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Ep 493: The Growing Value Of TA Operations


Talent Acquisition is continuing to grow in complexity. Technology is becoming more disruptive, recruiting methodologies are getting more sophisticated, and data and analytics are becoming more important. It’s not surprising then that the skillset of TA teams is diversifying, and the role of TA Operations is becoming more developed. So how can TA leaders demonstrate the value of TA Ops, and how can it inform hiring strategies

My guest this week is Mark Jenkins, Talent Acquisition Operations Manager at Product Madness. Mark’s role involves improving recruiting and hiring efficiency through process improvements, streamlined funnels, and digital transformation. He has lots of insights and advice to share about the growing value of TA Ops.

In the interview, we discuss:

• The bottom line impact of TA Ops

• Improving retention and diversity

• Unlocking the full potential of recruiting technology

• Automation and the importance of process reinvention

• How to drive value via continuous improvement

• Calculating the ROI of TA Ops

• Storytelling with data

• The role TA Ops can play in shaping hiring strategies

• The future of TA Ops

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.

0 (0s):
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0 (48s):
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2 (1m 26s):
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0 (1m 40s):
Hi there This is Matt Alder Welcome to Episode 493 of the Recruiting Future Podcast Talent Acquisition is continuing to grow in complexity. Technology is becoming more disruptive, recruiting methodologies are getting more sophisticated, and data and analytics are becoming more important. It’s not surprising then that the skillset of TA teams is diversifying and the role of TA Operations is becoming more developed. So, how can TA leaders demonstrate the value of TA Ops and how can it inform hiring strategies?

0 (2m 21s):
My guest this week is Mark Jenkins, Talent Acquisition Operations Manager at Product Madness. Mark’s role involves improving Recruiting and hiring efficiency through process improvements, streamlined funnels, and digital transformation. He has lots of insights and advice to share about the growing value of TA Ops. Hi Mark, and welcome to the podcast.

3 (2m 46s):
Hey Matt, nice to be here. How are you?

0 (2m 48s):
I’m very well, thank you. It’s An. absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Please, Could you introduce yourself and tell everyone what you do.

3 (2m 56s):
Yeah, of course. Hi everyone. I’m Mark Jenkins, outside of work, huge football fan inside of work. I, I would say eight plus years experience as a TA professional. During that time, I’ve, I’ve worked up both on agency as well as in-house since joining Product Madness in August. This is my first TA role where I haven’t led a team and where I’ve not been accountable or held accountable for hiring. So I’m working as a TA Ops manager at Product Madness. And for those who are unfamiliar with us, we’re one of the world’s largest mobile game studios with a global presence. And today a top leader in social casino mobile games.

0 (3m 36s):
Now, some people listening will be familiar with talent Ops or, or even, you know, even work in that kind of operation side, but lots of people it won’t be. Tell us a bit more about what you actually do and how you work with the rest of the, the talent and Recruiting team.

3 (3m 54s):
Yeah, of course. So I would say TA, Ops and efficiency that were made. You know, we aren’t just around or about filling open positions faster. A TA person in, in my case it’s an individual contributor role or a function in, in some organizations can have a major impact on organizations. Bottom line, I would say a couple of those examples would be either better retention and in improved diversity. An example around the, the better retention side. So a smooth and efficient recruitment onboarding process can lead to increased candidate satisfaction, which can then translate into, you know, better retention rates. And then when we put that into our TA’s perspective and our TA teams, it means fewer open, you know, the backfield replacement positions to fill.

3 (4m 39s):
And then from an ROI perspective, it would mean a lower cost for higher over time from, from the improved diversity side, you know, by streamlining the recruitment processes, using data analytics to inform your decisions, we can then work to eliminate unconscious bias, improve diversity within our organization. And then this can lead to more diverse inclusive team, which as we all know has a, a positive impact on creativity and innovation. Back to your question on how I then work with the rest of the team, well, we’re always looking for continuous improvements in recruitment and, and hiring efficiencies that may be through process improvements, streamline the funnels, digital transformation.

3 (5m 22s):
And I can’t solely do that alone. So it’s always working with a TA director, the TA leads, TA partners, but it could be the, the wider, you know, PNC people and culture business or HR VPs and anyone else that’s part of that impact by that process. What we then do is work in kind of like working groups, if you like, in order to try and solve that challenge that that is causing an issue. And potentially that could then also mean, you know, whether it’s short time to feel or cost improve candidate experience. I say the main part, again, another main part of the TA Ops person’s role is desiloing data and information.

