Recruitment
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Guide to talent acquisition strategy for organizations of all sizes

Determining a successful talent acquisition strategy requires a thorough assessment of an organization’s market environment, individual requirements, and goals.
Talent Acquisition Solutions for Companies of All Sizes
Article author
Written by
Felicjan Rybka
Published on
September 27, 2023
Last updated on
March 26, 2024

No matter what economic cycle we are in, one constant remains: any organization’s success depends on its employees. Talent acquisition, which aims to build a comprehensive, forward-thinking, goal-oriented, and verifiable workforce strategy, is a cornerstone for building strong teams capable of competing in any market.

A recent survey by Deloitte showed that nearly 90% of technology industry leaders name recruiting and retaining talent a challenge for their organizations. In an era where the battle for top talent rages on, the ability to attract, assess, and onboard the right candidate can make the difference between thriving and merely surviving.

From in-house recruiting through the Contract-to-Hire model to intricate Build-Operate-Transfer projects, talent acquisition strategy development and implementation requires a thorough assessment of an organization’s market environment, individual requirements, and goals. This article will help you select the most suitable ways to acquire or develop talent for your business.

Talent acquisition vs. recruitment

Comparing talent acquisition and recruitment is easier to understand than presenting a dry definition of talent acquisition.

Talent acquisition is a broad, strategic approach that consists of building research-based, goal-oriented roadmaps, recruiting employees, onboarding them, and re-evaluating the process. While recruitment is the act of following the recruiting process to fill vacancies, talent acquisition is an ongoing process that encompasses all activities related to workforce planning. Simply put, there are more steps in talent acquisition workflow than in recruitment process.

It extends far beyond posting on job boards, sourcing talent, and conducting job interviews. Talent acquisition is a practice that significantly impacts an organization’s competitiveness, innovativeness, and growth. In today’s highly competitive job market, choosing an appropriate talent acquisition process can result in securing top talent instead of struggling to fill open positions.

Wondering how to work in talent acquisition? Check out our current open positions.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to talent acquisition

Many talent acquisition models exist, each with its best scenarios, benefits, and drawbacks. Not one model is adequate for every organization out there. What works wonders for a multinational corporation might be entirely inappropriate for a startup that wants to optimize recruitment by trying something new.

Talent acquisition models are structured frameworks that organizations use to guide their approach to the recruiting process. These models represent various methods of sourcing talent and approaching high-quality candidates. Think of them as blueprints that help organizations systematically address their hiring needs.

By adopting a talent acquisition model, organizations can streamline their recruiting efforts, improve the availability of highly qualified candidates, reduce cost per hire, improve employee retention, and ultimately, positively impact the organization’s bottom line.

Talent acquisition strategies should be like a compass, helping organizations navigate the complexities of job markets in a structured and purposeful manner. Instead of employing a one-size-fits-all approach to talent acquisition, the models described below enable organizations to tailor their hiring efforts to align with their organizational needs, industry landscape, company size, and other unique circumstances. For example, an enterprise can adopt a specific approach to talent acquisition for digital transformation needs, such as complexities of hiring for IT positions increasing in demand.

Five top talent acquisition models

Every talent acquisition model has its own set of advantages and possible setbacks. When aligned with the organization’s requirements and successfully implemented, all these models will ultimately bring a similar outcome. Still, each journey is bound to be completely different.

Contract-to-Hire (CtH)

This model involves your recruitment partner hiring candidates on a temporary basis to convert them into your organization’s full-time employees after a predetermined period. This approach is favored by companies that want to evaluate a candidate’s fit before making a hiring decision.

Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT)

BOT projects are usually partnerships, where an external talent acquisition strategist and their team build an entire team from the ground, anywhere on the planet. The partner company is responsible for operating the team for as long as it’s needed to transfer the full ownership to the client securely. This model is commonly used by startups seeking affordable niche expertise and by established companies when expanding into new markets.

Center of Excellence (CoE)

In this talent acquisition method, a specialized talent acquisition partner is responsible for creating a dedicated onshore, nearshore, or offshore team of experts focused on specific functions. Large enterprises often establish CoEs in their secondary locations. Setting smart goals for talent acquisition manager is crucial to standardize and optimize processes in such locations.

