Disrupted! A Talent Acquisition Perspective

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Disruption happens every day across the corporate world. As employees, we experience reorgs, layoffs and acquisitions, and as disrupters ourselves we move cross country, chase ideas and challenge norms. But amidst all the disruption we all experience, some of us seem to thrive in times of turmoil.

These are the communicators who have mastered the two secret arts hidden within corporate disruption: learning how to establish a compelling brand and build an intriguing career narrative. They are skills that take time to perfect, but they’re the differentiator factors between those who are cast adrift from disruption and those who prosper from it.

We believe in this strongly…and it’s why we wrote our latest book: Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career.

But don’t just take our word for it. On this episode, Hurst Williamson is joined by 2 Talent Acquisition specialists to share their perspectives on the trends they see every day and what makes a job candidate successful…or forgettable.

More About the Guests

Elisa Abner-Taschwer is the Talent Acquisition Manager at FORUM Credit Union in Fishers, Indiana. She has over 30 years of HR experience, primarily in Talent Acquisition. Elisa lives with her husband of 27 years and their Mini Golden Doodle, Max.

Lauren Baksh, M.Ed. is the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Graphic Packaging International. She has over ten years of talent management experience in the manufacturing industry and currently supports her team with the design and execution of holistic recruiting experiences for US salaried positions. Lauren lives in Atlanta with her husband, two daughters, and two fur babies.

Show Notes

  • Careers are no longer on a straight and narrow path.
    • People will change their job/career 7-10 times throughout their career.
    • Interview determines if there will be a next change in a person’s career.
  • What does it take to make a job a candidate memorable or forgettable?
  • What percentage of people are good at interviewing?
    • Less than 5%
    • Not as many people are good at interviewing that think they are good at interviewing.
    • Those that think they are good at interviewing usually lack authenticity.
  • What goes wrong in an interview?
    • Lack of prep – didn’t know much about the company or the interviewer.
    • Lacked confidence – unaware of body language.
    • Lacked impact – didn’t understand their experiences well.
    • Prospective employee must be interviewing the company as well as being interviewed by the company.
    • Preparation will help a candidate seal the deal.
    • Good story tellers have better impact in an interview.
  • Virtual vs. In-Person Interviews
    • Same challenges exist in a virtual interview as an in person interview.
    • Candidates see virtual as more informal and have a low awareness of their setting and background.
    • Fewer people ghost virtual interviews.
  • When prepping for a virtual interview, consider it the same as if you are going to meet with someone – dress professionally
  • Potential employers encourage prospective employees to ask questions about the attire and the platform being used to the interview
  • How many resumes for a potential position are reviewed?
    • Far too many
    • 20-30+ resumes for an open position
    • 30-50 resumes
  • What really makes a candidate stand out?
    • Individuals who understand the organization and the culture
    • Candidates with confidence in themselves and the ability to have a good vision as to what they want in their new position
    • Candidates must be a good cultural fit
    • Candidates must ask questions in the interview and understand the opportunity
  • The most critical skills for a top candidate:
    • Problem solving and thinking
    • Collaboration and cooperation
    • Communication and influence
  • Advice to stand-out in interviews:
    • Translate the experience you had with the job you want to do. Think about things that you’ve done that have given you that experience
    • Update your resume annually and add accomplishments from the previous years.
    • Highlight how you work on a team
  • Candidates approach an interview very reactively
    • Understand the resume is a list – make sure to drive the interview and conversation
    • Have a reactive and proactive interview
    • Be prepared to  highlight your key aspects
    • Be able to shape your narrative and asked questions about the company while staying authentic
    • Come with questions to make it a conversation.
  • Employers are looking for people that want to work for the company not the job
  • Is there a war for talent? It’s a very favorable market for talent right now
  • Companies are trying to be the company that people want to join and understand that not all candidates are going to have 100% of the skills that are being looked for in a candidate.
  • Candidates must show up as their authentic self.
  • Employees own their development and the company and their manager are there to support the individual. Take a risk and it might change!


Order Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career today here or on Amazon.


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Disrupted: Chapter 19 – “Corporate Priorities – Insights from Talent Acquisition”

Hear more about the Talent Acquisition Perspective on our podcast!Click here to order Disrupted!

Read Chapter 1 – Disrupted!

Read Chapter 3 – Corporate Disruption – Insights from Talent Development

Talent acquisition is often a team whose responsibilities are a little vague to most employees. Once you join a company, you may not pay much attention to what they’re doing. After all, they’re in charge of hiring people and you’ve already been hired. But there’s a little more to their function. Talent acquisition supports a company’s strategy by ensuring they have the right people in the right roles at the right time. And this means that the fast-paced shifts within a company put an acquisition or recruitment team under pressure to find the talent they need.

Here’s how they define their focus:

  • Acquiring high-quality candidates who offer skills needed for current roles
  • Building a diverse talent pool to meet current and future business needs
  • Assessing current in-house skills to determine future skills and roles needed
  • Identifying talented employees within the company to groom for promotion

So, talent acquisition has a view of both external and internal talent. And they have the most comprehensive view of the two groups to compare.

When we shared talent-development insights in Chapter 3, you heard urgency in how the development leaders think about developing internal talent. And that urgency only increases for talent-acquisition teams. The talent-acquisition survey participants define top challenges as competition for top talent and a shortage of qualified talent. Both perspectives illustrate the rapid pace of change and the choices companies are making in order to deliver on it.

As we mentioned with talent development, it takes time to teach employees new skills and, in a competitive marketplace with product rushes and aggressive deadlines, it’s not always a viable solution to retrain an entire function of a business or invest in an internal candidate.

