Posts tagged ‘HR challenges’

April 19, 2016

The Top 5 Actions You Can Start Doing Today to Improve Recruitment at Your Organization – Part 1 of 2


A recent study by PWC found that 63% of CEOs worry that the availability of key skills will undermine their strategies and plans for growth and 93% of CEOs recognize the need to change their strategy for attracting and retaining talent.

Talent Acquisition leaders have been asking for a greater level of respect and understanding from the business in terms of the Recruitment function over the past number of years.   More and more studies are finally showing the changing attitudes around the importance of the Recruitment function to an organization’s success.

Unfortunately the realities at most organizations are that their Recruitment function is:

  • Not appropriately funded based on the business expectations of the function;
  • Inadequately championed at the senior and executive levels of an organization;
  • Treated as a transactional, order taking and an administrative process.

There are significant opportunities for HR and Talent Acquisition leaders at every organization to take advantage of the current climate within the business on Recruitment.

Here are my recommended top 5 actions you can do to improve Recruitment at your organization:

5)      Focusing on Your Recruitment Strategy – It all starts with a plan.  Most organizations currently don’t have a Recruitment strategy in place.  The role and expectations of Recruitment continue to evolve but the top 2 challenges of every Recruitment function remain the same:

  • Capacity
  • Effectiveness

It’s tough to meet the growing expectations of the function when you don’t have the plan, the resources or the budget to succeed.  The Talent Acquisition leader needs to take this opportunity to re-contract with the business on their expectations and present them with options on how to enhance the function.  Your strategy must be realistic or the function will continue to lose credibility.  Don’t try and boil the ocean and place too many stretch goals in your strategy.  Your Recruitment strategy needs to come directly from the business, workforce and talent plan.  Focus on what is most important for the business rather than trying to cover everything.  Recruitment must be an organizational focus and priority – not just an HR one!

4)      Targeting Your Talent Sourcing – At the end of the day, the success of Recruitment is judged solely on finding and hiring the right talent for your organization.  Don’t be too focused on other outcomes – there is only one outcome that matters in Recruitment, the hire!

With this in mind, I am always shocked with the number of Recruitment functions not focused more on sourcing talent.  There are so many organizations simply waiting for talent to come to them through a post and pray sourcing strategy.  With so much importance on hiring the right talent for your organization, why are you waiting for talent to come to you and hoping the right person sees your posting.  Don’t leave your candidate sourcing approach to chance, change the sourcing mindset of your organization and target the right candidates from the start.

The first thing to do to enhance your talent sourcing is to ensure you are getting the most out of the sourcing tools you are already paying for.  Organizations continue to spend a significant amount of money with LinkedIn yet don’t leverage the platform for everything it can do.

The second thing to do is setup dedicated resources focused on finding the right candidates.  The best-in-class Recruitment teams have integrated a dedicated candidate research and sourcing approach into their Recruitment practices.  There are many talent research and sourcing options to look at to compliment your Recruitment team including utilizing an outsourced approach to targeted research.

Leverage your current top performers within your organization and build a “How can I recruit you again” profile.  Understand what makes them a top performer and why they are so good in their roles within your organization’s culture.  Leverage this data along with understanding how they would approach looking for a new opportunity thinking of how you can find more candidates like him/her.

Never wait for the right talent to come to you – it is too important to the success of your organization to rely on chance with Recruitment.

3)      Developing Your Hiring Managers – Every organization has a handful of great hiring managers with whom the Talent Acquisition team always enjoys working with.  These are the hiring managers who recognize the importance and impact great talent has on the success of an organization.  Unfortunately the majority of Hiring Managers are a challenge at every organization.  From their unrealistic expectations on hiring skills and experience for their open roles, to the organizations’ lack of confidence in their Hiring Managers’ abilities to appropriately interview, assess and select the best candidates for their roles, Hiring Managers are often doing more damage to the hiring process than good.

A few realities exist:

  • Most Hiring Managers might only recruit and interview talent once or twice a year and aren’t naturally comfortable or confident in conducting interviews.
  • Candidates have access to more tools and training on interviewing than ever before allowing them to be more skilled and better prepared.  Websites such as Glassdoor even provide candidates access to the interview questions your organization is most likely to ask them.
  • All candidates will exaggerate their skills, experience and accomplishments on their resume and in an interview – how confident are you in your Hiring Managers’ ability to see through the candidate “fluff”.
  • The majority of Hiring Managers interview candidates solely for the role they have open today and rarely look at the candidates’ long term potential and organizational fit.
  • The goal for every organization should be to develop all of their Hiring Managers to be “great” at conducting interviews and selecting the right candidates.

Best-in-class organizations recognize the importance of investing in their Hiring Managers capabilities through ongoing recruitment and interviewing education, tools and training programs.  These organizations use a number of platforms to engage their Hiring Managers to become more effective:

  • Talent Scouts – sourcing talent throughout their networks.
  • Talent Ambassadors – promoting a positive candidate experience.
  • Talent Assessor – acting as a peer interviewer to select the right talent for their organization.

Recruiters also play a key role as a coach and advisor ensuring the Hiring Managers are properly prepared and equipped to conduct their interviews.  Finally, the most progressive organizations have integrated recruitment and hiring into their core leadership accountabilities ensuring that talent acquisition is an organizational focus and not just an HR priority.

Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this article revealing my top 2 recommended actions you can do to improve Recruitment at your organization which will be released next week.


Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for Recruitment, Talent and HR Solutions at The Talent Company –   Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices. Simon’s full profile can be found at

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For more information on The Talent Company please visit us at

December 18, 2015

HR’s Top Priority for 2016 – Enhancing Talent Acquisition

Uncovering the top talent within your organization

As I was studying and beginning my HR career in the mid-2000’s I got tired of the often used term “the war for talent.” As a slightly naïve and optimistic individual I didn’t want to describe anything as a war and it seemed to me that describing talent acquisition as a process that set up conflict between talent and the business was short sighted.

In any case, the economic crash that began in 2008 quickly took care of that.

But the Canadian market has seen a few years of slow and steady increases in business activity resulting in an increased demand for talent. So, while I’m not advocating a “war for talent”, I will suggest that Business Leaders as well as HR and talent acquisition professionals need to significantly up their game if they want to attract the talent necessary to achieve their goals.

If you’re not mobile, you’re not in the game.

In a recent survey by the Pew Research Centre, 28% of respondents reported using a smartphone in their job search. To further quote this survey:

“while many of today’s job seekers are enlisting their smartphones to browse jobs or communicate with potential employers, others are using their mobile devices for far more complex and challenging tasks, from writing a resume to filling out an online job application.”

When you consider demographics and the prevalence of mobile browsing in general, this stat is actually higher in certain segments. For instance, 53% of 18-to-29 year olds have used a smartphone as part of a job search.

One reason for the lower than expected result in this survey? Company career sites just aren’t enabled for mobile browsing or applications. This forces applicants to track down a computer where they can confidentially apply or (increasingly) just move on to the next opportunity.

Reject checkbox recruiting

As an employer if you’re still looking for talent with a particular degree from a certain university or demanding experience in a particular version of a software program, it’s past time to ask yourself why. When there were more job seekers than jobs it was easy to layer preferred criteria on top of firm requirements and still build a strong short-list of candidates. While that may still be the case in some sectors, the tide is turning.

More importantly, this approach discourages diversity and innovation. Solution-focused candidates often bow out, left with the impression that you favour process over results.

I’m not advocating that you eliminate requirements completely. Focus on what those requirements demonstrate. Are you looking for evidence of specific results, behaviours or motivation? Then frame it that way and look for the candidates that can demonstrate those abilities.

Business Leaders need to own talent acquisition.

This one will be uncomfortable for both HR and the Business equally. Business Leaders need to take greater responsibility for talent acquisition.

To emphasize this point further, in The Talent Company’s recent Talent Acquisition Practices Study only 5% of companies surveyed responded that the Business/Hiring Managers owned talent acquisition.

I think that most companies recognize that Hiring Managers need to make individual hiring decisions, with the support of HR, talent acquisition and peers. But Business Leaders also need to be more involved in other talent acquisition activities such as employment branding, acting as an ambassador for the organization and building proactive pipelines of talent.

In return, as a true business partner, HR and talent acquisition teams must be accountable for enterprise-wide talent acquisition strategy (formulated to align to business strategy) as well as advising, facilitating, training and coaching Business Leaders on effective talent acquisition behaviours.


Talent acquisition has always been a top priority for HR. But with current market trends, and the reality of lean teams, HR and talent acquisition professionals have to be strategic in their focus and where they invest their resources. The three trends that we’ve identified here are becoming increasingly critical and, in our opinion, are past due.

The Talent Company works with organizations every day to help them optimize talent acquisition. Through our consulting work, research and networking we can see that greater progress is still required so that talent acquisition practices can meet the demands of the business.

So, as we prepare for the new year, I challenge you: What are you doing as an HR or talent acquisition professional to create true business partnerships and to ensure that your organization is attracting the talent it needs to meet your goals?



Kathleen Jinkerson is the Director of HR & Talent Solutions with The Talent Company, a human resources consulting firm that works closely with clients to develop, optimize and innovate their Talent practices. Kathleen possesses more than 10 years of experience in partnering with organizations to help them build their talent capacity as well as their HR and leadership teams.

For more information on The Talent Company and our customized solutions, visit

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December 10, 2015

HR’s Top Priority for 2016 – Engaging all of HR to be true Business Partners

HR’s Top Priority for 2016 – Engaging all of HR to be true Business Partners


I predict that 2016 will continue to be a period of change and transformation for Human Resources functions. This is true across organizations of all sizes, industries and business models.  I have been an HR and Talent professional for over 20 years; during this time I have worked with some of the top organizations around the globe, across many different industries. I can confidently say that 2015 has been one of the busiest years for all of our four Advisory Practices (HR, Leadership Development, Recruitment, and Total Rewards) since our inception 8 years ago.

Organizations are continuing to come out of the economic slowdown. We are finding that with many of our clients their business’s expectations of their Human Resources team has increased and evolved.  Whether HR likes it or not, the “bar” is set higher now for HR to meet the business’s expectations within their organizations.  The current reality within most organizations is that HR is still struggling for additional headcount to be allocated to their function to meet the increased demands from the business.   Unfortunately, the business isn’t interested in hearing how HR is stretched so thin these days, with limited resources, and their demands are only going to grow in the years ahead.  HR needs to ensure their function is fully optimized, not just in terms of resourcing but also in skills and competencies.

So as an HR professional, focus on what the business needs versus what you think they should want.  Prioritize HR’s focus for 2016. Don’t try and boil the ocean………select the critical initiatives that will have the greatest positive impact on the business and focus on them.  Don’t try and tackle everything at once, have a plan for 2016 and ensure the business is in complete alignment with the plan.  For the plan to succeed, the business needs to buy-in to the “why” of the plan and be surrounded by effective business partners who execute the plan alongside the business.

