Optimizing for the Future: Now Is the Time for Mid-Market TA Strategy
Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends indicates a not-so-surprising truth: talent acquisition (TA) sits at the center of the business, as this function is responsible for identifying the talent to propel businesses forward. A standard approach that works for every organization does not exist today; and for TA teams working in the mid-market, determining the best way to engage talent is sometimes a mystery. Candidates may not know mid-market companies, and therefore may lack the excitement that comes with other big-name employment brands. Additionally, the advent of new technologies and the changing nature of teams and collaboration make things more challenging and require mid-market TA to evolve to meet the changing demands of the business and workforce.
Get in the TA game—now!
Despite those challenges, mid-market companies continue to thrive. At the close of 2017, hiring and business confidence remained above historical norms. Business leaders don’t want a plan; they expect real-time results. This puts mid-market TA teams in a unique and urgent situation. According to our recent High-Impact Talent Acquisition research, fewer than one-half of mid-market firms have begun to develop a TA strategy and remarkably, one-third have no TA strategy at all.
The key for smaller TA teams is to let go of the tactical, often transactional approach that has historically plagued them. A lack of strategy today does not mean that teams in transition should lead with tactics in the hope of quick gains. Instead, by leveraging their nimble nature and penchant for agility, mid-market TA can introduce an approach that satisfies needs while establishing a foundation that can scale as needed. Mid-market TA teams can overcome latent perceptions and organizational hurdles (e.g., lack of resources) by making a few simple tweaks to their comfort zones.
Define value and deliver
Mid-market TA can strengthen and elevate the function by redefining practices and improving core capabilities, such as sourcing and assessing candidates. High-performing mid-market TA teams are already evaluating candidates based on a variety of factors, often focusing on cultural fit and potential just as much as demonstrated skills and prior experiences (see image below). As these new sourcing techniques advance, recruiters will be well-equipped to connect the dots between that candidate’s great resume and on-the-job success.
Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2017.
Smaller TA teams can also make big strides by placing a greater emphasis on key TA programs, such as internal mobility. The notion that talent pipelines consist of only external candidates is outdated. Modern organizations recognize that internal mobility is not only a great way to fill open roles but also helps with employee retention and engagement. High-performing TA functions are five times more likely to offer a strategic approach to internal mobility than those functions taking a more traditional, external-only approach. It is time for mid-market TA to catch on to this trend.
Big shift, bigger opportunity
A TA strategy and new sourcing approach are just starters. Ultimately, mid-market TA must grow their capabilities and in many cases, it means getting back to the basics. TA teams are often a mash-up of individuals who have “fallen” into recruiting. This allows for wonderful diversity of thought; however, with the function changing rapidly, it is easy to see how basic skill development is overlooked in lower-performing organizations (see image below). It’s important for mid-market TA to continuously boost capabilities in core areas (e.g., regulatory compliance, sourcing), while experimenting with more advanced opportunities (e.g., predictive data, cognitive technologies) as they journey toward optimizing the function for the future.
Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2017.
What are we waiting for?
The time has come to increase focus on TA. Through constant change and growth, the mid-market environment is rich with innovation and agility, and ready to tackle workforce challenges. Armed with a real strategy, some new sourcing techniques, and improved skills overall, mid-market TA teams can thrive and feel more empowered to optimize the function for the future.
 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: Rewriting the rules for the digital age, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte University Press, 2017, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html.
 4Q 2017 Middle Market Indicator, The Ohio State University / National Center for the Middle Market, 2017, www.middlemarketcenter.org/Media/Documents/MiddleMarketIndicators/2017-Q4/FullReport/NCMM_MMI_Q4_2017_FINAL_web.pdf.
 Six Key Insights to Put Talent Acquisition at the Center of Strategy and Execution, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, and Denise Moulton, 2018.