Posts tagged ‘pulse study’

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

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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.


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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 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.


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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

December 11, 2014

12 Days of Talent: Day 4 – 4 Reasons Why Onboarding Is Your Competitive Advantage


4 Reasons Why Onboarding Is Your Competitive Advantage

In a world of hyper efficiency and doing more with less, Onboarding for most is an aspect focused on short-term tasks and getting a new hire settled in. It often starts with being brought to their desk, given a laptop, asked to setup their voicemail, email and then of course, the journey starts to fill out copious forms and reading through mind numbing company documents that “help you get familiar with us”. Our view is that this common approach is too systematic and critically void of what Onboarding is truly supposed to be – a human experience.

Onboarding is not a checklist, nor should it be an attempt to get a new hire to a desk and setup. It is a unique opportunity to show your new member that your external brand mirrors your internal brand. What is promoted externally as a wonderful place to build a career is not only words on a website but is in fact tangible and can be experienced within every aspect of your organization. Additionally, Onboarding should be an experience that provides a new employee with the opportunity to engage, socialize, understand your company’s culture and embrace its core values.

For the few that recognize Onboarding as a competitive edge, it is considered a series of milestones that can often last up to one year. For these exemplars, Onboarding includes mentoring and coaching, networking opportunities, formal goal setting, training, development plans and it is integrated into the talent management process and part of the overall talent strategy. Executing on this well not only produces an engaged employee but it also generates the following:

  1. New brand ambassadors for your company and, hopefully, a source for new and otherwise untapped candidate pipelines
  2. Valuable competitive and industry intelligence
  3. Robustness in your talent management program as existing employees are given opportunities to expand their skills beyond functional areas
  4. Leadership becoming more “connected” to their employee base.

Within these organizations, Onboarding is a shared accountability. It is not the responsibility of HR but rather includes the contribution of many. More importantly, the onus resides with the performance manager to ensure the new hire has a successful first year.

Companies that view Onboarding as a set of painful steps facilitated by checklists are missing out on a unique opportunity. It is a short window of opportunity that provides you with a chance to connect, engage and develop the talent that you have hired, not another number that is added to a report.


Joe Minaudo is the leader of the Recruitment 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 tools LinkedIn and Twitter.

For more information on The Talent Company and our 12 Days of Talent project, visit

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December 10, 2014

12 Days of Talent: Day 5 – 5 Steps To Building Proactive Pipelines of External Talent


5 Steps To Building Proactive Pipelines of External Talent

One of the continuing challenges facing the Recruitment function is moving from the traditional, reactive and primarily transactional focus to a proactive and enhanced recruitment model.

Think about when you sit down with your hiring leaders to scope a new open position and the role details. When you ask the hiring leaders for a proposed start date for a new hire, how many of them responded with “ASAP” or “yesterday”? How many of your hiring leaders complain about the time it takes to recruit talent externally? And how many of us recruiters continue to get frustrated with these unrealistic pressures from hiring leaders? We know that for the most part, top external talent just doesn’t fall into our laps.

Effective sourcing takes time especially for tougher and more specialized positions to fill.

Over the past few years, I have been working with clients to build and develop effective proactive pipelines of top external talent. Building this type of pipeline isn’t for the light-hearted; it takes time and effort and requires planning, proper resourcing, as well as a skilled recruiter. The planning and the resourcing are the keys to success – proactive pipelining cannot be successfully implemented without the appropriate amount of time devoted to this initiative by a skilled sourcer and recruiter.

The return on investment of proactive pipelining is more than worth the effort. I have witnessed first-hand the enhanced quality of hire via this proactive channel as time is no longer the recruiter’s enemy. Beyond quality of hire, the average time to fill a position is reduced by on average 10-12 days as the sourcing of the top external talent has already been completed prior to the position becoming open.

