Ask the Expert: The Future of Talent Acquisition with Amy Ihrke

December 18, 2017 Will Lyon

As technology evolves, so must company recruitment strategies. To learn more about the latest trends in talent acquisition, I sat down with one of our resident experts, who shared her insights and best practices.

Meet our expert, Amy Ihrke


As a Managing Strategy Consultant for Appirio, Amy lives in Minneapolis with her two kiddos and husband, but her heart belongs to the east coast. She loves saltwater and the Red Sox. She has worked for over a decade in the HR transformation space — both on the client side in HR, and as a strategy and implementation consultant. She’s been with Appirio for three years. And prior to Appirio, Amy was with another global systems integrator (GSI) for ten years.

Can you take us through what exactly talent acquisition is, and why it’s important for companies to focus on?

AI: Talent acquisition is the lifeblood of any organization. Without people, businesses do not exist. Acquiring talent includes everything, from sourcing, selecting, and hiring, to the much bigger concept of creating relationships. You need to look at key talent, both inside and outside, while also fostering brand ambassadors for your company.

People-centered Talent Acquisition is essential to creating standout experiences, while also presenting opportunities for your organization’s current and future talent to excel — similar to how the Virtuous Cycle demonstrates the importance of the Worker Experience.

What talent acquistion trends you seeing in today's market?

AI: One trend emerging in today’s market is the importance of alumni networks. Companies are looking for ways to leverage talent to access established networks of thought leaders and influencers. Businesses can capitalize on this alumni pipeline to build advocates, while generating new networks of talent and business opportunities.

Low employment rates, changing mindsets, and competition are creating significant gaps in talent availability and interest. Talent today has a focus on quality-of-life (versus career growth). In fact, students are shifting their focus away from traditional career models and trade positions, creating an influx of talent in some areas, and gaps in others.

What is a common misconception about talent?

AI: One misconception of talent is that there are a ton of people out there who all want to work at your business. For some companies this may be true, but it is a select few. So much of modern talent acquisition is passive sourcing.

Employers really need to brand around talent acquisition. They don’t see correlations between marketing spend and the acquisition of talent. But engaging talent requires sharing open dialogue and a compelling story with the public.

In 13 years of talent acquisition, what have you seen to be talent’s biggest challenges when undergoing a transformation?

AI: It is important to move from a transactional to a candidate-centric approach. One challenge that we’ve seen comes from how regulated the space is. There is quite a bit of regulation around fairness in the hiring process — how to discover things, and how to regiment and structure the process. There is a fine line between risk aversion and tolerance, and these approaches greatly impact the candidate experience. With an ever decreasing candidate attention span, and a global push to simplify the hiring process, organizations will naturally need to strike a balance between experience and compliance.

How do modern hiring and acquisition practices affect the agility and productivity of companies?

AI: Talent acquisition is intrinsically tied to onboarding. Recruiters are focused on setting an impressive onboarding experience for new hires, which sets the tone for a productive employment. In fact, one-third of employees of all ages knew whether they would stay at their company long-term after being on the job for one week or less. That number skyrockets to 63 percent within the first month.

Agility is a product of a positive hire. If you get the right people in the right roles (who also match your culture), you will create a fluid and agile organization. Businesses are not agile, people are.

What competitive edge do clients who have undergone talent transformation have against other talent?

AI: There’s been such a big shift in talent sourcing. Freelancing, contracting, pay-by-piece are all examples of how people have created their own destiny. Talent now holds the reins on who they want to work for. This creates a big dilemma for companies who no longer have a large talent pool to pull from. Companies that address talent acquisition are asking the important questions, like “How can we be more creative?” and “What will make us stand out to attract the best talent?”

How do you see the role of talent sourcing changing in the future?


AI: I think things are going to get simpler, not more complicated. Talent’s expectations are changing. Gone are the days of filling out long, tedious application forms.

Talent acquisition is a space that has seen quite a bit of growth and change over the past decade, mostly with niche competitors. These niche markets are trying unique talent acquisition practices.

The future of talent acquisition will focus on data-driven strategies and iterative approaches. Responsibility will not rest solely in recruiting, but on the business. Companies will be responsible for ensuring that talent acquisition strategies match the cultural and business needs. (And while retention and turnover will remain on the minds and hearts of most employers, these metrics will be less meaningful than those that show engaged, agile, and productive workers).

Read our Recipe for Worker Engagement for  more about Appirio and how we’ve made the Worker Experience (WX) part of our talent acquisition and culture.

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