For HR to step up to meet the business needs in 2016, this is an opportunity for HR to re-engage itself with the business and develop their HR resources to be more effective as true Business Partners in their roles regardless of their specialization within the HR function.  It shouldn’t matter if your HR resources are specialists or generalists, if they are managers or coordinators, if they are in Total Rewards or in Recruitment or Talent. Every role within an HR function should be focused as a Business Partner in the way they work.

I partner with a number of Colleges and Universities across North America on improving the content in their Human Resources program curriculum geared towards educating students of HR.  Unfortunately very few of the HR programs I have encountered had any content geared towards teaching students of HR on being an effective business partner.  Most of the programs are geared towards learning the various specialty areas of focus within Human Resources but very little on the desired behaviours of a great HR business partner.  The most successful HR professionals are effective business partners and if we want to elevate the function to the next level, we need to ensure all HR professionals are focused on being a true partner to the business.

Here are the top 4 steps to follow to become more effective as a true Business Partner within your role as an HR professional:


1 – Understand the Business

  • Understand how your organization makes money.
  • Understand the barriers the business faces when it comes to making more money in your organization.
  • Listen and translate the business’s needs directly for your area of focus. Understand the part your role plays in reducing these barriers allowing the business to make more money.


2 – Be a Coach to the Business


  • Business Partners focus on long-term relationship building rather than a specific transaction or project. Always be focused on the outcome – not simply the process.
  • Don’t be a barrier, be an enabler. Enable your business to be successful. Be a Business Partner who works with the business on improving their effectiveness and being successful.
  • Great Business Partners are always prepared. Be prepared to ask smart questions. Be prepared to challenge assumptions. Be prepared to apply your judgement. The business is buying your judgement, not just your time.
  • Business Partners know how to read the “mood” of the business.
  • “Trust” is the most critical aspect in the relationship you have with the business. Being known for your integrity is the most important factor in being a successful Business Partner.


3 – Be a Consultant to the Business


  • Be an expert – recognize you are your organization’s expert in your HR area of focus. Invest in your own development to enhance your own expertise – know the market trends, what your competition and other industry leaders are doing within your HR area of focus. Network, network and network. It’s the best way to learn how trending practices are being successfully implemented.
  • Business Partners always provide their customers with Value – your relationship with the business is never more stable than when your business trusts you completely to take care of them.
  • Be accessible. A good Business Partner’s voice is comforting. They are easy to find. They promptly return calls and emails with a sense of urgency.
  • Set realistic expectations with the business – don’t be all talk with no action.


4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Deliver Tough Messages to the Business


  • The business hates unhappy surprises much more than timely bad news – don’t be afraid to be honest with the business.
  • The business is NOT always right – don’t agree with the business just because they are your client. Always remember you are an expert within your role and the business needs to hear your message even if it won’t be popular.


Each of these steps are simple to state but actually pretty tough to successfully execute. The Talent Company provides a number of development and training programs for corporate HR teams including a program specifically focused on HR professionals becoming more effective business partners.

We work with organizations every day to help them prepare their HR, Talent, Recruitment and Total Rewards functions to be more effective in meeting the demands of their businesses.  As an HR, Recruitment, Talent or Total Rewards professional, what are you doing to become a more effective Business Partner in 2016?



Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for Recruitment, Talent and HR Solutions at The Talent Company –  Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices. Simon’s full profile can be found at

For more information on The Talent Company please visit us at

New Talent Company_logo

June 25, 2015

STOP Hiring More Recruiters! 5 Reasons Why You’re Throwing Away Your Precious Budget if You Do


OK, I admit it: the titles of my posts tend to be a bit on the cheeky side, and this one is no exception. But while at first glance some may think I’ve gone too far this time, the fact is that I’m frustrated in that some people within the Talent Acquisition space continue doing things the same way because “that’s how they’ve always been done.” Don’t get me wrong, there are some real innovators among us. But by and large, little continues to evolve.

One example of this is how HR and Talent Acquisition leaders deal with increasing hiring volumes and overcapacity among their recruiters. As is often the case and the easiest path taken, their precious budget is used to hire more recruiters with the expectation is that all will be solved. This is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.

However, what if there were multiple ways to address hiring volume issues, improve candidate engagement, improve an organization’s brand – both in the marketplace and among candidates – and fill open roles sooner; and all while maintaining (not increasing!) the current Talent Acquisition budget? This may sound like wishful thinking, but with some help from my good friend and talent sourcing trailblazer Amit Hinduja, we’ll show you that this isn’t just possible, it’s practical as well. Here are five insights to help you acquire talent more effectively and inexpensively. Yes, you read that right: it’s time to save money!

1.  Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is one of the most important investments that your organization can make, because in terms of talent acquisition, it’s the best tool for saving money in the shortest amount of time. Most importantly, you don’t need an experienced recruiter in order to uncover the vast amounts of hires that already exist within it. Here are some specific ATS related tips and insights to keep in mind:

  • Invest in an ATS. If you don’t already have an ATS: get one! Yes, you’ll need to spend money in order to save money, but the good news is that it truly is a minimal cost. An ATS can be purchased for as little as $100 per month, it’s easy to use, and it provides your team with a number of benefits, including the opportunity to constantly revisit and connect with engaged candidates that you already have.
  • Mine your ATS. As candidates apply through your career site, your ATS will grow to eventually contain hundreds — if not thousands — of engaged candidates. The amount of hires that comes from a well-mined ATS can be massive, but only if your team commits to mining through your ATS first. External sites, especially those with paid access or licenses, are often unnecessary as your new hires are within short (and much less expensive!) reach.
  • Nurture your ATS. While it’s good to have a database filled with candidates, the reality is that resumes alone won’t fix your hiring woes. The key here is to develop and maintain a database of qualified and engaged candidates. Most ATS’s include features that allow you to stay connected to your candidates, while emphasizing the uniqueness of your employment brand and keeping your organization top of mind. Remember all of those silver and bronze medalist candidates who were good, but not the exact fit for what you were looking for? Those are your hires for tomorrow — but only if you succeed in keeping them engaged. Doing so through your ATS is simple, effective, and the activity can be tracked.
  • Educate and inform with your ATS. Talent Acquisition functions are often viewed with frustration, and typically lacking an executive champion. In fact, they’re even relegated to an administrative function. Organizations that make full use of their ATS see this tool for its added capability, including the ability to build internal awareness and influence stakeholders because of the vast amount of valuable data. ATS’s are great for identifying value for spend, understanding how candidates are being engaged, reducing or even eliminating costly tools and resources, and providing your business stakeholders with competitive intelligence.