Staffing

Staffing agencies specialize in recruiting candidates for organizations directly. Such vendors perform the same function an in-house recruitment team would and usually focus on sourcing talent, participating in the interview process, and bringing potential candidates to meet the client’s hiring managers. This model is favored by companies with fluctuating workforce needs who want to tap into external expertise and basically acquire recruitment teams to fill excess empty positions.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

RPO involves outsourcing some or all recruiting activities to a third-party provider. It’s a comprehensive solution where a dedicated external talent team becomes responsible for a whole recruiting process, including recruitment marketing, sourcing strategies, interview handling, and sometimes even conducting the onboarding process. RPO is a popular choice for global organizations seeking to enhance efficiency and scalability in their talent acquisition life cycles.

Contract-to-Hire explained in detail

Assessing candidates' fit to work is easier with the C2H approach.

Contract-to-Hire, often called C2H or CtH, is a recruitment model that bridges the gap between temporary employment and permanent hiring. In CtH, candidates are initially hired on a contractual basis with the possibility of permanent employment after a specified evaluation period.

It’s essentially a “try before you buy” approach to talent acquisition that allows organizations to assess new employees in terms of skills, company culture fitness, and overall performance before making a long-term commitment.

When to choose the CtH model?

Contract-to-hire offers flexibility, risk mitigation, and quick results. The approach brings the best results for organizations that must rapidly build teams, assess potential candidates thoroughly, and maintain a degree of flexibility in their workforce. For many employers in dynamic environments, Contract-to-Hire can be one of the most valuable recruitment tools in their talent acquisition arsenal.

The model works best for:

1. Companies in the growth phase

Contract-to-hire is a practical talent acquisition strategy framework for growing organizations looking to quickly build teams and assess candidates before making new hires. Allowing companies to rapidly scale up without the immediate commitment of permanent employment, CtH becomes especially valuable for organizations where agility and cost-consciousness are critical.

2. Project-based job openings

Organizations that experience fluctuations in workload or want to fill project-based open positions can use CtH to bring in contractors to fulfill the project’s demands, evaluate their performance over the course of the project, and then hire the best candidates.

3. Organizations in demand of specialized skill sets

When an organization requires candidates to have niche skills but is uncertain about the long-term need for those skills, Contract-to-Hire can be a strategic choice. The company gains access to needed skills immediately, but it can use the temporary period to evaluate if such expertise is worth the permanent commitment.

Top advantages of Contract-to-Hire

  • Risk Mitigation: Employers can evaluate candidates’ performance before making a permanent hiring decision. If some candidates do not meet expectations, the contract can be terminated without the complexities of permanent employment termination.
  • Fast hiring process: Contract-to-Hire often results in a quick onboarding process. This can be particularly beneficial for companies that need to scale their teams rapidly to meet their organizational needs and business demands.
  • Cost savings: CtH is often more cost-effective than hiring talent directly, as organizations don’t have to provide the same benefits and meet the same legal requirements to contractors.
  • Flexibility: Employers also gain the flexibility to adjust their workforce size based on current project demands. This is especially useful for companies with fluctuating workloads.

Possible disadvantages of Contract-to-Hire

  • Top candidates may be hesitant to accept contracts when seeking permanent employment.
  • Contractors often lack the loyalty and commitment the organization may anticipate from existing employees.
  • Managing contract workers may result in administrative overhead related to contracts, payroll, and benefits. However, partnering with best-in-class talent acquisition professionals is a foolproof remedy for that weakness.
Want to learn more? Read our thorough guide on Contract-to-Hire.

Build-Operate-Transfer explained in detail

Clear communication is crucial to succeed in Build-Operate-Transfer model.

The Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) is a strategic approach to talent acquisition that involves partnering with an external vendor that establishes and operates an entirely new team, often in an unexplored geographic location and for an innovative project. BOT partnership ends with the new team’s ownership being transferred to the client organization after a predetermined time.

BOT arrangements are typically used when an enterprise wishes to leverage a specialized talent pool in another country with the support of an external talent acquisition team experienced in navigating local regulations and job market particularities.

When to choose the BOT model?

Utilizing the Build-Operate-Transfer model in your talent acquisition strategy opens up a secure pathway to expand into new markets, harness global expertise, and maintain control over operations. BOT balances the benefits external partners bring with the long-term goal of having critical expertise in-house, making it particularly appealing to organizations in the growth and expansion phases.

The model works best for:

1. Organizations expanding into new markets

Growing enterprises looking to expand into new regions can vastly benefit from investing in a BOT project. By leveraging the expertise of a local partner, such an organization can easily navigate the complexities of law and customs at a new location, establish an employer brand presence, and assess market viability before transitioning the new team in-house.