3 (6m 3s):
So it’s all in one central place. We found that that’s then leading to improved communication among with hiring managers because we’ve now all got a standardization approach. We’ve defined our terminology and metrics and, and between the TA and broader business, it’s Unlocking that full potential, therefore seeing full r ROI of all recruitment tools and technologies.

0 (6m 25s):
Fantastic stuff. And I, I wanna kind of dive into bits and pieces of that as we sort of move through the conversation. Before we do though, I just wanted to ask you a very specific question about technology and automation. One of the things that we’ve seen in the last two years, three years particularly I suppose in the last, in the last 12 months, is more and more organizations trying to automate their TA process, bringing technology into to do that. How important is the role that you do for organizations that are trying to automate talent acquisition or aspects of talent acquisition?

3 (7m 3s):
Yeah, I would say there’s, there’s many benefits to, to automation and we all are aware of it. So we’re, we’re aware that it can help minimize, you know, times and costs or so to recruitment processes by automating, you know, repetitive tasks, you know, scheduled interviews or send out recruitment marketing comms to your, your talent pipelines that we’ve all built. I, I would say that automation also allows us to have that more data driven dishes and making, which can then help to identify potentially most suitable candidates by analyzing their, their qualification skills experience or, or even more from like the efficiency side. And it can also then help to improve overall counter experience by providing them with, you know, relevant timely information throughout process.

3 (7m 48s):
We know we can definitely save time and resources for recruiters, allows them to focus on more strategic aspects of Recruiting, but I would also add the automation alone without reviewing your internal processes, we’ll likely to end badly. We all know that, you know, if you hope that that new shiny bit of tech will resolve your problems by adding automation, you, you’re just gonna get bad things done much faster than what you did before. And that’s where I would say my role more comes in to look at the, the current processes that you’ve got in place to then work with wider business partners to then look at solutions and and recommended processes.

0 (8m 27s):
Digging into that process improvement bit, you gave us a kind of an overview of the kind of work that you do there. Just to dive into that a bit deeper, tell us more about how you drive value through process improvement. You know, what are the steps, what have you, what have you done? What results have you seen?

3 (8m 45s):
Yeah, so more, more recent example at Product Madness we looked at a, a particular process which was leave a backfill. So when a, an employee unfortunately decide to resign and leave our organization all the way through to looking at backfilling that incumbent person. So that whole process together was to get everyone involved who has touchpoints throughout that process and get ’em in that working group. What’s really important is mapping out the current process, not your ideal process, but map out the current one that’s taking place. So for every activity that happens, eg the employee resigns, what then happens next is obviously there’s a conversation with the hiring manager and potentially with TA partner or a member of HR to say, well, are we gonna backfill this person?

3 (9m 35s):
I like for like, so same location, same career grade, salary, et cetera. Cause that’s what you’ve budgeted. Do we need a different skillset? So a higher career level grade or a more junior person, is it in the same country, et cetera. So what you do is you map out every single one of those interactions that you have. Again, whether it’s an email, whether it’s a Slack message, et cetera. What we then do is identify what’s a value added task. So something that that process absolutely needs in order for it to, to, to go through correctly. But then also you start to identify the non-value-added tasks that have been do that have been taken place. What we then also do is look at time waiting between activity because we all know that, you know, we’re on Zoom calls or at bau, et cetera.

3 (10m 22s):
So you don’t always get an immediate response. Once you’ve mapped out that full process, you then step back and take a look and look at the end-to-end process. You calculate all the, the waiting times that are done for every single activity as I mentioned. And then what you’re then doing by doing that is when you’re creating a new process afterwards, you can then measure success against each other. So what we identified that in one particular location for this process, it was taking 27 working days to go from end to end, which was with too long basically. So now what we’ve done is when we’ve created this new process by looking at the value added tasks, only reducing some of the waiting times, it’s now only five days, five working days.

3 (11m 5s):
So we saved the business 22 working days there. What we’ve then been able to do is then work out the savings of all the employees involved in that particular task and then put it into a monetary value so that we can then every time that we do this process, we can then demonstrate how much we’ve saved and, and what we’ve done for is the average cost of employee. So, you know, revenue divided by employees is, is that average there that we’ve used and then worked out by all the working times that we’ve done is, is work out the cost saving that we’ve done per employee involved in that, in that process.

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3 (13m 20s):
And I suppose that brings me nicely onto my next question about data and analytics and you know, some of the things you do, you mentioned that you know it’s part of your role too, get all the data in one place and make, make sense of it. Tell us a bit more about that. Tell us about what exactly what data you think is kind of most useful for TA teams in 2023. Yeah, of course. So those people that do know me, know me as a bit of a data geek, so I love doing the research on industry benchmarks, whether that’s known the, the offer acceptance rate for example in tech is 70% versus non-tech is 86% or the number of reaches that you have to do to candidates to get your offer accept. So if it’s inbound it’s normally around 87.