2. Train for Additional Sourcing Capability. 

With the widespread accessibility of data and the availability of free tools, we have reached a point where finding candidates has become a skill that can be developed much more easily than in the past. Simply put: you no longer need to employ teams of highly paid recruiters to find candidates.

The majority of activity that goes into securing talent including building a prospect list, executing search queries, coordinating interviews and facilitating the approval process doesn’t require senior level recruiters. Less expensive junior resources, or even re-skilled workers in search of a second career, can be trained to source and find candidates. I know this first-hand because at The Talent Company, we’ve coached our clients to do this many times.

With this being said, it’s also true that some skills take time to develop. For example, convincing a coveted candidate to consider an opportunity, or intuitively knowing how to “close” a candidate are talents that come with experience. However, again, neither of these (or any other more advanced abilities) requires an entire senior level recruitment team. With a solid process, defined accountability, a focus on continuous training, and committed leadership, a hybrid team can and does work well.

Before moving on, I would like to caution organizations that take this approach with an overly simplistic view. The truth is, it isn’t simple to execute. However, it can certainly be done if the effort includes supportive leadership and an experienced Talent Acquisition/HR Manager; one who has experience with this type of model, and has the time to coach and mentor developing employees.

3. Leaders are Sources for Candidates Too

With the legacy of the “Great Recession” still fresh in our minds, organizations and hiring managers have moved towards what I consider an overly-specific approach to hiring talent. In most cases, candidates must match up with all or nearly all of the “must have” requirements.

The issue here, of course, is that there is a very real lack of qualified talent. Assessing for suitability is one thing. However, when we insist on sticking to our druthers and finding the “perfect candidate,” we must accept that a perfectly-suited and available candidate is rare. Finding this type of talent requires that an organization use all of its resources. This includes tapping into the professional networks and relationships of internal management and leadership teams. Leaders can be coached to open up their professional networks and support the efforts of recruitment teams. Essentially, inspiring recruitment advocacy amongst your management ranks makes great business sense and saves money.

4. Building a Culture of Empathy and Business Support 

Your business leaders and hiring managers play a significant role in influencing the efficiency and effectiveness of your Talent Acquisition function. For example, a common yet often overlooked fact is that the total amount of open requisitions within most organizations is incorrect and inflated. The actual number can be far less. As a result, recruiters spend too much time chasing down hiring managers, only to eventually find out that the roles are on hold, still require approval, or that the requisition really isn’t critical.

Simply put, it’s up to us as Recruitment and HR leaders to help “the business” understand their role as enablers, and dare I say, catalysts of the core issue. Through frequent and honest dialogue, we must work together to eliminate inefficiencies and free up capacity to find strong candidates, and fill “real” requisitions. Initially, this will require courage and patience, and you should expect to face resistance from hiring managers who may not understand your message. But with a consultative approach that shows how and why this impacts the overall organization, you will prevail and eliminate the need to hire additional resources to keep up with demand.

5. Leveraging Social Media

Let’s switch gears now and consider how others save money while sourcing for quality talent. For insights on this, I turned to Amit Hinduja, a senior sourcing specialist and social media recruiter. Many of the tools and techniques Amit uses to find candidates are free. For example, a recent hire of his came from Whatsapp: a mobile messaging app. The following are based on his experience in utilizing social media:

  • Get Social. Leading organizations that integrate social media into their overall recruitment process see a number of benefits. They include a reduction in “time to fill,” unlimited opportunities for generating leads, finding candidates faster, and building pipelines of passive candidates for future requirements. If your organization hasn’t adopted a comprehensive approach to leveraging social media, its time to give it a further look. There are numerous opportunities for cost savings.
  • Talent Analytics (Big Data). Social media allows you to easily monitor and manage results, including what’s working and what isn’t. For example, you can track activity to see how and where candidates engage with your brand and career opportunities. Of particular importance is that you can redeploy resources and budget to the areas and tools that generate the largest impact, and eliminate unnecessary spending.
  • Go Where the Candidates Are. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the most common sources for candidates on social media. However, other channels should be mined as well because by putting sole focus on the “big 3” your team can be wasting valuable time and missing out on other, more potent sources for talent. For example, to source for technology consultants Amit visits free sites like Stackoverflow, Stackexchange and Superuser. For requirements within the graphic and UI/UX design space, he uses Dribble, Medium and Artfox. In planning a bit upfront, he applies a targeted effort in the direction that yields him the best, quickest and most cost effective results. As with all points mentioned above, Amit stresses that social media is simply one tool within an overall talent attraction strategy. It is, however, an important one as its value evolves, expands and continues to influence how organizations acquire talent.