2. Specialized projects that demand niche expertise

Some projects and initiatives require companies to secure access to niche skills, which can be incredibly challenging in competitive, highly-developed markets like the USA and European Union. Build-Operate-Transfer allows hiring managers to access an untapped talent pool in a remote location without the need to set up local operations by themselves.

3. Setting up offshoring operations

For organizations considering establishing offshore development centers or research facilities, BOT becomes a viable way of quickly achieving an effective talent acquisition process in a foreign country. Experienced partners can utilize local knowledge to quickly complete required formalities and adjust the client’s recruiting process and HR strategy to access the best talent.

Benefits of Build-Operate-Transfer

  • Rapid market entry: BOT allows all organizations to enter new markets exceptionally fast. By partnering with an external talent acquisition team, even Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can effortlessly tap into a global talent pool.
  • Risk mitigation: Companies can leverage the Build phase of their BOT project to assess the viability of a new location before committing substantial resources. Compared to a full market entry and launching an in-house team by yourself, risks and costs are significantly lower with BOT.
  • Access to niche expertise: Build-Operate-Transfer is often utilized to access highly qualified candidates with particular interests and skill sets. For enterprises looking to gain a competitive edge or develop new capabilities, finding the ideal candidate abroad may be much easier than competing for the best candidates domestically.

Possible drawbacks of Build-Operate-Transfer

  • Complexity: A BOT contract can be fairly complex and involve lots of legal work beforehand. Both parties’ roles and responsibilities must be precisely formulated, and the transition timeline should be an integral part of the agreement.
  • Dependency: Organizations concerned about possible overreliance on external partners must ensure they retain sufficient control over critical operations and intellectual property throughout the whole project.
  • Challenging integration: Incorporating a remote team into the organization can be challenging from both cultural and operational perspectives. Working closely with a local partner is advisable, as the client company needs to learn as much as possible about their new location before the transfer occurs.
Want to know more? Read our article about the BOT model in IT projects.

Center of Excellence explained in detail

External talent acquisition specialists can support organizations in building Centers of Excellence.

When building talent acquisition strategies, business leaders should consider creating a Center of Excellence. Such centers usually function as centralized internal units that specialize in development, research, support, or training for a focus area.

CoE’s primary goal is to streamline and optimize organizational efforts, ensuring quality, consistency, and efficiency.

When to utilize CoE?

The Center of Excellence model is an ideal choice for large enterprises seeking to centralize their operations in new locations. CoEs facilitate standardization, efficiency, and expertise-focused development. While utilizing the CoE approach in talent acquisition may be challenging, the benefits to the Human Resources department and the hiring process as a whole are immense.

The model works best for:

1. Large enterprises

A global organization operating across various regions can use CoE to streamline future resource planning, improve cross-department consistency, and enhance collaboration efficiency. This is particularly valuable when multiple divisions must work together.

2. Standardization and compliance projects

Organizations in industries characterized by strict regulations or compliance requirements utilize CoEs to ensure that internal practices and processes align with all relevant standards.

3. Strategic talent acquisition

When an organization views talent acquisition as a strategic imperative, establishing a recruiting CoE is a viable concept. Such a Center of Excellence can work on talent acquisition strategies to effectively attract talent, create suitable employer branding, fill critical roles, and nurture candidates by using customized applicant tracking systems and candidate relationship management software.

Benefits of establishing a Center of Excellence

  • Standardization: Standardized processes ensure that all teams follow the global strategy and work towards shared objectives.
  • Expertise: CoEs are focused on staying up-to-date with industry trends, allowing you to leverage the latest innovations and best practices.
  • Efficiency: Centralizing operations eliminates redundancy and promotes efficiency, leading to better turnaround time and reduced costs in the long term.
  • Consistency: CoEs help maintain a consistent employer brand and candidate experience, which is critical for attracting top talent.

Common challenges with a Center of Excellence

  • Resistance to change: Previously decentralized business units may not understand the reasoning behind building a CoE and resist such a transformation. Change management can be challenging if you don’t have the right senior executives in place.
  • Lack of local context: In a global organization, a CoE may lack an understanding of all locations, which is crucial for filling open positions across all regions.
  • High initial cost: Establishing a Center of Excellence can be expensive, particularly regarding additional recruiting needs, technology investments, and training requirements.
Sounds interesting? Discover more content like that in the business category.

Staffing explained in detail

When talent acquisition focuses on direct hiring, consider working with staffing agency.

