In a landmark book Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty, Peter Cappelli was applying lean supply chain management concepts to people in order to enable companies to build adaptability within their staffing strategy. Since then, several books from Lean Human Resources: Redesigning HR Processes for a Culture of Continuous Improvement by Cheryl Jekiel to more recently, Lean HR, Introducing Process Excellence to Your Practice, by Dwayne Lay have advocated lean approaches.
Sometimes, however, exporting concepts from a vertical to another can be disconcerting to the non-specialist, which can explain why the very notion of "lean" has been somewhat mocked. Yet, it's not necessary to know everything about lean to leverage some of its valuable principles. For me, one of the most important notions of talent acquisition is waste elimination, i.e. "any activity that does not result in moving the process closer to the final output or adding value to the final output." This (identifying and eliminating “muda” or wastefulness) is one of the 3 central concepts of Lean management (along with identifying and streamlining “mura” – unevenness – and “muri” – excessiveness.
In the talent acquisition process, the drop-out rate of candidates who come to your website is astounding. Sometimes, this rate can reach up to 90% of the candidates that you have been able to attract via your job posts or your social media efforts. They come to your website but either do not find the information they are looking for or are reluctant to fill the myriad of forms that you request to ever be considered by the company.
Clean up your process and welcome candidates at the various touch-points with your company (career site, job boards, public social networks, etc…)!
Make sure that you move from a process designed for the candidate to respond to a job requisition or job requirement, to a process where your company can be responsive to an inquiry or expression of interest. In other words, allow candidates to join your talent network. It's easy and this will save you a considerable amount of money.
This involves a subtle shift in approach – from a one-sided, non-collaborative one to an engagement approach where you attract talent, build an active online community and then send them to the ATS when they are qualified.
The biggest benefit of this lean approach to talent acquisition is that it provides an optimal candidate experience. With the proliferation of social media, employers can take advantage of the social tools available today to build out this optimized recruiting workflow: an engagement platform, i.e. an employer-branded space where candidates and recruiters can meet and interact — and where constituencies can operate comfortably each on their own terms.