The Bottom-Line

While a lean approach to acquiring talent is invariably the preferred one, leaders who anticipate continued growth and hiring would be well served to consider all of the options listed above. We have put them in practice both at The Talent Company and for our clients, and I can assure you that they work and save money. With that being said, they also require an experienced talent leader, appropriate internal support, knowledgeable external counsel, and most of all: patience. But the rewards are well worth the effort, if only to establish beyond any doubt that we do have options and doing things “the way we’ve always done them” may be the easier decision, but certainly not the best nor the most effective one.


New Talent Company_logo

Joe Minaudo is the leader of the Strategy and Transformation practice with The Talent Company (, a human resources consulting firm that works closely with clients to develop, optimize and innovate their Recruitment and Talent practices. Joe possesses more than 15 years of recruitment, talent management and workforce planning experience. He has lead recruitment and workforce planning functions for both international and global Big 4 consulting firms. Joe can be found at the following social channels LinkedIn and Twitter.


Amit Hinduja is an innovative Talent hunter who uses social media platforms as his playground. His expertise is in social media recruiting, online research, competitive intelligence, community management and training. He has consulted for Fortune 500 companies, presented at a number of recruitment conferences and participates in panel discussions with universities and colleges around the world.  Amit can be found at the following social channels LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.


April 15, 2015

The 3 Steps to Talent Optimization

Grow & Retain

First of all, what is Talent Optimization?

I get asked this question often and usually by individuals who confuse it with the function of talent development or talent management within their organization.

My definition of Talent Optimization is simply the alignment between the business strategy and the plan for your most important organizational asset, your talent.

It involves three critical steps:

  1. Start with your business strategy and assess its impacts on your talent needs.

The business strategy needs to be at the core of talent optimization.  The business strategy has to drive the desired organization talent outcomes.  Every talent initiative your organization develops, sponsors and participates in must be steered directly from where the business wants to go.  Without this alignment back to your business strategy your organization is simply wasting its time, efforts and money for initiatives that aren’t supporting what is important to your organization’s success.  So many companies have invested heavily in talent focused programs and initiatives over the years which look great…..but many times when I ask them why the created the program they aren’t able to align the purpose of their high visibility programs back to the business strategy.  Simply put, these companies have spent lots of money on “window dressings” and failed to focus their investments into ones that will shape their organization’s talent to where it needs to go.

  1. Assess your current talent to effectively understand current skills and capabilities.

Similar to analyzing the value of an organization’s asset, understanding your organization’s own talent and their capabilities is another critical factor within talent optimization.  Companies need to properly gauge their own talent’s skills, abilities, and limitations to effectively understand the gaps between their current talent and the desired skills and abilities needed to successfully achieve their business strategy and goals.  Very few companies are able to do this successfully.  Most companies understand the skills and competencies needed within each role but fail to understand the full capabilities and experiences of the talent working within that role.  Companies recruit and hire simply to fill their roles and fail to recognize the other skills, abilities and experiences of the new hire beyond the requirements the role.  There are so many great tools and technologies available for organizations to gain a better understanding of their talent which is essential to building an effective organization talent strategy and plan.

  1. Move, develop and recruit talent successfully to meet the organizational needs and goals.

An organization’s ability to effectively move, develop and recruit talent is the third critical factor for an organization to optimize talent.  Companies must be self-aware and understand their true capabilities within talent management, talent development and talent acquisition.  An organization who isn’t effective in managing and developing their own talent will need to rely more on hiring new talent to fulfill the requirements of the business strategy.  The organization must understand the limitations of their talent function and make the appropriate decision to either invest quickly in resolving their functional deficiencies or work around them.

Talent optimization starts at the top of the organization and shouldn’t be just another HR exercise which the executive team and the rest of the organization isn’t fully supporting.  Talent optimization is an organizational function – not just an HR function.


New Talent Company_logo

Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for HR, Recruitment and Talent Management Solutions at The Talent Company –  Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices. Simon’s full profile can be found at and he can be reached at

April 13, 2015

Readying Your Organization for the Change in the Labour Market


The next year will continue to be a period of change and transformation for Human Resources functions across North America.  I have been an HR and Talent professional for over 20 years working with some of the top organizations around the globe.  This year has been one of the busiest years for our Recruitment and Talent Advisory Practice since our inception 7 years ago – and one of the top 3 reasons our clients have called us over the past year has been to help organizations prepare for the change in the labour market.

The market is quickly changing from “an easier to recruit in” employer centric market where the supply of strong talent has easily outnumbered the demand for talent.  In 2015 the demand for talent will quickly overtake the supply of strong talent for the first time in the past 7 years.  Unemployment rates will continue to drop to pre-2007 numbers and the strong talent every organization seeks for their critical roles will be tougher to find.

The smart organizations have been preparing for this change in the labour market over the past year, investing appropriately in their talent management and acquisition functions and practices.  They understand the HR challenges ahead for their organizations and have ensured their functions are positioned in the best direction.

Here are a few of the HR challenges your organization will face in the near future:

  • Retention of your top talent – organizations across the continent are back in growth and will be more aggressive in the recruitment of your top talent to their organizations.
  • Retention of your top recruiters – often an overlooked area of focus but anyone who has heard me speak at a conference knows my view that only 20% of corporate recruiters are good and the first step in recruiting top talent to an organization is to hire great recruiters. So do whatever you can to hold onto the great recruiters you have.
  • Timeliness of your hiring decisions – over the past 7 years, organizations have increased the time they took in interviewing and making their hiring decisions. Unfortunately those organizations will lose the “good-to-great candidates” in their process to other organizations who are quicker to make their hiring decisions.
  • Managing a candidate’s multiple offers and counter offers – with most organizations focused on hiring in 2015, don’t be surprised that the “good-to-great candidates” you make offers to will have the luxury of weighing your offer to at least one other organization’s offer to them – so you better put your best offer forward and not wait to try and negotiate with a candidate as you will lose them to another organization. Or just as tough a scenario will be the candidate’s current organization doing everything possible to prevent the talent from leaving and presenting them with a counter offer.