Focusing on staffing in a talent acquisition strategy involves partnering with external partners to create an effective talent pipeline capable of continually providing an organization with temporary and permanent employees. Staffing agencies maintain their pools of qualified candidates, making it easier for organizations to quickly find new employees who meet the requirements.

Staffing is a hiring process particularly suitable for organizations that require flexibility because of their irregular workforce needs.

When should a talent acquisition strategy center on staffing?

The staffing talent acquisition model is most suitable for organizations with inconsistent recruiting needs. Staffing provides flexibility, rapid access to job seekers, and reduced burden for a hiring manager and other team members. Whether your company requires temporary workers to help with time-sensitive projects or ongoing support from a dedicated talent acquisition team, partnering with a staffing agency can help find, interview, and recruit the best candidates in a timely manner.

The model works best for:

1. Companies with irregular recruitment needs

Organizations with seasonal hiring demand changes or lots of project-based work can work with staffing agencies to quickly scale their workforce up or down as needed.

2. Specialized projects

For projects that require niche skills not available in-house, staffing agencies can provide access to active candidates with the required expertise.

3. New initiatives

When launching new business initiatives, staffing can be used to assemble new teams faster than any internal recruitment team could.

4. Cost-effective scaling

Bringing in temporary staff during busy periods is easier when partnering with a staffing company that is cultivating relationships with candidates interested in contractual work.

Pros of utilizing staffing in talent acquisition

  • Recruitment speed: Staffing agencies have more talent specialists and better access to the talent pool, which allows them to fill vacancies in a timely manner.
  • Flexibility: Hiring temporary staff for a season or finding a niche technology expert for a short-term project is easier for dedicated talent specialists supported by the latest recruiting software.
  • Reduced burden for senior leadership: When the staffing agency takes on the responsibility for finding you suitable new hires, your hiring managers can focus on their everyday work and only interview the preselected best candidates.
  • Industry expertise: The finest staffing agencies employ specialized recruiters who understand the industries or roles they work with, improving the quality of candidates hiring managers meet.

Known cons of staffing

  • Considerable cost: Using staffing services means paying fees. These costs can add up when hiring many candidates but should always be smaller than the cost of maintaining in-house talent acquisition teams.
  • Limited control: When working with a staffing firm to find temporary employees, you must set precise expectations, as in most cases, such workers are employed by the staffing agency and not your organization.
  • Retention issues: Temporary staff lacks the level of commitment and loyalty you’ve come to expect from permanent employees, which leads to higher turnover.
Want to learn more? Browse our talent acquisition articles for tips on recruitment and retention.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing explained in detail

RPO encompasses whole recruiting process from job descriptions to onboarding.

RPO is a talent acquisition strategy in which an organization entrusts some or all of its talent acquisition processes to a partner. The RPO provider acts as an extension of the client’s HR department and recruitment team, managing all aspects of recruiting new employees, including creating an appealing job description, sourcing, screening, pre-selection process, interviewing, and new hire onboarding.

RPO solutions are usually tailored to the client’s unique staffing needs.

When should a company utilize RPO?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing is a versatile recruitment model that offers efficiency, scalability, and expertise to organizations of all sizes. It works as a comprehensive talent acquisition department without the complexities of managing such an extensive in-house team. RPO is particularly valuable when a company has high-volume recruitment needs, for example, during a period of expansion.

The model works best for:

1. Organizations seeking optimization

RPO is well-suited for organizations of all sizes looking to optimize and streamline their talent acquisition process without making huge investments in building an extensive in-house recruitment team.

2. High-volume recruitment needs

Organizations with considerable recruitment needs operating in sectors such as retail, logistics, banking, healthcare, energy, and manufacturing use RPO services to enable high-volume hiring for expansions.

3. Global expansion

When going global, companies use RPO providers’ local expertise to find top talent in new locations.

4. Cost-effective growth

RPO provides scalable and cost-effective recruitment solutions for businesses in periods of growth or restructuring.

Key features of Recruitment Process Outsourcing

  • End-to-end solution: RPO providers offer a complete range of services, from sourcing candidates to presenting job offers to onboarding. Your partner’s team manages the entire recruitment process for you.
  • Scalability: RPO can be scaled up or down to accommodate fluctuating recruitment needs.
  • Dedicated teams: RPO providers typically assign dedicated talent acquisition teams to focus exclusively on one client.
  • Advanced technology: RPO often includes the use of cutting-edge recruitment software, including an applicant tracking system, analytical tools, and automated reporting. Clients can access data that allows them to make more informed decisions.

