What is talent operations?
In the simplest terms, talent operation empowers the entire talent org with the use of innovative and modern, tech or non-tech enabled tools, solutions, and processes to track recruiting metrics, identify areas of improvement, forecast future talent needs, and ensures the talent org to function more effectively and efficiently.
A quick search on LinkedIn for Talent Operations or Recruitment Operations throws back 72,000+ open positions for which companies are actively hiring globally.
Talent ops has existed for a long time under some guise or the other. However, the undercurrent is a wave now, and it's time we collectively define the roles and responsibilities that make the talent ops or recruitment ops function in an organisation.
Key responsibilities of Talent Acquisition Operations
Talent ops has become more structured very recently. Consequently, the understanding of the function is vastly different in organisations across the board. However, some fundamentals remain consistent and imperative to the function. We've listed out the fundamental pillars of talent ops for you:
1. Stakeholder management
Talent ops sit within the talent team but cuts horizontally. It interfaces with every team in the company. A large chunk of the day-to-day in the life of a talent ops professional goes into working with multiple teams to set the recruitment stack up, get the legal contracts with vendors going, project talent needs with multiple teams and leaders, and schedule interviews for every new candidate.
The function is crucial to keep the lights on for the entire talent team. From ensuring a flawless candidate experience on one hand and building data transparency for the entire company and the leadership, the role is challenging and vivid at the same time.
2. Setting up the scalable processes
Usually, the need for talent ops surfaces only after the company scales to a certain size. In a smaller team, the talent function is just getting by, using ad-hoc setups and hacked-together collaborative tools. However, regardless of the size of your team, everything from sourcing, engaging, scheduling interviews, and rolling out offers needs to be optimised for efficiency and scale. That's mostly the first challenge any talent ops person needs to tackle.
Once they set the processes right, they need to document it as well for further training of the recruitment org at large. They also need to make sure that they consistently iterate and improve on the processes laid down.
3. Custodian of the recruitment tech stack
HRtech has blown up in the past few years. The recruitment stack is growing rapidly and someone needs to be the central command for the stack. The recruitment stack comprises the sourcing tools, a recruitment automation platform for outbound recruitment of passive candidates, the ATS, and the HRMS. Beyond candidate onboarding, the tools for employee engagement and performance management come in as well. However, in larger organisations, the HR ops team takes care of tools and stages beyond the candidate onboarding.
The recruitment ops function has to also be responsible for finding the next best tool to add to the tech stack with the end goal of increasing the recruiter yield.
4. The single source of recruitment metrics
The talent ops team knows all the data that flows in and out of the recruitment stack. Hence, they become the single source of truth for all metrics needed to track, measure, and predict the talent pipeline. Consequently, the talent ops team is trusted to empower leaders and teams by providing high-quality and timely reporting, analyses, and actionable insights on the talent acquisition funnel.
The talent ops team is expected to design, develop and automate self-service dashboards to ensure our business leadership has easy access to the right information when monitoring organisational health and making talent decisions.
The key challenges of talent ops
The job of a talent operations professional isn't simple. They have a host of things to do, which involves strategic decision making as well as execution, while most roles only require one particular skill.
- Reducing employee attrition: The chief focus of talent ops is to built the org's team size and talent acquisition targets, so keeping track of employee retention becomes secondary which affects the org at a later point. There must be a keen eye on retaining top employees, offering skill development to underperforming employees, building the culture of the org, and more.
- Syncing with other team verticals: Periodic alignment with the finance team, internal teams, and upper management is crucial to developing talent ops. This can help them understand the nuances of what their org needs, and work towards those goals. Professionals must make sure to schedule monthly check-ins to stay updated of everything and make tweaks to their talent ops accordingly.
- Staying updated on the latest tech stack: There are a host of tools available in the market. Talent ops professionals must stay updated on the best tools in the market, understand the various price points of each, study the features that each tool offers, and learn how to make effective decisions. This is a key challenge as it can have an incredible impact on their daily lives.
So what does it take to be a talent ops specialist?
The talent ops role is still very broad. With one end tilting towards people and stakeholder management and the other end lopsided on the data and metrics skill.
The requirements hence swing from one extreme to another, depending on the unique need of the company. Most data-heavy talent ops roles, the requirement is of someone with an experience with SQL, and other analytics tools, data visualisation tools such as Tableau, and Google Data Studio, and data pipeline tools like Airflow.
However, the balance is tilting. With continued innovation in recruitment tools, even non-tech folks can get the insights that were exclusive for the tech-savvy recruiters.
How tech is transforming talent ops
With the emergence of AI and tech, every industry is reevaluating the way they function, and the roles human beings play in ops. The same goes with talent ops. Here are three ways tech is transforming talent ops:
Ease of understanding data and analytics
The period of manually entering details onto a spreadsheet on a weekly/monthly basis, and getting together to review and understand the metrics is long gone now. Today, an efficient tech tool can help you access all the data relating to talent ops on one dashboard, and draw inferences within minutes.
With Kula's recruitment automation platform, you get all the vital stats for your automated outbound email drips for passive candidates, with a full view of the talent funnel. It ensures predictability and transparency through ready-made dashboards and easy-access reports. Click here to book a demo.
For those teams that rely on outbound recruiting as their TA strategy, with tech, talent ops professionals can easily monitor how many employees every recruiter has reached out to, the challenges they're facing, and more, with tech tools that offer visibility into outreach performance.
Better time management
By automating tedious processes like tracking teams' performance, analysing metrics, and more, talent ops professionals have a better grasp on their work day. This means that they have more time to focus on the challenges like building employee culture, establishing good rapport with internal teams, alloting time to employe branding, and more.
When to invest in talent ops?
It’s not a question of if you’ll need talent ops, but when. As your company matures — as it grows in size and you expand faster in headcount — the need for someone to focus on keeping the engine running by owning the recruitment stack sanity and stakeholder management.
Based on the size and maturity of the talent org in your company, the talent ops function can exist in one of the following forms:
Talent ops as a concept
At the earliest stages, when the hiring is primarily done by the founders with a small TA team of 1 or 2 folks, you wouldn't need to hire someone dedicated to talent ops, but you need to find patterns in the way the talent team operates and formalise processes and repeatable frameworks for efficient operations. You can work with manually updating spreadsheets for reporting or start with the readymade dashboards of the tools in your hiring stack.
Talent ops specialist as a full-time hire
The next stage is a full-time hire for talent ops. The role can be divided equally between stakeholder management, and talent stack ownership. It can also tilt towards either side, depending on the culture and requirement of the talent org. This is the stage where the company starts growing with predictable talent requirements and forecasts.
Talent ops as a team
This is the optimum setup for the SMBs and Mid-market strata of companies. The talent ops team at this stage comprises specialists in recruitment tech stack, analytics, and stakeholder management.
Talent ops as a function
A full-blown talent ops function sits right in either public listed companies, or companies with a comparable headcount. The talent ops function still sits under the HR or people org, however, is a team of specialists and experts in operations, data science, and program management.
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Here’s to thoughtful recruiting.