We work with organizations every day to help them prepare their recruitment practices to be effective (and more efficient) in meeting the demands of the changing labour markets.  As an HR professional, what are you doing to prepare your organization?


New Talent Company_logo

Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for Recruitment, Talent and HR Solutions at The Talent Company –  Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices. Simon’s full profile can be found at

April 6, 2015

Are HR & CEO’s Headed For A Showdown?

Executive Coaching 2

There is definitely a showdown coming. In fact, it may have already arrived. A recent Universum study stated that the “schism within organizations around issues of talent attraction, employer branding and retention have simmered for more than a decade.” In response China Gorman, CEO of the Great Places to Work Institute, wrote on Tuesday that she believes that a massive showdown is coming between HR and CEOs. While I obviously share her belief that the showdown is coming, I don’t agree that HR will be on the losing side.

Call me an optimist but I’m not the only one. In The Talent Company’s HR Pulse study we surveyed human resources professionals globally on the state of HR. The results of this study show that HR’s mood is positive; more than 50% of our respondents indicated that their HR team has improved in the last year.

Let’s look closer at the current state of talent. In their annual CEO survey PwC revealed that 63% of CEO’s are concerned about talent shortages and the availability of key skills. They’re right to be worried.

Study after study has identified talent as a significant gap. For instance, in our recent Pulse on Leadership study, The Talent Company surveyed HR and Business Leaders and fully 54% of our respondents gave their organization a failing grade on identifying current and future leaders. Furthermore, 78% of respondents said that HR needs to be more proactive in partnering with business leadership to develop talent programs.

Why is HR failing at their mandate? The Conference Board says the reasons are varied but attributes it primarily to human resources still being viewed as a support function, administrative overload, HR’s inability to invest in long-term strategic planning and a lack of critical business skills (such as data-driven analysis or forecasting) on the part of HR leaders.

So, you may ask why we’re feeling positive. Again, looking at our HR Pulse results we can see that in the last year HR effectiveness has improved due to process improvements and efficiencies, companies adding key HR expertise to support their growth agenda and better alignment between HR programs and business needs.

HR is finally getting a seat at the table as a strategic partner. The Society for Human Resources Management conducted a survey that indicates that “more than six out of ten HR professionals agreed that their head of HR was strongly involved in business decisions at the board level”.

Now that we have a seat at the table we need to be less concerned with keeping that seat and focus on being able to influence the talent agenda. While the PwC global CEO survey reported that 93% of CEOs know they need to change their strategy to attract and retain talent, 61% of respondents admit they have not done so yet.

The time to act is now. Make the next year a period of change and transformation for your Human Resources and Talent functions.

First, ensure you are able to deliver on your core mandate. Continue to identify process improvements and use technology in smart ways to optimize transactional functions. More importantly, make sure that you retain your key Human Resources professionals.

Once the right team and tools are in place, your Human Resources team members can become true HR Business Partners who can deliver services in a consultative, forward thinking and innovative way.

My colleague, Gord MacDonald, succinctly summarized this approach as The 5 C’s Of Being A Business Consultant:

  • Provide Credible people leadership to the company, with an emphasis on the human versus the capital side of human capital.
  • Build a Collaborative company culture.
  • Leverage the uniqueness of the company Culture. Doing what is right for the company.
  • Influence appropriate Change management at the organizational level.
  • Know what Customers want from the business.

In summary, our HR Pulse results revealed that HR’s top three priorities for the next year are talent and leadership development, talent acquisition and a focus on employee engagement. Focusing on these priorities will help ensure HR are successfully contributing to company growth and profitability.


 New Talent Company_logo

Kathleen Jinkerson is the Director of HR & Talent Solutions with The Talent Company, a human resources consulting firm that works closely with clients to develop, optimize and innovate their Talent practices. Kathleen possesses almost 10 years of experience in partnering with organizations to help them build their talent capacity as well as their HR and leadership teams. Kathleen is very active on both LinkedIn and Twitter.


For more information on The Talent Company and our customized solutions, visit

March 26, 2015

12 Traits of a Great Leader

Grow & Retain

People know effective leadership when they see it and simply holding a position in leadership doesn’t make someone a good leader. A great leader strives to help others reach their goals; they are always developing themselves, and act as a visionary for their organization.  Fresh from The Talent Company’s new Pulse on Leadership study (, we asked the study’s participants what they considered to be the top traits of a great leader.

Here are the Top 12 Traits of a Great Leader:

#12 – Open & Trusted – People want to work for a leader they can trust−a leader that has morals,  values, and integrity. An open and trusted leader will always get more from their team and have a stronger following. Leaders new to their role and/or to their team need to build their credibility and trust from their team over time. Unfortunately trust is a trait that can be lost quickly. Be honest, fair, candid and forthright, and treat everyone in the same way that you yourself would want to be treated.

#11 – Sense of Humour – A sense of humour shows your employees that you are more than a leader, and that you aren’t a machine, which encourages them to feel comfortable around you.

#10 – Empathetic – People want their leader to have a caring side. Great leaders care about their  people, not just about the business. It’s not about their ego, it’s about humility. It’s not about fulfilling  personal agendas, it’s about helping their people to be successful.

#9 – Self-Awareness – A great leader not only understands the many different traits needed to effectively lead others; they also have a strong awareness of their own qualities, strengths and areas to continuing to develop themselves. When they look into the mirror, they see who they really are and how others see them versus who they imagine they are.

