Why You Need a More Agile Recruiting Approach

Talent acquisition today requires an agile recruiting approach that can anticipate and meet the changing needs of the business.

“No matter what we do, we just can’t seem to keep our heads above water for more than a moment when it comes to critical hires,” says the head of recruiting at one professional services firm. Welcome to talent acquisition in the digital age.

Business models are changing quickly, creating volatility in recruiting volume as companies’ needs change. Roles themselves are rapidly evolving, leaving even business leaders unsure who to hire today, let alone tomorrow. Human resources (HR) leaders are struggling to keep pace with shifting skill needs. At the same time, demand for talent is converging on critical roles, so when needed talent is identified, it takes longer and costs more to secure it.

Given all these challenges, recruiting organizations that fail to adapt will find it harder and harder to acquire the talent their business needs to pursue digital ambitions and critical growth initiatives.

Reinvent Talent Strategies

The digital-age mandate for HR

Download Free eBook

“If recruiting organizations want to cut hiring costs and time to fill and improve recruiter productivity — while proactively meeting the evolving needs of the business — they can’t stick to the same old service models,” says Lauren Smith, Vice President and Team Manager at Gartner. “Being responsive to the business is great, but it’s not enough. Recruiting organizations have to offer guidance to the business, and be highly attuned to the changing needs of both the business and industry.”

Read more: Gartner Top 3 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2019

To lead talent acquisition, you have to be agile

Even if your recruitment organization has become best in class at delivering a hiring service to the business, your approach likely still isn’t responsive enough. More effective is an agile recruiting operating model, characterized by:

  • Shift away from fixed planning and resourcing. Regularly source bottom-up hiring projections, and adjust service or redeploy staff as needs change. Today it’s more typical to plan and allocate recruiting resources based on point-in-time, top-down forecasts from the business.
  • Focus on talent trends, not current business needs. Organize recruiting staff to create enterprise value by specializing in hiring for certain tasks or talent segments. Don’t be tied only to the internal needs of the business.
  • Develop more sophisticated predictive talent analytics to identify what you need, where best to find it and what it will cost. Use those insights to demonstrate to the business what it needs instead of just going to the labor market with requests from the business.

Attend webinar: Make Better Business Decisions With Global Labor Market Insights

Agile recruitment improves hiring productivity

This new operating model delivers a range of improvements in hiring measures by using continuous planning, a predictive hiring process and talent-focused design.

For example, a predictive hiring process can reduce time to fill, especially for new-to-firm roles. It has been taking longer and longer to fill roles in recent years. Median time to fill was 72 days in 2018, up from 67 days in 2017 and 61 days in 2015. That’s a result of the heightened demand for talent in general, but it also reflects the specific challenge for recruiters of hiring for more specialized roles, roles with which they are unfamiliar and a mix of roles that keeps changing.

A more agile approach is especially critical if talent acquisition is going to support business strategy. Without it, recruiting teams will be unable to understand the new positions for which they are hiring, anticipate changes in supply or mitigate talent supply risks.

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients.


Gartner for HR clients can watch a webinar on recruiting for the digital enterprise.

Get Smarter

Follow #Gartner

Attend a Gartner event

Explore Gartner Conferences

How to Use Analytics to Predict Skill Needs

Proactively identify where skill gaps will emerge and what critical...

Learn More


Get actionable advice in 60 minutes from the world's most respected experts. Keep pace with the latest issues that impact business.

Start Watching