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The tortoise or the hare?

There’s an old story about a race between a tortoise and a hare. The hare is super speedy, but he becomes complacent, while the tortoise, slow and steady, eventually wins their race.

Is your recruiting organization the tortoise or the hare? Are you ready to win the race for talent?

As a talent acquisition industry consultant and analyst, I work with clients daily on their recruiting technology and process initiatives. They often engage Talent Function because they’re optimizing an existing recruiting system or about to engage in a new system implementation. Sometimes they need help overseeing an entire project; other times they’re seeking recommendations from a recruitment process and technology audit. Most clients align with either the tortoise or the hare.

First, let’s take a look at the “tortoise” organization. Through my experience in consulting with TA organizations over the last six years, I’m shocked that so many are still playing by the 2003 rule book when it comes to their recruiting processes and technology solutions. With each new client engagement, I’m often scratching my head and wondering, “Why are you still doing X and not Y?” Tortoise organizations have a long way to go to win the race. Although they’re very slow to change, they know they’re in a race for talent and they want to win. Tortoise organizations typically have some of the following deficiencies:

Role of Recruiter

  • Inappropriate requisition load (too many or too diverse to be effective)
  • Poor role definition between recruiter, coordinator and hiring manager roles
  • Dependency on post-and-pray approach to sourcing


  • Out-of-date or poorly configured technology solutions
  • No candidate relationship management solution to engage in proactive recruitment marketing efforts
  • Career website and apply process is not mobile optimized
  • Lack of integrations between recruiting systems and/or HRIS

Forecasting & Planning

  • Lack of forecasting, and therefore strategy, to meet talent demands
  • Lack of metrics to identify recruiting bottlenecks and/or display TA effectiveness

Candidate Experience

  • Lack of strategy and focus on the candidate experience
  • Career website does not have compelling or target-rich content
  • Apply process is too long and tedious

Sound like your organization? If so, you’d better hurry up because you’re already losing the race for talent. The best of the best talent expect better, from the point at which they visit your career website, all the way through their customized apply and onboarding experience.

Many of you may be thinking but I’m not a huge company, I don’t have the budget or resources to address all of this. However, transforming many of the areas listed above doesn’t cost a lot of money or require significant resources – just a commitment to identifying and fixing what’s broken. I would argue that a lack of commitment to moving the needle forward is costing your organization a lot of money every single day.

“Hare” organizations, on the other hand, have already addressed many of the items listed above. Hares typically don’t sit idle; they:

  • understand that there is room for improvement
  • continually seek new ways to optimize or replace old legacy systems and processes
  • continually work to optimize current recruiting technologies
  • are much faster to move on new technology innovations and solutions (i.e. CRM/recruitment marketing, digital interviewing, mobile and/or onboarding and integrations between systems
  • are typically aware of and making headway on role realignment and/or process inefficiencies
  • have candidate experience initiatives currently under development or on their immediate radar
  • recognize that they must become strategic and methodical in marketing through the development of compelling content and leveraging social media channels and recruitment marketing solutions
  • have more budget and resources for getting initiatives knocked out faster

Still, hares should be careful not to become overconfident and/or complacent. You’re lucky in that you’re ahead of the curve, but the curve is always moving. Stay the course and push the boundaries. You know you can win the race, but there are a lot of tortoise organizations out there that may beat you next year – or the year after.

If yours is a tortoise organization, identify where the finish line is and make the appropriate moves to beat competitors. Identify and leverage your organization’s strengths and unique qualities. Work to incorporate new improvements to your recruiting processes, technologies and candidate experience.

Not sure where to start? Schedule a focus group with your recruiters and hiring managers. Send out surveys to candidates (both those who were successful through the hiring process and those that were not). Make small improvements so you can move the needle forward.

You don’t have to be the fastest or spend the most money. In fact, taking a slow and steady (and strategic) approach can ultimately win the race.