#8 – Passionate & Optimistic – People want to work with and for people who lift them up instead of dragging them down. A great leader seeks out the positives in their people, helping them overcome their own feelings of self-doubt and spreading passion and optimism throughout the organization. Passion is infectious. Others will feel it and want to get on board with you.

#7 – Results Focused – At the end of the day as a leader you are responsible for delivering results. What really counts is what is accomplished. Great leaders spend their energy on the most effective actions and activities to achieve the greatest outcomes.

#6 – Personal Accountability – A great leader takes ownership of situations that they are involved in. They see them through and take responsibility for what happens – both good or bad. They don’t point fingers and blame others when things go wrong but do their best to make things right.

#5 – Talent Focused – To become a great leader, you must build and develop a great team. The ability to recruit great new talent while focusing on the individual and collective growth and development of your team is often overlooked as a trait of a great leader. How can you as a leader be successful if you don’t have great talent around you?

#4 – Strong Communicator – Communication is one of the fundamental capabilities of a great leader.  Communication is a two-way conversation with listening as important as speaking. Great leaders listen more than they speak and the more personal and engaging the conversation is, the more effective it will be.

#3 – Supportive – A great leader supports their team members by creating an environment where it is safe to take risks, be honest, speak up and reach their potential. Truly effective leaders not only recognize potential, they feed it, prepare it, and allow their team to exercise it. They know when to shield their team from controversy, protect them and keep them focused on the most important tasks.

#2 – Commitment – Nothing shows commitment and humility like getting your hands dirty with the rest of your team. Showing your commitment sets the example for others to follow, and leads to greater loyalty and respect for you as a leader.

#1 – Inspiration & Vision – A great leader is able to paint a vivid picture of where their team and organization is headed. Try to paint and communicate a vision of the future that inspires your people to do whatever it takes to get there. People want to work toward something they believe in – it gives your team a reason to work, to succeed, and to do their best in everything they do.


Leadership doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it can’t be learned overnight. To be successful as a leader, you must approach it as a long-term journey of continuous reflection and self-improvement.

For more results from The Talent Company’s Pulse on Leadership study please click here

Pulse on Leadership


Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for Recruitment and Talent Management Solutions at The Talent Company –      Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes.  Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company.  Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices. Simon can be reached at

For more information on The Talent Company please visit

New Talent Company_logo

February 12, 2015

The Top 10 Things to Look For When Hiring an HR Consultant

Executive Coaching 2

Organizations face challenges when it comes to both the capacity and capabilities of their internal HR team.  Many organizations hire HR consultants or firms to complement the skills and resourcing of their HR team.  Hiring an HR consultant is a significant decision and investment for your organization and not just in terms of money.  A great consultant will provide your organization with greater effectiveness and efficiencies ……and let’s face it, they will make you look good with making the decision to hire them.  Unfortunately in today’s market, there are more poor HR consultants than great ones.  Organizations need to do the proper due diligence when hiring an HR consultant or firm.

So what are the top things you should look for in hiring an HR consultant or HR consulting firm to help your organization?  Here are my top 10 recommendations:

1 – A strong track record of success as an HR consultant – They know what they are doing and have been successful with other similar projects for previous clients.

Be careful you don’t choose an HR consultant whose preference isn’t to be a consultant.  I know many consultants who would rather be in a permanent opportunity back in the corporate world and are simply doing consulting until the right opportunity comes along.  With these cases, they will start the project but as soon as a better opportunity comes along they will leave you and the project short-handed.  Always go with the consultant who chose to be a consultant and has a passion for this choice of work style.

Key Question to Ask – Tell me about the similar projects you have worked on previously?  Why did you become an HR consultant?  Tell me about a project you weren’t successful in delivering?

2 – A strong track record of success as a corporate HR leader – What was their experience prior to becoming a consultant.  Do they understand the corporate and organizational dynamics you and your team live with every day and the pressures you face in terms of the project deliverables versus the realities of the capacity and capabilities of their team.  Have they “walked a mile in their client’s shoes”?

Key Question to Ask – Tell me about your experience before you become a consultant?

3 – Ensure they provide previous client project references with whom you are encouraged to contact…..and you should contact their references – The proof is always in the pudding!  Ensure you do your due diligence on the HR consultant and/or firm on their track record.  This should be a deal breaker if they aren’t able to provide at least 3 project references with contact information for the actual stakeholders in the project.  Invest the time to connect with their references and that they provide you with the complete picture of the consultant’s work and their project outcome and results.

Key Question to Ask – Will you provide me with a list of your client references from your past projects for me to contact?

4 – Expertise in a specific core area of HR – I’ve never met an HR consultant who is an expert in all aspects of Human Resources.  Every consultant has their core areas of focus and that is their sweet spot.  Hiring a Labour Relations expert to develop an organizational Total Rewards strategy doesn’t make a lot of sense…..definitely would make sense to hire a Total Rewards expert.  I am a big believer in surrounding myself with experts from the critical functional areas I need – hence the range of expertise of the consultants at my firm….we are all experts within a specific area of HR and our clients benefit from the best of the best (sorry for the shameless plug J)   Bottom line, ensure the consultant you are looking to hire is not a “jack of all, master of none” when it comes to their core area of expertise.

Key Question to Ask – What area of HR is your core expertise in?  What makes you an expert in this area?  What do you recommend I do if I need expertise in another area of HR for this project?

5 – Connected in the market on the latest trends and best practices – You want a consultant who understands the latest in trends, practices and developments within their area of expertise.  You want a consultant who knows what works and doesn’t work for organizations similar in nature to yours.  A great consultant will use multiple platforms (such as their networks, publications, etc.) to keep themselves educated on what’s hot in the market.  Watch out for consultants have been consulting for so long without keeping up-to-date on the current practices in the market…..they are selling you a solution that is already outdated and won’t be successful with your organization.