So how do you get started with building these proactive pipelines of external talent? I look at it as a simple 5 step process:







#1 – Plan

By far the most important step of this process is the planning. Within the planning stage you need to determine what position or positions you plan on building these pipelines for. I would recommend selecting only a few positions, those you and your business deem “critical” to your organization’s success and bottom line either now or within the next year. Determining what positions are “critical” is a difficult task. If you ask any hiring leader they will say that all of their open positions are “critical”. This will force you to walk a political tight rope to prioritize “criticalness”. You should work with the top-level business leaders to determine which positions they think are “critical”. Once you have your critical position(s) identified, you need to invest your time into understanding all about the position and why it would be attractive to potential candidates. Remember, as it is proactive, you are recruiting for a position that isn’t currently open. Knowing all the features and the upside of the position will allow you to effectively sell the potential opportunity to the top talent.

#2 – Identify

Once the planning is complete it is time to identify the top external talent in the market. This is where your skills as a top recruiter will come into play and requires you to be at the top of your game. I always go by the rule that the majority of the top talent in the external market is passive and not actively searching for a new opportunity. Your typical transactional and reactive recruitment sourcing channels won’t effectively work, so don’t count on simply posting the position to job boards as a solution to attract top talent. Be aggressive. Use your networks and referrals to determine who is at the top of their field within the market. Who is the top talent at your competition, or within a recognized leading top talent organization within your geographic area? Get out of the office and do some true recruiting to identify those resources outside your organization that will bring value and success to your company.

 #3 – Build

This is when you worry about getting them interested and excited about your organization. You have identified the individuals you think are the best of the best for the skill set you are looking for. Now it is time to determine the ideal approach to contact and sell to this talent in order to effectively build your proactive pipeline. Again, this is where a recruiter must be a “salesperson” and effectively sell the talent on the organization and the opportunities potentially coming in the future. You must be honest and set expectations that you are recruiting proactively for future opportunities and they have been identified to you as top talent within the market. Don’t be too aggressive with the candidate and always ask if it is alright to keep in touch within an agreed upon timeframe. Also use this opportunity to network further and ask for referrals for other positions you are recruiting for. Be careful to ensure the communication with these candidates is very positive and is a “win-win” for both the candidate and you as the recruiter.

#4 – Manage

By “Manage”, I mean, effectively manage your pipelined candidates. You need to ensure you nurture and speak with your pipelined candidates on a regular basis as was established and agreed upon when you first spoke with the candidates. If possible use technology to effectively document and track your pipeline – this is where a CRM tool could be effectively used by recruiters similar to the way salespeople use this tool for building and managing sales pipelines.

Steps 2, 3 and 4 are ongoing. You should always be on the lookout for new top talent externally and ensure you are effectively building and managing your pipelines. Again, this is an investment and will pay off when your organization most needs it to.

#5 – Execute

Step 5 is sometimes forgotten and it is simply to execute once one of your critical positions becomes open. Your sourcing is hopefully already complete and now when your hiring leaders answer your “when would you like the person to start” with “ASAP” you can pull out a slate of pre-sourced and qualified top external talent and sit back and relax………ok, maybe not relax but you will be feeling very good about your efforts as will your business leaders.

And of course, you need to continually monitor the success of your proactive pipelining efforts – how are you going to show your business leaders the ROI of your efforts?

Obviously there are many more details within each of these 5 steps to effectively build proactive pipelines of external talent and I hope this high level description provides insight into how to further add value to your organization’s hunt for key talent.


 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

For more information on The Talent Company and our 12 Days of Talent project, visit

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December 5, 2014

12 Days of Talent: Day 8 – 8 Practices to Develop Your Leaders


8 Practices to Develop Your Leaders

The success of any organization is highly dependent on its leaders. While there is no substitute for choosing the right leaders to begin with, leaders can become more successful through the development of a sound leadership development strategy that utilizes a number of the practices identified below.  Leadership development has been linked as a positive financial driver and a true competitive edge between companies that have strong leadership development programs and to those that do not.