Advantages of the RPO model

  • Expertise: RPO vendors are talent acquisition specialists often willing to share their specialized knowledge and industry insights with clients. IT-focused providers have access to salary expectations, broad talent pools, and networking events attended by niche technology experts.
  • Cost savings: Outsourcing the recruitment entirely often leads to significant cost savings when compared to maintaining an in-house talent acquisition team.
  • Flexibility: RPO allows organizations to adjust their approach quickly to ensure a positive candidate experience and meet the changing demands of a specialized workforce.
  • Efficiency: RPO streamlines the talent acquisition process, often resulting in faster time-to-fill and improved candidate quality.

Drawbacks of the RPO model

  • Less control: Outsourcing talent acquisition takes away some degree of control over the hiring process. Regardless of the benefits, some companies may be uneasy in such an environment.
  • Integration issues: Successful integration of RPO within existing HR systems and company culture is somewhat complex and requires careful planning.
  • High initial investment: While most RPO projects lead to cost savings in the long run, initial investment is needed to select and onboard a suitable RPO provider.
Want to learn more? Read our complete guide to RPO.

Choosing the right talent acquisition strategy for your organization

Every business is different and has unique needs. Selecting the appropriate talent acquisition model for your organization is a critical decision that calls for a thorough assessment of your goals and requirements. To make a valid choice, you must consider the following factors:

1. Organization size

Global enterprises: Large organizations often require comprehensive and scalable recruitment solutions due to their size and complex hiring needs.

Consider RPO and CoE approaches for standardized, global processes.

SMEs: Small and medium enterprises need rapid scalability and flexibility to satisfy their changing priorities.

Consider BOT for leveraging external expertise and CtH for quick candidate assessment and results. 

Startups: Young and agile organizations can benefit from cost-effective approaches like staffing or CtH, especially when having irregular demand for new candidates.

2. Industry

Regulated industries

Industries with strict compliance and regulatory requirements, such as healthcare or finance, will enjoy control and standardization offered by CoE.

A BOT model is worth considering when setting up a subsidiary in a new location.

High-volume sectors

Industries with high-volume recruitment needs, like retail or manufacturing, will greatly benefit from the efficiency of a staffing agency and the scalability/flexibility of RPO.

To bring the core skills in-house, consider CtH and RPO.

Innovation-driven sectors

Companies driven by innovation, including those in the telecom industry, lean towards CtH, RPO, and BOT, as these approaches allow them to access specialized talent quickly.

Bootstrapped startups should consider CtH and RPO, while VC-backed startups may prefer BOT to advance fast.

3. Recruitment goals

Short-term needs

For immediate staffing needs or temporary projects, consider a Contract-to-Hire approach and working with a staffing agency.

Long-term growth

For an extended recruitment strategy, opt for RPO, CtH, or BOT to facilitate scalable and efficient operations.

Global expansion

When expanding into new markets or regions, consider CoE, CtH, RPO, or BOT for the expertise and adaptability they promise.

4. Project size

Small projects

When hiring 1-50 people, approaches like RPO, CtH, and staffing will work excellently and deliver results quickly.

Big projects

When hiring over 100 people (e.g., in case of high volume hiring for expansions), CoE and BOT are usually the best choice.

In some cases, a combination of BOT, staffing, RPO, and CtH results in a perfect mix of flexibility, stability, and sustainability.

Refine your talent acquisition process

Effective talent acquisition is the lifeblood of any organization. Whether you’re a global enterprise, a nimble SME, or a burgeoning startup, your recruitment strategy wields the power to accelerate growth or hinder progress. Selecting the right recruitment model will have a significant impact on the journey toward resiliency, stability, or growth.

Ultimately, the right recruitment model should align with your organization’s size, industry requirements, project, and recruitment goals. Evaluating these factors will help you make an informed decision regarding your talent acquisition efforts.

Global enterprises, SMEs, and startups demand different solutions. The recruitment model you choose has to align with your organizational needs. By embracing the dynamic nature of talent acquisition and being open to periodic reevaluation of your strategy, you set yourself up for success.

Partner with an expert talent acquisition team

The appropriate recruitment model will carry your organization toward your goals, but to maximize the chance of success, you will need a trusted talent acquisition partner.

Maxima Consulting has decades of experience in supporting organizations with their workforce needs. Schedule a free consultation today to leverage a comprehensive talent acquisition service and build a talent acquisition strategy tailored to your needs.

Want to know more? Browse the recruitment category in our newsroom for more in-depth talent acquisition articles.

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