Key Question to Ask – How do you keep on top of the latest trends and developments within your area of expertise?  What are the latest trends and developments that will be considered as you deliver this solution for my organization?

6 – Integrity & Trust – These are the foundational values of the person and their firm that you need to be certain of when hiring a consultant.  You are hiring a consultant to tell you the truth about a specific aspect of organization and function.  If you don’t feel you can trust the consultant, don’t work with them.  Ensure you ask their project references about their level of trust with the consultant.

Key Question to Ask – Give me an example of a time that tells me about your level of integrity when working on a project for a client?

7 – Someone you and your colleagues want to work with – You want to work with a consultant you will enjoy working with.  You enjoy them as a person when you meet with them.  They are professional and have a pleasant personality…..and they don’t come across as a “used car sales person” type when you meet them.  They act as a trusted advisor to you…….and you never hesitate to pick up the phone to ask them a question or get advice.  You want a consultant who will work well with your colleagues – both in HR and in the business.  Remember, if part of their mandate on the project is to work with the business, they are representing you and you shouldn’t have to worry about how they will interact with your colleagues in the business.

Key Question to Ask –What is your approach to building successful relationships with the stakeholders on a project?

8 – Commitment to the project – Successful consultants will always be in demand with organizations.  You need to ensure your consultant won’t be spread too thin with too many other projects at the same time as your project or that they will delegate your project to a junior member of their team who will do all the work on the project.  You need to ensure you set expectations up front with the consultant in terms of their time commitments with your project and ensuring the project will be successfully completed within the agreed upon timelines.

Key Question to Ask – Who will be doing the work on my project from your organization?  How many other projects and clients are you currently working with?  How will you ensure my project is completed within the agreed upon timelines?

9 – Provides a project plan – A project plan is the foundation to any successful project.  A project plan not only defines the scope and steps to deliver the project, but also provides a breakdown to the stakeholders on the key project milestones, how to minimize the risk with the project while recognizing the importance of delivering on time, communication touch points and project updates.  The project plan is the true agreement between the consultant and your organization on the scope of their role, the deliverables and the cost.  The project plan also protects the consultant from project “scope creep” and being asked to deliver services and solutions that aren’t part of the agreed on scope.  Beware of any consultant who doesn’t develop a project plan with their client.

Key Question to Ask – As part of your proposal, will you provide an example of your project plan?  Tell me about what typically goes into your project plan for this type of assignment?

10 – Provides practical customized solutions for your organization – Many consultants try to simply re-purpose their past work for new clients providing an “off-the-shelf” solution for your organization that likely won’t work.  You want a consultant who invests the time to understand your workplace, culture and environment and will provide real solutions with a step-by-step blueprint on the “how to”……..not simply presenting a high level model and leaving it up to you to figure out how to execute and implement.  Look for consultant who are realists and aren’t trying to sell you a “pie in the sky” solution they say will solve all of your problems.

Key Question to Ask – Tell me about your approach to this project?  We are a unique organization, how will you ensure your solution is practical for us?


New Talent Company_logo

Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for Recruitment, Talent and HR Solutions at The Talent Company –   Simon is recognized as a global consulting leader in the acquisition and management of talent and has successfully transformed the Recruitment function for organizations of all sizes across the globe.  Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions.   He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company.   Simon is a featured speaker at a number of Business, Leadership and Human Resource conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices. Simon’s full profile can be found at

January 8, 2015

The Talent Company Announces The Results Of Its Pulse on Leadership Study


Pulse on Leadership

Markham, Ontario, Canada – January 8, 2015 – The Talent Company, a management consulting firm specializing in human resources solutions announces the results of its most recent study – Pulse on Leadership.

The Talent Company launched the Pulse on Leadership study as a follow up to a recurring, yet important theme found in last year’s study HR Pulse. “Although it wasn’t a surprise to see the topic of leadership come up as being important to so many of our survey participants, it was very interesting to see how so many viewed it as the primary gap within their organization.” says Simon Parkin, Managing Partner at The Talent Company. “We knew with our newest Pulse on Leadership study this had to be explored further. I’m proud to say that our team has uncovered very compelling data which we’re excited to share with leaders and HR communities around the world”.

Individuals invited to participate in the Pulse on Leadership study included business leaders, HR professionals as well as employees with their own perspective and experiences on the topic of leadership.  A snapshot of the results from this study include:

  • Obstacles organizations face in developing an effective leadership development program.
  • The top leadership traits when comparing female versus male leaders.
  • The most popular methods that companies use to develop leaders.…..and much more

Results of the Pulse on Leadership study can be found by registering here (

“It was once again a pleasure to have been involved in this meaningful initiative with The Talent Company.  Insights within the HR and Talent space have always been of great interest to me.” says Brian Boudreau, Chief Insights Officer with Innovation Curation.  “This study was important for a variety of reasons but most importantly because of the prevalence and impact that strong leadership can have on company performance and the retention of talent.”

About The Talent Company

The Talent Company is a management consulting firm that specializes in human resources solutions.  We are an organization comprised of leading Human Resources, Talent Management, Recruitment, and Leadership experts with proven track records of client and organizational success.  Our collective resources, vast experience and extensive industry knowledge enhance our ability to deliver outstanding value to our clients.  For more information, please visit

About Innovation Curation

Innovation Curation is a market research firm that specializes in identifying and socializing insights on customers to orient and inspire value-creating strategy and tactics.  For more information, please visit



Joe Minaudo

The Talent Company



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