Fresh from the results of The Talent Company’s Pulse on Leadership study, we asked the study’s participants what are the top practices their organization’s use to develop leaders.

Here are the Top 8 organizational practices used to develop leaders:

#8 – Mentorship – Mentorship refers to a professional developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.  For leadership development purposes there is value in leaders or potential leaders being on both sides of a mentoring relationship.  They can gain from the experience and insight from a more experienced leader who is their mentor or develop leadership qualities through being a mentor to a less experienced employee.

#7 – 360-Degree Feedback – Research has consistently shown that 360-degree feedback is one of the most effective tools available for developing leaders. The main benefit is that it develops the essential self-awareness that motivates people to understand and ultimately develop themselves.

#6 – Rotational Assignments – Leaders gain knowledge and skills by learning different roles and/or facets of the organization over a set period of time.  These assignments enhance a leader’s knowledge, accomplishments, reach, impact, and influence across different aspects of their organization.

#5 – Executive Education – These are the academic programs at business schools worldwide for executives, business leaders and managers.  Many of the schools offer customized programs, which are tailored for the leaders within a specific organization.  Customized programs help organizations increase leadership capability by combining the science of business and performance management into specialized programs that enable leaders to develop new knowledge, skills and attitudes.

#4 – Stretch Assignments – The stretch assignment is a project or task given to leaders or potential new leaders which are beyond their current knowledge, skill level and comfort zone.  The stretch assignment challenges leaders by placing them into uncomfortable situations in order to learn and grow.

#3 – Action learning – Action learning involves putting participants into teams and having each team solve a real strategic challenge for their organization. The outcome is typically a recommendation to senior management that is either accepted or rejected. With the right levels of guidance, studies have shown action learning to be one of the most powerful leadership development practices available.

#2 – Executive Coaching – Having a great personal coach can be far more powerful than attending the best training. More and more organizations are making use of personal coaching for leadership development. Key ingredients of a great coach are training, relevant experience and objectivity.

#1 – A combination of all or a few of the leadership development practices identified above – The top organizations recognized for their strong leadership development programs utilize a combination of a number of leadership development practices identified above.


Leadership doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it can’t be learned overnight. For an organization to be successful at developing their leader, you must approach it as a long-term journey of continuous growth and development.  Stay tuned for more results from The Talent Company’s Pulse on Leadership study.


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 and our 12 Days of Talent project, visit

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February 10, 2014

Trends in Talent Acquisition for 2014

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the HRPA conference in Toronto on a few of the trends we are seeing within the Talent Acquisition function in Canada.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to speak at a number of Human Resources conferences around North America each year and always enjoy how engaged the Toronto conference participants are with the challenges their organizations face with recruitment in Canada.

So what makes me so knowledgeable with the current state of Talent Acquisition?  As a former Global Recruitment Leader from a Fortune 100 company and having spent the last 6 years working closely with organizations of all sizes across every industry in every continent across the globe, I get exposed to every aspect of recruitment innovations, practices, and challenges.  I also participate in a roundtable event for senior recruitment leaders from the largest organizations in Canada held every 3 months where we discuss and debate the latest and greatest in recruitment practices.

So what’s going on in Talent Acquisition in Canada these days?  Number 1 is that many organizations are finally back to a focus on growth in terms of their talent – but smart growth.  Organizations are still being very cautious with their headcount and ensuring that the growth is focused on the customer facing roles best equipped to drive revenue and margins for their business.  Organizations are finally gearing up their recruitment efforts and ensuring their talent acquisition functions are appropriately equipped to source and select top talent once again…or so we hope. The past 5 years in the world of Talent Acquisition in Canada has been centred under one main theme – “doing more with less”.

Unfortunately most organizations in Canada are not prepared for the focus on growth specifically as it relates to their talent acquisition functions.  Based on my current observations, recruitment within most organizations in Canada is:

  • Under-funded based on the expectations and needs of the business;
  • Limited by the capacity of their current recruitment function;
  • Limited by the capabilities of their current recruitment function;
  • Treated as a transactional administrative process.

