Surprising #1 Predictor of Talent Acquisition Performance






The corporate talent acquisition (TA) landscape has long been seen as a reactive yet necessary cost of doing business. In the past, recruiters posted positions and then simply forwarded resumes of candidates to hiring managers in hopes of a match. This model worked because many organizations simply did not know of a better way to go about hiring. Today, however, many organizations are embracing a more strategic TA approach that is better suited to the increasing expectations of candidates, tighter labor markets, and the organizational transparency afforded by social media.

Our research found the most influential predictor of TA performance outcomes is a strong relationship between the recruiter and the hiring manager; in fact, this relationship is four times more influential than other TA performance drivers.[1] In the same study, we found a staggering 97 percent of mature TA functions report they have strong relationships with hiring managers, compared to only 56 percent at the lowest level of TA maturity. And our interviews found that the majority of TA leaders agree that recruiters who have the closest relationships with hiring managers outperform recruiters who do not have such close relationships.


While such relationships may seem commonplace, they do not always exist because the contemporary work environment is competitive and resource challenged. Hiring managers are eager to staff quickly to ensure their businesses can deliver results while maintaining positive working conditions for their team members—but they often don’t understand all the legwork required to fill a position. Recruiters, in turn, are incented to provide top talent for their organizations and are oftentimes measured on key metrics such as time to fill and hiring manager satisfaction—but they have no control over how fast a hiring manager responds to their requests to review resumes or set up interviews.


Fostering a positive relationship with a hiring manager is a journey that requires both patience and an honest assessment of the current state of the relationship. Many TA leaders believe their recruiters are perceived with high regard by hiring managers and company leadership; however, a 2014 study by ERE Media found that while recruiters and hiring managers have different views of recruiter performance—with recruiters giving themselves an average performance grade of B and hiring managers giving recruiters an average grade of C-plus—everyone agrees there is room for improvement.[2]


As recruiters move toward building more productive relationships with hiring managers, the TA function will shift from reactive or tactical recruiting to more strategic recruiting. We believe there are five steps TA leaders and recruiters can take to begin collaborating more effectively with hiring managers:[3]

·        Assess the current maturity of relationships with hiring managers: To understand the evolution of their relationships with hiring managers, we suggest TA leaders and recruiters start by assessing their current capabilities, evaluating the maturity of the hiring manager / recruiter relationship. 

·        Develop a strategy for open positions: When establishing the parameters for a new role, recruiters should develop a plan to address the needs of the hiring manager, the open role, and the larger talent concerns across the business. 

·        Conduct recruiting strategy kick-off meetings: During the recruiting strategy kick-off meeting, recruiters should present potential candidates from their existing networks in an effort to calibrate their understanding of the role and more clearly define specific candidate attributes that will impress the hiring manager.

·        Align expectations with service-level agreements (SLAs): Recruiters can deploy service-level agreements (SLAs) to make sure hiring managers’ expectations are properly aligned. SLAs define the roles and responsibilities for both hiring managers and recruiters during the recruiting process, as well as set realistic timelines for communication and other significant deliverables. 

·        Measure progress: The effectiveness of recruiter / hiring manager relationships is equally as important as more traditional measurements—such as time to fill, cost per hire, or candidate satisfaction metrics—yet it is often overlooked. The key lies in leveraging traditional metrics in tandem with evaluations of hiring manager satisfaction—what matters gets measured.


So what do you think? How else can recruiters better collaborate with hiring managers? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to add a comment below, connect with me on Twitter @RAEricksonPhD, or by email at









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Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.


[1] High-Impact Talent Acquisition: Key Findings and Maturity Model, Bersin by Deloitte / Robin Erickson, Ph.D., Kim Lamoureux, and Denise Moulton, 2014  

[2] Source: “Can This Relationship Be Saved?” Human Resource Executive Online / Andrew R. McIlvaine, June 5, 2014,  

[3] Partnering with Hiring Managers: How Recruiters Can Improve Talent Acquisition Performance, Bersin by Deloitte / Robin Erickson, Ph.D., and Denise Moulton, 2015.

Robin Erickson

Vice President, Talent Acquisition Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Robin leads talent acquisition, engagement, and retention research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Recognized as a thought leader in her areas of expertise, Robin offers more than 20 years of experience, including prior experience in talent strategies consulting and research for Deloitte’s Human Capital practice. Robin led Deloitte’s global Talent 2020 longitudinal survey series and her work has appeared in several issues of Deloitte Review and in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends reports. She holds a doctoral degree in organizational communication and change, as well as a master’s in communication, from Northwestern University. Robin also has a master’s degree in theology from Northern Seminary and a bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago.

3 thoughts on “Surprising #1 Predictor of Talent Acquisition Performance

  1. Dr. Erickson,

    I hope the strong relationship between recruiter and hiring manager does not mean they both do the same tasks.

    "with recruiters giving themselves an average performance grade of B and hiring managers giving recruiters an average grade of C-plus"

    That makes sense since they are doing two different tasks. Recruiters bring candidates in while hiring managers decide who to hire. Recruiters and hiring managers need to use the same yard stick when evaluating candidates so that they can agree on who to hire.

    ≈ 80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
    ≈ 80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
    * The two 80 percents are closely related.

    Employers keep hiring the wrong people to be their managers and then they wonder why they have so few successful, engaged employees. Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employees lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
    I. Competence
    II. Cultural Fit
    III. Job Talent 

    Employers do a… 

    A. GREAT job of hiring competent employees, about 95%
    B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture, about 70%
    C. POOR job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job, about 20%

    Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
    I. Competence
    II. Cultural Fit
    III. Job Talent

    There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless "hiring talent" means "hiring employees." Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
    A. How do we define talent?
    B. How do we measure talent?
    C. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    D. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    E. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

    Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

    Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.

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