That’s why the top reason for selecting external candidates rather than internal ones is the need for a new skill or expertise (65%). And it just makes you wonder, was the skill truly missing within the company or was the skill just not promoted as part of an internal brand? Sometimes, there’s no question that a new skill or expertise is being added. But there are many times that skills were just not recognized. And here’s how we know.

When we asked talent acquisition what most people can’t do well in an interview, they say it’s the ability to illustrate accomplishments.

“Some of the best candidates we interview in terms of relative experience, education, and skill set are not always the best at being able to tell their story. And this can be a real impediment when you’re trying to convince me to hire you! The one skill that I recommend candidates develop to help them land a job or launch a career is to become an exceptional storyteller. Specifically, a teller of your own story.”

We couldn’t ask for a better proof point for the importance of a career story! Your accomplishments and experiences are like a doorjamb for a job position. They are what will get you the first-round interview, but no matter how much of a rock star your resume says you are, the way you communicate your accomplishments and tell your story is what gets you to the next round.

And if you agree with the trends and insights that we’re sharing, then disruption will continue whether you put it into play or your company does. You’re going to be a candidate multiple times. You’ll go through more interviews – and meet more talent-acquisition people – than you ever thought you would.

And that’s why we hope our latest book, Disrupted!, will help you understand the current career landscape and prepare to shift your disruption to a reset opportunity.  Your first step is to order a copy and see how we solve for the talent insights we’ve shared over the last two weeks. Or better yet, join in the conversation by signing up for April’s book club and LinkedIn conversation about the resets ahead and how to succeed in all of them.

Call us when you need us.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 here.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 3 here.

Disrupted: Chapter 3 – “Corporate Disruption – Insights from Talent Development”

Hear more about the Talent Development Perspective on our podcast!Click here to order Disrupted!

Read Chapter 1 – Disrupted!

Read Chapter 19 – Corporate Priorities – Insights from Talent Acquisition

In our world of communication coaching, we talk to a lot of talent development and talent management leaders. One conversation with a new client was particularly revealing. We were designing a coaching program for some of the company’s future leaders, and she shared the difficulty of finding and retaining top talent for the company.

“I know that when I onboard a great resource, I only have them for about two years. While it’d be great to build out a series of development steps for a young leader, it doesn’t make sense when I know half of them won’t be here by the end of it. So, my perspective has shifted to, ‘what will you contribute while you’re here and what can I do to make you more effective for the company?’”

That’s a real dilemma for a talent leader and you can see from her quote that, even with the best of intentions, she can’t make a development plan work for everybody. Talent strategies have pivoted from a concentrated, long-term strategy of developing leaders over time, to addressing business needs and standing up new leaders quickly.

We’ve seen the shift and heard the dilemma anecdotally. But as we began thinking through disruption, we wanted to quantify the corporate perspective more formally. Through a comprehensive survey and follow-up interviews with nearly three hundred talent development and talent acquisition leaders, we found our assumptions matched their insights (see Appendix for full results).

Talent leaders are being stretched to anticipate skills, not just solve for gaps. And company priorities and strategies are shifting at a rate that’s hard to stay ahead of. In fact, 47% of our survey respondents said that one of their biggest challenges is that their company’s current talent capabilities do not align with the company’s future needs. That’s a pretty sizable gap! It means that talent teams are looking at either retraining or rehiring nearly half of their workforce. And even with the best of intentions, retraining half a workforce just isn’t feasible as a long-term strategy. It’s expensive, it slows down a company’s operations, and, perhaps most importantly in today’s market, it takes too much time.

So, if talent is at such a premium in companies, then where are talent leaders investing their time, energy, and funds? Well, they’re investing in two places with very different approaches: first-level managers and emerging leaders (seasoned directors/VPs and above).

Skilled front-line managers are needed to help an organization achieve its goals. Whether you’re in sales, marketing, engineering, finance, operations, etc., the first-line manager has a lot of visibility to both employees and customers, and they need to have a specific set of skills to manage the expectations of the brand and of the consumer. Training and support for this group is primarily focused on “hard skills” and whatever technical or specialist skill sets are needed to drive the immediate projects and strategies of a business. While there’s a lot of churn at this level of an organization, it still remains a priority for talent teams, so much so that this group was rated the highest training priority across our survey.

The second priority for talent teams are their emerging leaders (Senior Director/VP and up). Interestingly, this group requires the complete opposite training approach. Instead of delivering outcomes of a brand for a customer, future leaders become the expectations of the brand. And often, that means a lot more visibility in high-stakes environments. So, training for this group is focused on “soft skills” and whatever communication and leadership traits a talent team can help a rising leader develop quickly.

And as you’ve probably noticed, there are a lot of roles that this approach leaves out. If you don’t fall into one of those two camps, you’re not alone. And if your own development goals fall outside the scope of what the business needs, there’s a good chance you won’t wind up on a talent team’s radar.

Here’s why:

82% of talent development priorities are based on company goals, identified skill gaps for specific tasks, and job roles and functions. And only 8% of talent development programs, initiatives, and events are based on employee feedback and development interests. Talent development leaders told us that employees ask for leadership development, communication, and technical skill development through internal surveys and performance reviews. Yet those desires aren’t always in line with their companies’ priorities and development investments.

So, you can see how many employees fall between the cracks by missing training within their function area or not fitting the profile of the talent strategy in a given year. In addition, talent development leaders say that employees have unrealistic expectations and some blind spots about career advancement. These insights summed up our hypothesis, which is that in today’s corporate environment, you need to take ownership for your own development and career advancement.

And when you take ownership, you’ll find that resets can be opportunities if you know how to interview and illustrate your experiences well.

Next week, we’ll share the insights from talent acquisition leaders who clearly define what the interview is all about and why most people miss the mark.
More to come…


Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 here.