Talent Acquisition Is The Only HR Function That Matters


I’m a generalist. I’m a grinder. I’m a leader. As a generalist at heart I do it all. Many of you do as well. So when I’m asked what is the most important function under the HR umbrella, I take a deep breath.

I mean, picking the most important HR function is like:

  • Saying your oldest child is the only child that matters (although I’m an oldest child, so in my case it’s true)
  • Saying the Apple iPhone is the only smartphone that matters (although it did introduce the world to a beautiful, simple interface that the entire world can use)
  • Saying Hamilton is the only Broadway show that matters. (I mean, please, West Side Story is the only musical that matters. But, right now, in this moment, Hamilton is)

Hmmm – well, after reading my list I need to rewind. As a generalist, I could never say Talent Acquisition (recruiting) is the only HR Function that matters, but I can say it could be the one that matters the most right now, in this moment.

Why? Three reasons:

  • It provides the most visible and immediate impact to an organization.
  • It is one of the biggest components to engaging team members for the long term.
  • Employees don’t need your company.

Don’t be naïve my fellow generalists. The days where your value prop was in filling out paperwork and policing policies are dead. I’ve said it in a thousand blog posts. Your value prop is connecting team members, engaging a new workforce and frankly redesigning the entire organization.

  • What starts the engagement process >> your recruiting process.
  • What ensures you are engaging the right folks for long term fit >> your recruiting process.
  • What begins employee trust building >> your recruiting process
  • What makes that most important first impression >> your recruiting process.
  • Where do you typically get the most interaction and opportunity to train your team leads >> when you teach them to recruit.

Last but not least:

  • What is ostensibly the most difficult of all the HR disciplines right now >>> recruiting. Recruiting is extremely difficult because your best folks likely aren’t in your backyard, so recruiting takes a lot of time, Understanding marketing skills outside the realm of HR is critical, and much of the process is out of your control. How many of you really are able to control the hiring manager? I mean, come on. And please, do not forget, your candidates will know if you are giving them spin.

So you’ve got the double whammy. A process that is extremely important for the sustainability of your organization coupled with being perhaps the most difficult HR discipline. Yikes.

Why should you care?

Because your CEO cares. Ok, let’s clarify. Your CEO likely gives 2 rips about your recruiting “process”. But they DO CARE about:

  • Productivity losses due to employee gaps
  • Missing financial goals
  • Bad PR
  • Their legacy
  • Sustainability

If you, recruiter (or generalist), are not able to find the right talent on time, if you are not able to understand your cultural differentiators (i.e. things important to your CEO/Customers) and hire candidates that embrace them, if you create a candidate experience that leads to poor PR, if you are not able to give a great first impression that is truthful, if you are not able to be a superb subject matter expert to hiring managers who also must do all of these things as well, then you will not be able to land the best talent. You’ll land talent. Just not the best talent.

Period. And your CEO will certainly not like that.

Need a stat? The Talentboard/ CareerXroads just released a stat regarding recruiting for jobs within colleges. 50% of the candidates surveyed stated if their recruiting experience were bad they would NEVER reapply again. 50% and NEVER are two scary words.

Recruiting is hard stuff isn’t it? Super important. Super valuable.

The other HR disciplines are certainly important. But if you don’t get the recruiting piece right, I mean really, really right, the rest of HR practices are just exercises in futility.

This post is sponsored by the recruiting pros at Jobvite, who, each month, let FOT write about a topic that will help recruiters raise their games via continuing education. Be on the lookout later this month for the new FOT video series called “No Scrubs”—also brought to you by Jobvite.com.

FOT Background Check

Dawn Burke
Dawn Burke is an HR Leader, speaker and writer, specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture.  Her HR career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, Alabama's award-winning technology company, Daxko. That’s right – the very DAXKO that our very own KD is an alum of, because there are only so many people in the big B’ham who are worthy of a VP of People title. A true Generalist, she’s done a little bit of everything, but recruiting and training is where she gets her mojo. She’s based in the good ol' blogging capitol of the south, Birmingham, Alabama, where you can frequently find her listening to the Beatles and REM, watching Breaking Bad reruns (and Snapped and Dateline), enjoying serious amounts of coffee (and cheese, but not together!), dreaming of where she will travel next, and wondering how in the world this theatre grad ever got into football or HR…Check out her blog at dawnhburke.com or talk to Dawn via emailLinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter

One Comment

  1. Hi Dawn.. Nice Article.. The one thing which recruiters can try in today’s digital world for recruitment is get the pool of talent with the use of social media like Facebook. As 85% of world population is registered on Facebook, So recruiter can post ads or run a contest to target the talent on the basis of demographics and various other options. I personally thinks it works as it is tried and tested by me.

    Thanks for sharing the article.. it helps a lot in staying updated.

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