Recruiting Enablement Blog



Talent Talks – Talent Acquisition Advice from Industry Leaders

Charles Hipps August 26, 2020

Over the summer Oleeo has supported the Forum for In House Recruitment Managers (FIRM) with a new podcast series “Talent Talks”. In this blog, we summarise some of the best advice offered by the industry practitioners for persevering in these uncertain times.

Jane Upton, Talent Acquisition Lead, NatWest – listen to the full chat:

When the crisis hit we immediately did a thorough vacancy review and looked into remote assessments, making sure we were able to do them online and virtually as well as being sure to make provisions for contingent workforces. We are constantly looking at how we can do great onboarding and offer valuable experiences for grads and interns too.

Our plan spans three phases: We started with Respond – Make sure we have a robust plan to deal with all needs arising. Now, we are moving into Recover – where we can start to pick back up postponed projects and eventually we want to get to stage 3 which is Thrive – drive continuous improvements when circumstances allow.

My advice is to be mindful when planning. Be agile, acknowledge the situation and embed a brilliant team attitude. Things will be hard overall and some industries will feel it more than others. Look at how you can add value in other ways broader than traditional HR. Hang on in there – stay positive and look at transferrable skills.

Rebecca Cohen, Global Talent Acquisition Programs & Operations, Thales – listen to the full chat:

It is important that we take this time to look at how we improve quality of processes and the impact that has on the outputs of the business. Be able to adjust to uncertain times, run with it and explore possibilities. Coronavirus has torn up the rule book and all plans – you need to hold true to your business principles as the difficulties ebb and flow and be bold and brave.

Mobility has never been more important. To drive loyalty, you have to build a culture of developing and moving forwards. Focus on ways that gives staff great candidate experiences and takes the business forward too. Making sure employees feel supported and have a route ahead of them will pay dividends – give them greater visibility and an understanding of business areas with growth potential without forcing the matter. That will also help with building a culture of encouragement rather than protectiveness so that it is OK to approach staff internally. Also, look at offering learning and development (L&D) in a way that encourages employees to explore this themselves and can also aid the business to identify skills shortages and surpluses.

Overall we need to be smarter about our networks in talent acquisition - without connectivity, talent acquisition cannot succeed and risks being the poor relation of the HR space. Be more open & collaborative to deliver business results. Reflect, be flexible and be adaptable – it is a really scary marketplace at the moment until we come back through the other side. The opportunity is rife to test new things outside of typical comfort zones.

Lisa Scales, Head of Talent Acquisition (UK & Ireland), Nestlé (formerly at Severn Trent) – listen to the full chat:

My advice is do not give up on direct sourcing and look to transformation. Now is a good time to reflect and get yourself a plan of what you need to know.

Dipesh Parmar, Associate Workforce Director – Resourcing, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust – listen to the full chat:

COVID gives us opportunities – normally we are very process & protocol driven but now we can rip up the manual and start again. We have redesigned and restructured departments, invested more in technology and worked to strengthen our resourcing skills to meet demand.

The intensity of COVID means we have to be monitoring resourcing constantly to deliver resource availability at all times – so we have had to shift the team working hours to 7 days a week and increase hours from 9-5 to 7 – 8. I need to be able to report on and be accountable for the resourcing team efforts at a time when requests for staff have been frenetic. Parts of the trust have been overwhelmed by shortages and team members themselves were getting sick.

It has been an interesting experience and the exposure really embodies the never give up philosophy. It has really shown how innovation is key for allowing employers to be outside the norm in saturated markets like the NHS. I hope that innovation can help us tap into the advocacy the NHS currently has to attract and hire new staff, particularly in areas where we have gaps to fill like niche roles. It is up to us now to build pipelines of candidates and create career stories - especially amongst the young. Automation and personalisation will be key to breaking perceptions and barriers. The NHS can rise and it is time to change the model and truly focus on great talent.

Craig Morgans, Global Head of TA, IWG plc – listen to the full chat:

Now is the time for change, creativity and innovation. The moment is right to focus on ensuring all tools and selection processes are reviewed, fit for purpose, and are supported by a global branding vision to keep things moving forwards despite the gloom. So much of our time will be dedicated to adapting to what COVID allows – aligning workforce plans to timeframes as they become available – thus it is vital to get ahead of the changes and be able to respond moving forwards within reason.

Be brave – look to innovation and digital opportunities to identify high potential faster. Look at assessments - especially for when we do get back to senses of normality. There is a race to embrace automation and gain efficiencies but you must maintain authenticity with some elements of human relationships, advocacy and loyalty. Articulate your employer value propositions well and pivot quickly to new expectations such as increased demands for working from home. There will have to be a median in flexibility and use of offices. Lots of shift and adapt – especially because there will be lots of competition for candidates coming up as the norm. It is important that you empower yourselves and ensure you can stand out.

Jon Hull, Head of Resourcing Delivery, Nationwide – listen to the full chat:

Resourcing is an emotionally charged industry to begin with but it is perhaps more the case now than ever. Use of technology, clever use of processes, thinking of programmes at scale rather than individual is key – think out of the box to be more creative at solving problems, especially when resource poor. Think about problems that are real rather than invent them.

Agility and flexibility supported by use of technology will all need to prove return on investment. Therefore, it is important that you get involved and help to shape projects where you can – strike the balance between efficiency gains and maintaining high levels of candidate experience. Quality will also be vital. Ensure your assessments can identify this with the right criteria as it is critical to the success of the organisation at all levels, we cannot afford to upset customers due to lack of resource at any point.

Importantly, we need to ensure recruiting becomes more human. More and more, candidates and absolutely hiring managers do need the human touch – so ensure there is added value of having tech as an aide and not a replacement. Strike the right balance. Have a good commercial understanding of your business to ensure resourcing is valued and focus on great, including being able to tell stories with data to make cases and exert influence. This will energise our industry.

Melanie Punch Head of UK Careers, Investec – listen to the full chat:

Demonstrate the value of what an in house recruitment team can do and the different ways of doing this – including the importance of diversity. Being able to build really good deep human skills is vital to identify the best fits - ensure transparency at all times.

We have seen a significant drop in the number of external roles posted but have really focused on internal talent – making the best on where we have capacity & development opportunities elsewhere in the business. Enabling movement and encouraging positivity has been a real morale booster. Great to see appetite from within the business to do this. Remote working has been interesting, lots of relationship building has been notable.

We are also thinking about how we make sure that we fulfil diversity in our intakes and in our development opportunities – in the right ways and not just positive discrimination. We have done lots of organisational development focus around helping upskill our teams to embrace mobility and open doors. Better experiences – for candidates and hiring managers alike – needs a good strategy behind it to truly understand what is being sought. It is important to really get under the skin and make sure the environment feels right for all. Automate where needed but push the human side too.

Jennifer Herbert Head of People, Oleeo – listen to the full podcast at

It is an interesting time. I have an optimistic view that the industry has a massive opportunity to really make a difference and be set up for the future. It is an opportune time to reflect and plan on what we can do better and make positive strides forwards as strategic decision makers in these uncertain times where things can seem very different to normal. Reflection helps with internal mobility as well as the external elements of working with talented people caught in uncertain circumstances.

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