How to Motivate and Boost Performance of Internal Talent Acquisition Teams

How to Motivate and Boost Performance of Internal Talent Acquisition Teams

By Jerry Damron, President DCSI



Jerry Damron

As an executive recruiter with decades of experience partnering with companies all around the world, I work with my clients’ internal talent acquisition teams and internal recruiters.  Some experiences have led to very long-term relationships and partnerships, but more have been short lived relationships as these people tend to turn over in 2-4 years, on average.  This article is targeted directly at those corporate executives that are interested in boosting internal performance of their recruiting teams and simultaneously extending the average tenure and job satisfaction of these critical employees.

Your talent acquisition team, or internal recruiters, are almost always the first point of contact for new potential employees. This ranges from indirect labor to direct labor, individual contributors to management, directors and vice president level professionals.  Your company’s first impression starts with the very first point of contact with these individuals on your team.  As a result of how critical it is to make a positive and lasting first impression, it is absolutely in your best interest that members of your TA and Recruiting teams have high job satisfaction and feel genuinely positive about their own employment.  Attitudes are transparent and a disgruntled employee stands out like a sore thumb. Inversely, someone that is truly energized about their position and responsibilities will resonate that energy to every prospective employee they meet.  This is invaluable and it is something that leaders of these teams can directly and positively impact.

Talent acquisition and executive recruitment is an incredibly complex and highly challenging role.  As an internal executive recruiter, you’re essentially selling and promoting in two directions; to the prospective candidate and to your own company’s hiring authorities.  This means twice the potential for problems or for things to come apart.  It is very hard work and requires a very high level of professional business acumen in order to be successful.  Often, the crux of the problem in longevity and sustained professionalism is that, in almost all cases, there is no additional incentive to closing with a new hire for these people.  Nearly every internal recruitment professional I’ve worked with throughout my career is only compensated with a basic base salary and in some cases, a company bonus.  Therefore, despite the complexity and difficulty of identifying and closing an offer with a new hire candidate, there is no incentive to do so.  Inversely there are very few repercussions if an offer falls apart.

In my professional opinion, not offering some kind of bonus or commission, to every member of your recruitment team as a monetary reward for successfully closing a new hire with an offer of employment, is simply a slow and predictable path towards high turn-over within that group.  One of the main reasons I continue to remain in a decades long career of executive recruitment is that it pays well.  It needs to!  This is an amazingly difficult career path but while it does offer the reward of knowing that you’ve helped a company grow stronger by hiring the right professional; knowing that you have really helped someone advance their career, that alone would not be enough to make it worth it.   In many instances I’ve experienced internal recruiters with unmanageable levels of open requisitions and hiring executives, each, purporting that their openings are the most critical and requesting the full search efforts from the internal talent acquisition team.  With little more than a pat on the back or possibly a thank you from the hiring authority, there’s only so long people on your team are going to continue to be motivated on nothing but a base salary alone.

Most clients we’ve partnered with are very concerned with keeping external outsourcing cost to search firms like ours, as low as possible.  One way to do this is to offer incentives to their internal recruiters by way of tiered bonuses or commissions for permanent hires they are responsible for.  This could include a one-time payment after the new hire starts and could also include an additional bonus once that new hire hits 1 or 2 years of employment.  By offering this type of monetary incentive you will instill a pride of ownership to your recruiting team.  It will better motivate them to search harder and to raise their standards for who they choose to bring forward because they would then have potential financial rewards at stake.

While this professional advice might seem to be counter to my interests, being a co-owner of an outside global executive search firm, it is not.  Few people can truly appreciate the degree of difficulty associated with this type of work.  No matter how effective a company’s internal recruitment effort is, there will always be a need for outside search firms to partner on critical, time sensitive and also confidential searches.  It is always in my clients’ best interest to have a professional, happy, motivated and financially vested recruiting member involved with the responsibility of managing that first impression to potential new hire candidates.

Quite simply, offering financial rewards to your internal recruitment professionals will increase the level of talent they attract, increase the positive experience of everyone they interact with, and therefore improve those executives’ first impressions.  Internal executive recruiters and talent acquisition professionals will be motivated to improve their performance knowing that there’s a strong financial incentive to do so, and that in turn will extend their tenure.



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