The key challenges within Talent Acquisition continue to remain the same:

  1. Finding good candidates.
  2. Filling positions quickly.
  3. Engaging the hiring managers and getting them to see recruitment as a priority.
  4. Candidate care and experience with the recruitment process.

So what are some of the other trends in the Canadian recruitment market?

teamwork business concept - cube assembling from blocks

“Unplugging your ATS”

Before all the Applicant Tracking System providers get mad at me let me explain this point.  There is finally a push amongst organizations to “humanize” their recruitment process and get back to old school basic recruitment practices.  These old school recruitment practices simply involve ensuring there are live human-to-human touch points within the recruitment process – not so innovative when you really think about it.  However, these old school recruitment functions recognize that their candidates are also potential customers and clients and appreciate every candidate’s interest in their organization regardless of their qualifications.  A quick live conversation with a candidate will go a long way to appreciate their time and interest in your organization.

For years organizations have built a wall of technology around their recruitment function – not sure what they are truly trying to guard within those walls.  Candidates continue to be frustrated with investing their time in applying to an organization through their website and feeling as though their resumes are simply dumped into a “black hole”.  Sales and marketing professionals would go crazy hearing the way most recruitment functions treat people (a.k.a. consumers) who have expressed an interest in an organization and walk away from the process feeling frustrated and unappreciated.

Many organizations are beginning to realize the benefits of moving from an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM).   The candidate centric CRM technology is helping to transform the focus of Recruitment functions and follow more of the sales and marketing principles and practices.  Hopefully this trend continues to gain momentum over the year and more organizations show candidates some appreciation.

Aggressive Candidate Sourcing

Over the past year, I have seen a significant rise in the demand for my firm’s assistance in designing and developing a greater organizational focus and capability on candidate sourcing.  Companies want to be more aggressive when it comes to candidate sourcing – so the corporate intentions are there to get away from the “Post & Pray” culture they have been used to.

The biggest obstacle for organizations in becoming more aggressive in candidate sourcing is their own capacity, or should I say the lack of capacity.  Recruitment resources at most organizations are already spread too thin these days.  On average, Recruiters are responsible for 30 to 40 open positions at one time.  Quality and aggressive sourcing takes both time and skill which is not possible when your current resources are constrained to simply operating in a reactive recruitment mode.  Organizations are beginning to look for ways to overcome this obstacle and are investing in new dedicated sourcing specialists to complement their Recruiters and hunt the market for talent.

Many of the organizations we work with are spending significant amounts of money and budget on great recruitment tools like LinkedIn Recruiter Seats and other social media platforms.  Unfortunately, these same organizations are not leveraging these costly tools to their fullest.  Most organizations and their Recruiters are not utilizing the direct candidate sourcing power of LinkedIn.  They are simply using LinkedIn for posting their open roles and are not taking advantage of all the great features LinkedIn provides for their clients.   It is critical to ensure your organization is getting the most effective use of the tools you are already paying for.

The starting point for an organization, who wants to be more aggressive and proactive with candidate sourcing, is to understand and align the business goals.  The business goals need to be translated into the talent strategy which should identify the key roles the organization will hire for over the next 6 months to 1 year.  These are the roles your sourcing function should build proactive talent pipelines for.   You cannot pipeline candidates for every role for your organization, it simply is not possible.  My recommendation is to target the top 3 to 5 key roles critical for your organization’s success and build a proactive talent pipelining strategy around them.

It takes an investment of time and money to evolve your organization into a talent hunter culture.

Deeper Assessment of Candidates – Challenging the Status Quo

According to a survey by Harris Interactive in 2013, the top influencing factors for managers in hiring candidates are:

  1. A candidate’s sense of humour (27%)
  2. A candidate’s involvement in the community (26%)
  3. The better dressed candidate (22%)
  4. Candidates with whom the hiring manager has more in common with (21%)
  5. Candidates who are physically fit (13%).

