Talent Acquisition: The Primary Benefactor of the “Big 3”



When we talk about leadership, culture, and engagement – the “Big 3” – we often refer to existing team members… those who already contribute to the success of our organizations. And that makes sense; we certainly want current employees to feel valued and to contribute to a positive, productive company culture.

However, the Big 3 also has a major impact on another critical aspect of our long-term success: recruiting.

A Brief History of Recruiting

In the old days – or, rather, in the “old school” days – we’d post an ad in the Sunday newspaper and wait for the mail to arrive or the fax machine to ring; this was how we knew a job seeker had applied.

Then along came the internet – and with it, monstrous job boards, career building job boards, local job boards, professional association job boards and niche job boards. Indeed, all the applicant had to do was click the ‘Apply Now’ button and good things happened.

Human resources… stopped being human.

With that creative destruction, however, came a series of unfortunate side effects…

Human resources departments, drowning in the volume of applications and sensing the desperation of the job seekers, began hiding behind ATS processes (virtually) and huge CRT monitors on their desks (literally). They stopped answering the phone. They failed to return voice mails and emails.

Human resources… stopped being human.

They stopped caring. They stopped leading. They stopped engaging. Human Resources, via a terrible (but widely accepted as “just the way it is now”) candidate experience, became the very opposite of a catalyst for a positive, productive company culture.

Then Along Came Social Media

Fueled by frustration and smelling a rat, candidates became unwilling to accept carefully-crafted messages from a potential employer about what a great company they were to work for. So – in Twitter chats, Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups and Q&A sites – they started asking a really good question:

“What is it really like to work for ABC Company?”

And they got lots of answers. Good answers. Yes, filtering of the trolls-feeding-on-sour-grapes (as well as those a bit too excited about the company) became necessary. However, the end result was considered far more reliable than company sound bites and regurgitated recruiting copy.

After all, who is a job seeker more likely to believe? Those, who have already shown they don’t care? Or those “objective” souls on Glassdoor, Quora and LinkedIn?

Social media enables alternative opinions; it amplifies dissenting voices.

The Worst Kind of Hypocrisy


That is how many candidates perceive a company who talks a good game, but their reality seems much different.

Take a real-world organization that – on their beautifully-written ‘About Us’ and ‘Careers’ pages – talks about how much they care about team members, what an innovative, open company culture their employees enjoy and how their founders are considered collaborative innovators who have been recognized by their industry for… blah, blah, blah.

And then – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Groups and job seeker dedicated forums – quite the opposite seem true. The founders, while Steve-Jobs-brilliant, are thought of as ill-tempered autocrats who expect every employee to work well into the evenings and weekends without compensation; the direction of the company seems to change every time the VCs visit; and, those nap pods, for months, have been used more for storage than power sleep.

Social media enables alternative opinions; it amplifies dissenting voices. As a result, candidates are more informed. They know better. The foosball and ping pong tables in the break area fool no one.

The Best Kind of Employer

Of course, smart organizations like Whole Foods, TOMS, Taco Bell and Northrup Grumman have embraced this new reality. They deliberately, actively listen. Based on the social criticism, they act to improve. They admit their mistakes and failures. Both online and in the office, they are accountable.

They deliberately, actively listen.

It is these companies that a new candidate perceives as authentic. They’ve shown leadership. They demonstrated a willingness to engage. Their organizational culture is continuously improving.

In other words: after digital due diligence is performed, both the active and passive job seeker says:

“This is the kind of company I want to work for!”

The result is simple: top talent migrates toward these companies (and away from the old-school orgs afraid to listen and too bureaucratic to change). Recruiting becomes largely a matter of mining employee referrals. Hiring becomes less about messaging, advertising and compliance – and more about picking from the best available talent for each open position.

And talent acquisition – without a doubt – becomes the primary benefactor of motivating leadership, mutually-beneficial engagement and an open, caring culture.

How is the “Big 3” helping (or hurting) your ability to attract world-class team members? What would have to change so leadership, engagement, and culture became a competitive advantage for your recruiting teams and hiring managers? Let’s discuss…

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!



Image credit- alvinge / 123RF Stock Photo


Mark Babbitt is a speaker, author and blogger who serves as CEO and Founder of YouTern, a social community for college students, recent graduates and young professionals that Mashable calls a "Top 5 Online Community for Starting Your Career." He is also President of Switch and Shift and CMO and co-founder of ForwardHeroes.org. Mark is the father of five and a grandfather; he and the woman who tolerates him (barely) call Seattle, Washington home.

  • Brilliant, Mark. I’m really proud to be co-authoring a book with you.

    Folks, this is barely a hint of some of the work we’re putting into “A World Gone Social.” I can’t wait to share it with you!!

  • Honored to be onboard, Ted… these are important conversations!

  • Carl D’Agostino

    we certainly want current employees to feel valued and to contribute to a positive, productive company culture.

    Smart style but in 33 years Miami Dade high school teacher(Florida), administrators think their job is to keep everyone on edge, in fear and attempts to bring improvement from the bottom up are slammed as being disloyal, trouble making

  • daveh@techgorillas.com

    very true. well said

  • Hello Mark,

    Thank you for sharing your insight, we may need to add a #4, i.e., Job Talent, to your 3 items.

    Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employee lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent ??

    Employers do a… ?
    A. great job of hiring competent employees. ?
    B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture. ?
    C. poor job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job. ?

    Employers have three choices when hiring or promoting employees.
    Choice 1. Hire/promote competent applicants (or train them to become competent).
    Choice 2. Hire/promote competent applicants (or train them to become competent) who fit the culture.

    Choice 3. Hire/promote competent applicants (or train them to become competent) who fit the culture and who have the talent for job success.

    All three choices give us competent employees. ??

    Choice 2 gives us competent employees who are not misfits in the culture. ??

    Choice 3 gives us competent employees who are not misfits in the culture and who have the talent for job success. ??

    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.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. 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.

    1. How do we define talent?
    2. How do we measure talent?
    3. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most people 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.

  • footer-logo

    There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

  • Connect

    email: connect@switch&shift.com
    1133 Ferreto Parkway
    Dayton, NV 89403

    Terms & Conditions  |  Privacy Policy

    Newsletter Subscription

    Do you like our posts? If so, you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receiveThe Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!
  • Contact Us

    Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.