Talent Acquisition IS Project Management


In the past month, I have been given the amazing opportunity to become the Talent Acquisition Analyst Intern for Riviera Advisors. During my short time with the company, I have been immersed in the world of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition. My greatest eye-opening experience was at the SHRM 2014 conference, which was provided to me by Jeremy Eskenazi SPHR CMC, Managing Principal of Riviera Advisors.

Jeremy Eskenazi held presentations at the SHRM annual conference in Orlando and shared knowledge on talent acquisition. An insightful presentation offered was on Project Management and Recruiting, which detailed the definition of Project Management and how it intertwines with recruiting.

Someone may ask, what did you learn about Project Management? Project Management is the effort that one puts into achieving a goal with a set deadline. This does not include projects with non-existent deadlines!

In short, here’s what I learned about Project Management:

1. Has a unique purpose
2. Is temporary
3. Involves uncertainty
4. Requires resources (often from various areas)
5. Should have a primary business sponsor or customer

So what makes Project Management so great for talent acquisition? It can be used for hiring new people! Incorporating Project Management with recruiting is a skill that can help anyone learn to acquire the best talent. Hiring can be performed with specific objectives and deadlines in mind. But prior to taking on this process, recruiters must be aware of the fundamentals of Project Management. Jeremy noted the four basic elements of project management (as defined by the Project Management Institute) which include:

1. Scope
2. Time
3. Costs
4. Resources

The first basic element, scope, is the focal point of a project that must clearly be defined and completed within a given period of time. In addition, it includes the size and goals of the intended project. In essence, the scope plays a vital role in solidifying boundaries and deadlines for project managers to fulfill. In addition, project managers must also be fluid to the changes of the scope (objective) provided.

What causes the scope to change? Jeremy speaks on what is called “scope creep” or the accumulation of small alterations that snowball into multiple changes. In order to be a successful project manager, one must always come up with a strategy to complete the goal of the intended project.
Time is also another crucial element to project management that many people overlook. Oftentimes, individuals have open-ended assignments with no end in sight. This is not Project Management! The intended project must always have a set time frame in which goals are met. This also includes the duration of tasks as well dependencies and critical paths.

Once the scope and due-dates are sorted out, the project manager must ask for resources and take note of the costs for completing the objective. These costs include the financial resources and contingencies that must be detailed prior to starting a project. And finally, a project manager will need outside resources to get the project done. If he or she tries to do everything in-house then this will result in project failure!

Jeremy noted that once a Project Manager gets the basics down, then he or she must display a sense of urgency to all of the team members involved. This is accomplished by looking at three main focuses including:

1. Time
2. Budget
3. Quality

Recruiting is Project Management
During Jeremy’s presentation, I learned that Recruiting itself is Project Management! It can be used to address a large hiring campaign or help fill an individual requisition. In order for the recruiter to become a successful project manager, he or she must strategize a plan to obtain potential hires. This strategy must be reported back to the sponsors (hiring managers) for approval. Once the sponsors clear the strategy, the recruiter is given an allotted period of time to successfully fulfill the scope of acquiring top talent. To ensure that the objective is met, the recruiter must utilize resources (which incur costs) that are provided by the sponsors. Generally, the hiring manager (sponsor) will pay attention to the time and budget of the project. It is also good to clearly define this budget with your hiring manager.

So how does a recruiter collaborate with the hiring manager to meet specific goals and objectives? Jeremy mentioned that the recruiter is not a customer service representative. The recruiter is a consultant that must be prepared to provide solid solutions for sourcing. This means that as a recruiter, you must not ask your hiring managers the “how-to’s” of developing a talent pipeline. Rather, the recruiter must consult the hiring manager with suggestions on how to properly meet the goal.

It is best for the recruiter to become educated on the logistics of the position. This means that the recruiter must be well-versed on the desired positions, research potential candidates and impress the hiring manager with a stack of resumes.

How to Succeed
To succeed at Project management, one must set and manage the expectations given to them by stakeholders. In doing so, deliverables of a project must be clear and evolve gradually. Jeremy provided a 4-step approach to ensure project success:

1. Receive clear approvals and sign-off by sponsors
2. Correlate through analysis of need for deliverables
3. Project managers must be assertive in their role
4. Projects typically must be sold, and resold

In addition, it is imperative that job descriptions must be absolutely clear. Most job descriptions talk about what a candidate should have, but not about they do. It should be the opposite for the recruiter who is trying to successfully acquire quality candidates.

And finally, Jeremy noted that once candidates are hired and go through the onboarding process then you are no longer in control.

Other Takeaways
As a side note, I learned that recruiting has always been social. Yes, it is great to use Social Media for your talent pipelines, but having a Facebook or LinkedIn account alone is not going to get a candidate interested. At the end of the day, they are not going to care about how well hash-tags are used on newsfeeds. Candidates are going to appreciate the ability to communicate socially during the recruiting process.

Through my experience at SHRM 2014 and attending Jeremy’s presentations, I have learned that there are much better topics that must be addressed. All too often, I read articles about the trendy HR topics. While many focus on the buzzwords like “millennials” and “going mobile”, Jeremy Eskenazi focused on engaging and reaching out to potential candidates. So instead on riding the wave of trendy HR topics, it is wise to consider new avenues that will help bring talent acquisition forward.

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