about our organization, what we do differently? How can I understand where are they in that candidate life cycle?”

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