This study highlights the flaws in the current way hiring managers’ interview and assess candidates for roles within their organization.  It’s scary that following are missing from the list of the top influencing factors in hiring candidates:

  • Experience
  • Achievements
  • Organizational fit
  • Potential

Additionally, you need to assume 50% of your candidates misrepresent themselves on their resume or exaggerate their experience in an interview – are your hiring managers equipped to properly assess the candidates coming through your recruitment process?  One of the leading challenges I see with hiring managers and their interviewing practices is that they take everything candidates say as fact and rarely probe deeper into the answers candidates provide to their questions.

The format and structure of a typical candidate interview is also a challenge.  The average candidate interview is an hour.  Is an hour long interview really enough time to truly assess a candidate’s true skills and experience, their fit within the organization as well as their future potential?  When you break down the interview with the usually banter and small talk, include time for the candidate to ask questions, the hour long interview is now approximately 30 minutes long.  The hiring managers are most likely trying to get through as many of the questions as they can focusing on the quantity of questions they can ask versus the quality of the answers.

Another top challenge for an organization is to align its hiring managers with the organization’s talent strategy and goals.  Most hiring managers are simply trying to fill their open role without thinking of the new hire’s longer term potential within the organization.  As I have cited earlier, hiring managers have enough of a challenging time simply assessing a candidate’s skills and experience for the role and are rarely able to assess the candidate’s organizational fit and future potential.

Organizations are starting to realize the gaps within their interview process are directly related to the number of poor hires coming into their organization.  They are beginning to engage firms like The Talent Company to design and develop more thorough interviewing platforms and provide training for their hiring managers to be more thorough and confident in their interviewing practices.

A great business leader once told me that filling an open position is as important as any other business decision for a leader – every open position is an opportunity to upgrade your talent.  Unfortunately most organizations are not properly equipping their hiring managers with the appropriate training and tools to make the best hiring decisions.

The Balance between Candidate Romance & Assessment

We work with a number of organizations who are struggling with the balance between their candidate experience and selling the value proposition of the opportunity to the candidate versus using the appropriate level of assessments and number of interviews in order to make the right hiring decision.

There are a number of frightening statistics when it comes to hiring success:

  • According to a Leadership IQ study in 2013, 46% of new hires will fail within their first 18 months with an organization.
  • A Harris Interactive 2013 study points out that 61% of new hires are unhappy because they feel that they had been misled during the hiring process.
  • The Recruiting Roundtable in 2013 states that 50% of hiring organizations or the new hires themselves regret the decision they made.

When I see these numbers, I applaud organizations who are trying to do things differently.  They have recognized that they hiring practices are not working and they need to change.  They are trying new tools and methods to interview and assess candidates and their fit.  It’s a tough balance as candidates can quickly get frustrated with robust recruitment processes.

An organization should never feel the need to apologize for their robust recruitment process.  With the statistics cited above, an organization needs to do a more thorough job of understanding and assessing their candidates.  The following is a simple remedy to balance your candidate’s experience to ensure they still feel the “love” and can be smitten by the opportunity while gaining a deeper and more thorough perspective on the candidates:

  1. Expectations setting up front with the candidates on your recruitment process.
  2. Regular communication touch points with the candidates throughout your recruitment process to maintain their engagement with the opportunity.
  3. Follow-ups with candidates after each stage of the process to answer any questions or concerns they have with the organization and process.

The Canadian recruitment landscape continues to evolve each year with new innovative ways to recruit talent.  Organizations need to review the success they have had in acquiring and retaining talent on a regular basis.  They should not be afraid to look at and try new ways of recruiting talent and should always have the top outcome in mind – hiring the best talent for their organization.