3 (14m 1s):
If it’s outbound it’s like around three. Those particular stats that I’ve used just then is from a report that were produced by Believe it was in July last year. Other kind of reports that I look at, you know, workable got a pulse report that they bring out and again, it’s more updated cuz it’s done I believe every month. So I’m always looking at reports like that and then from that, using that information, that data it then helps tell a story. So where are we as an organization performing versus industry benchmarks and then sharing that internally with TA team, but wider business as well. Now if we’re not hitting one of those industry benchmarks, there’s a a report that I like which is the, the pass through rate report.

3 (14m 43s):
And what that essentially does is measures the number of candidates applications that are pass through each of the recruitment stages that we’ve got. But also you can dive down a little bit deeper is not only, you know, where are people getting dispositioned or rejected at what stage, how long have they spent at that particular time? And I find that a really powerful piece of information cuz what I can then do is it’ll help me identify and draw my attention to specific opportunities to which to optimize our TA funnel.

0 (15m 12s):
How do you, I suppose, bring that out to really kind of help shape the hiring strategy of the business? Is that something that you think is the role of TA Ops?

3 (15m 25s):
Yeah, definitely. And I think there’s analytic tools that are out there that can help you do this. So at PM we use one called by horse flyer. So essentially what you can do is in a couple of minutes you can, it provides you with a snapshot basically like the talent market for the job and skill you are searching for. You can then compare that salary, the supply versus demand for any, the set of skills, gender experience level or job title. And then what the TA function can then do is now they’ve got this information is one, they become more credible but also more consultative function because they’re now providing solutions to what might been a challenge for a stakeholder that might want a software engineer in the uk for example, you can use this tool to identify, like I mentioned, the supply and demand in another country or another location that your organization works in.

3 (16m 20s):
And then really provide those kind of insights to say, look, if you want this person with that skillset, you can do, but it is gonna be very challenging in the uk. Whereas if you go to elsewhere in Europe, you’ll be able to identify that there’s, there’s more supplier, so there’s more candidates than what there is demand for that particular skillset. And then you can just shift your focus on, you know, where to start sourcing what skills you need to do for from that aspect as well.

0 (16m 46s):
So it’s obviously January, 2023. Very interesting if that’s the right word. Time for talent acquisition, global economies, all these kind of things. Lots of very confusing, confusing narratives and messages a around from your perspective, what do you think the biggest challenges are gonna be for talent acquisition this

3 (17m 7s):
Year? I would say it can definitely vary if you know, number of factors as you’ve mentioned, you know, what tech available impact, potential global changes or you know, even the evolving expectations of a workforce. What I’d love to see is more TA functions, having a, a TA Ops person or team involved within their all structure. Just because some of the stuff that we’ve discovered today and and had a conversation around today, you can really bring in an ROI from that perspective. I, I would say that we know that technology will continue to advance. It’s likely that TA teams will increasingly turn to automation, AI tools to help streamline, improve processes, you know, Recruiting, onboarding, performance management, whatever it may be.

3 (17m 55s):
But I think that can then also raise the question of, well how do we keep the human touch and personalization in recruitment?

0 (18m 1s):
Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, personalization’s kind of is almost my favorite topic basically in terms of how we get that kind of balance right between humans and machines and all those kinda things. I, I suppose it’s a final question. How, how do you think that’s gonna pan out in the future? What does the, and what does the future of your role look like?

3 (18m 19s):
I would really love, like, as I mentioned and love more TA functions to, to incorporate a TA Ops person just because of the being in the position previously you, you understand like the bandwidth and, and then when you’re trying to look at those continuous improvements all the time, it’s not always easy to do so cause you’re more focused on, you know, the number of hires that you need to do by which time, et cetera, because then you are creating that, you know, the, the cost of the empty chair argument of, well you’re now costing a business rather than providing a resource for it by not Recruiting us in the right time. So my, my one, my one ask would be, yeah, definitely do a business case for, for those who haven’t to get a TA Ops involved, surprised number of efficiencies or ROI definitely provide.

0 (19m 7s):
Mark, thank you very much for talking to me.

3 (19m 9s):
Matt’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

0 (19m 12s):
My thanks to Mark. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcasts on Spotify or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at Recruiting Future dot com on that site. You can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Recruiting Future Feast and get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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