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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’s full profile can be found at

Simon can be reached at

January 21, 2014

HR Consulting Firm The Talent Company Announces Scott Bryan as Vice President of Consulting

Markham, Ontario, Canada – January 21, 2014 – Human Resources consulting firm The Talent Company has announced the appointment of Scott Bryan as Vice President of Consulting.

“Scott’s addition to our executive leadership team is a significant step forward in the evolution of The Talent Company,” says Joe Minaudo, Partner of the Strategy and Transformation Advisory practice. “With Scott’s experience in providing some of the most complex and value-added Branding solutions, The Talent Company becomes well positioned to provide a more expanded offering in helping clients to attract, engage and retain top talent.”

Effective immediately, Scott Bryan becomes practice leader of The Talent Company’s Marketing, Branding and Communications practice. In addition, Scott will work closely with practice leaders within The Talent Company to expand market leadership and explore new client opportunities within the human resources advisory space.

“I’m sincerely delighted to join this talented and passionate group of experts. The partners at The Talent Company are some of the most well respected HR executives in the industry. I also look forward to building true partnerships with our clients as we provide them with practical solutions and support” says Scott Bryan.

The Talent Company is a human resources consulting firm that enables organizations to achieve superior business results through the strategic acquisition, management and elevation of talent. Our organization is comprised of leading human resources, executive coaching, compensation, and talent 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.

The Talent Company – Practical Solutions. Exceptional Results.


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Joe Minaudo

The Talent Company


October 4, 2013

The Coaching Imperative – An Interview with Alison Hendren, Master Certified Coach

 Executive Coaching 2

There is no doubt that the fastest growing competency in business today is that of Coaching. The reason for this is clear and quite simple – it works! The ever-increasing body of evidence around the ROI and cultural impact of Coaching is quite astounding.  From Fortune 500 companies to small entrepreneurial ventures, “C” suite executives and other organizational leaders, to the rank and file front line employees. All are seeing the value and benefits of Coaching as a core part of how they operate, the impact on people, and the bottom line.

I recently sat down with Alison Hendren, a pioneer in the coaching profession and founder of Coaching Out of the Box®, a Canadian owned and operated leader in coaching education. Coaching Out of the Box® works with companies in North America by training and supporting the development of coach trainers within an organization, or by the delivery of training directly to an organization by Coaching Out of the Box® itself. Although other programs like their coaching practicums are quickly growing in popularity, its flagship 5/5/5 Coaching Skills Training Program™ is gaining a tremendous amount of attention. They have had over 8,000 people attend their programs.

Bruce: So Alison, let’s cut right to the chase, why Coaching and why now?

Alison: Today’s fast paced and competitive work environment requires that we maximize the strengths and talent of all people in an organization. No longer does command and control work, and in order to retain talented and valued people, we must up our game to better support their ongoing development and satisfaction.  Honestly, it is a burning platform and organizations need all hands on deck!

Bruce: Why are leaders and organizations embracing Coaching at such a feverish rate?

Alison: It works!  One of our clients said to me recently, not only are you teaching people how to coach, you are creating raging advocates for Coaching.  People are energized when they are really listened to. They are excited to be challenged and enthusiastic to go and use these skills in their work and personal lives. They feel relief when they realize they are not responsible for figuring it all out on their own. Now they have a way to tap into the talent and abilities of others, and they love the structure of accountability that Coaching creates.

Bruce: What are the top three reasons you see organizations embracing Coaching as a core competency?


  1. Demand; their own people are asking for it.
  2. The urgency to dramatically increase leadership effectiveness.
  3. Time and Money:  Coaching is the most potent way I’ve seen to strengthen retention of valuable people, capitalize on everyone’s strengths and talent, and at the same time move farther, faster, easier, quicker and better than it would have without coaching.

Bruce: I have heard coaches speak about bringing a “coach approach” to the way they manage, facilitate, lead, etc. What exactly does that mean?

Alison: Great question!  It means that they bring the coaching skills they’ve learned to all that they do.  It is in the way they ask questions that are more effective in finding out and seeking ideas, creativity and innovation from others.  It is the way that they take the time to really listen to others and clarify exactly what they are hearing. The way they conduct meetings so that people are heard, excited and motivated to move forward, and everyone leaves knowing who is accountable for what.  Creating an environment of asking vs telling, being curious vs knowing, highlighting and focusing on people’s strengths, getting crystal clear as to what is the purpose of any conversation and what is the intended outcome.  I think you get the idea – there is so much more!

Bruce: What is the competitive advantage you see for those who invest in Coaching both personally and organizationally?

Alison: Think about it.  When you maximize the strengths and talent of everyone, accelerate learning and innovation, have people excited and committed to supporting each other’s success while at the same time dramatically increasing accountability, AND have it so it is applicable in people’s family and personal lives you’ve got one heck of an advantage.  This is what Coaching does!

Bruce: What was the driving factor for you in creating the “5/5/5” flagship training program?

Alison: Making it as easy as possible for people to learn Coaching, use it right away and be excited to learn and develop themselves and others.  I wanted to create a way for people to learn coaching so that even after a few hours of our 5/5/5 Program they have something they can use immediately.  A few years ago we were about two hours into the program when at the break a person came up to me and said they had learned more in two hours of our coaching program than they had after several days of with another coaching program.  Yes, let’s make it as easy as possible for busy executives, leaders, managers, all employees, to learn this!

Bruce: Can you describe the ‘typical’ participant who attends the 5/5/5 Coaching Skills Training program?

Alison: They are people who want to do well in their work and personal lives and are keen to learn more and grow their skills.  They have heard about the value of Coaching, or perhaps have experienced being coached themselves and are excited about taking their leadership skills to a whole other level.

Coaching Out of the Box will be delivering a series of events across in the coming months. For more information on an event near you, please click here.


Alison Hendren is founder of Coaching Out of the Box®, a Canadian owned and operated coaching education company. Alison also currently serves as the Director of Training for the Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching program at Royal Roads University, as well as being on Charter Faculty for the coaching program at the University of Texas, Dallas.

Bruce is the Practice Leader, Executive Coaching with The Talent Company – a management consulting firm that specializes in human resources solutions. Bruce holds a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University and has completed post secondary studies in law at Carleton University and Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University. He holds his Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credentials from the International Coach Federation. He also possesses more than 15 years of human resources experience working within a variety of sectors and industries.

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October 1, 2013

HR Consulting Firm The Talent Company Launches An Executive Coaching Practice


Markham, Ontario, Canada – September 25, 2013 – Human Resources consulting firm The Talent Company, announced today that it is launching a new Executive Coaching practice. In addition to an impressive roster of experienced coaches, this exciting and new practice will be lead by Bruce McLeod.

“As evidenced in our most recent international HR Pulse study, leadership development continues to be the key area of focus for most organizations,” says Simon Parkin, Managing Partner of The Talent Company. “Our Executive Coaching practice is well equipped to address this growing trend. With a seasoned leader like Bruce in place and a roster that includes some of the most accomplished and professionally accredited coaches available, The Talent Company possesses the expertise to support the talent development needs of our clients.”

The Executive Coaching practice at The Talent Company consists of a variety of options and solutions including helping our clients to build internal coaching capability and a foundation to grow leadership from within. Also, we possess an impressive roster of coaches with experience helping professionals realize their full potential in countries such as Canada, USA and Australia.

Please join Bruce McLeod and the leaders of The Talent Company at the upcoming Coaching Out of The Box™ event on November 6, 2013 in Toronto. Click here to find out more.


The Talent Company is a human resources consulting firm that enables organizations to achieve superior business results through the strategic acquisition, management and elevation of talent. Our organization is comprised of leading human resources, executive coaching, compensation, talent and 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.

The Talent Company – Practical Solutions. Exceptional Results.



Joe Minaudo

The Talent Company



New Talent Company_logo

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