The only things certain about talent acquisition in 2023 are uncertainly and more disruption. As companies deal with these complex times, what can TA leaders do to ensure their teams give their businesses maximum value?
My first guest of 2023 is Jane Curran, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at JLL. Jane leads a large TA team firmly focused on driving value by advocating for responsible recruiting throughout the business.
In the interview, we discuss:
• The continuing challenge of standing out and finding top talent
• The market in 2023
• The need for responsible recruiting
• Building a strong relationship between TA and Finance
• Working with HR Business Partners and Hiring Managers
• How should TA prioritize recruiting
• Improving internal talent mobility
• Building flexibility in the model to ensure you have the right sized TA team
• The role of technology in 2023
• Zero waste in the ecosystem of talent
• How can TA do less with more in changing times
Seek Out (0s):
This episode is sponsored by Seek Out, the number one in talent intelligence and diversity recruiting software for enterprise companies.
Matt Alder (Intro) (28s):
Hi there. This is Matt Alder Welcome to Episode 490 of the Recruiting Future Podcast The only things certain about talent acquisition in 2023 are uncertainly and more disruption. As companies deal with these complex times, what can TA leaders do to ensure their teams give their businesses maximum value? Our first guest of 2023 is Jane Curran, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at JLL. Jane leads a large TA team firmly focused on driving value by advocating for responsible recruiting throughout the business.
Matt Alder (1m 12s):
Hi Jane and welcome to the podcast.
Jane Curran (1m 15s):
Thanks, Matt. Happy to be here.
Matt Alder (1m 17s):
An, absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Please, could you introduce yourself and tell everyone what you do?
Jane Curran (1m 23s):
Sure, Matt. Again, this is Jane Curran. I reside in Chicago and I work for JLL, also known as Jones Lang LaSalle, which is a commercial real estate firm. I lead talent acquisition globally, and JLL is a fantastic, wonderful, amazing organization to work for. I’ve been here for 21 years and have really enjoyed the ride that I’ve been on watching the company grow. The cool thing is we’ve been around for over 200 years and I feel in some ways are just getting started. We deliver real estate services to owners and occupiers and are really getting into, you know, I think purpose-driven work around sustainability and helping the future of real estate for the globe.
Matt Alder (2m 8s):
Fantastic stuff. I mean, tell us a little bit more about the scale of talent acquisition and some of the challenges that you have.
Jane Curran (2m 14s):
Sure. So our team is a little over 300 people globally. We, at the moment average over 6,000 openings across the firm, and we have full-service recruitment in-house. So that’s from early careers all the way through executive recruitment. And we have a team of sourcers, talent community managers, recruiters, coordinators, full-service. And this year I think we’ve hired over 30,000 people and the firm I should have mentioned earlier is about 105,000 strong. And some of the challenges I would say are probably no different than some other corporate TA organizations.
Jane Curran (2m 56s):
I mean, I think at times we’re all looking for the same qualified, wonderful talented people out there. It’s our job at JLL to do the best we can at fighting through the crowd in the noise. People have to figure out who JLL is. We’re not a consumer brand. So at times, we’ve gotta make sure that we make sure the word is out there to join an organization that is growing, that has opportunities for all. And you just have to, you know, certainly have an interest in real estate, but we can teach you. You can learn what we do, but it is hard right now for any organization I think, to stand out in the crowd to make sure people choose you. I think that’s a hard thing.
Jane Curran (3m 37s):
The economy recession and over-session. It’s still hard to find top-tier.
Matt Alder (3m 42s):
We’re recording this right at the very end of 2022, and it’s sort of going live now at the beginning of 2023. Obviously, it’s been a very disruptive time for, well, for everything, but for zeroing in on talent acquisition very disruptive for the industry over the last couple of years. What do you think the market is gonna be like in 2023 and what kind of pressures are TA team gonna be under?
Jane Curran (4m 11s):
I think it’s it was a very — the team had to be very resilient this year, right? I mean, you started off the year with a bang and then about mid-year, right? It really did start to turn and the economic conditions started to show that we should all start to slow down our recruiting efforts. I think in 23, as we start the year, I think the first two quarters are definitely gonna be a little bit uncertain, bumpy. I think organizations, hiring managers will maybe wait to see what the market’s gonna do before they return to potentially regular hiring levels. But I do think it depends on what part of the world you’re into.
Jane Curran (4m 56s):
Like, I don’t know how the deep the recession might be in the States is the unemployment rate’s only at 3.7%. So, whether we’re in a recession or not, I still think talent’s gonna be hard to find. I think Europe has a different story. In Asia, there’s certainly parts that are– you know, India, Philippines, we still have a lot of hiring to be doing in those locations. so I think it depends on where you live as to how difficult it is either to find talent or what the market conditions are. But we’re certainly gonna be ready and prepared for all.
Matt Alder (5m 30s):
And I suppose one of the other kind of key themes is recruiting responsibly in terms of how organizations view their approach to talent and their approach to recruiting. and I’m guessing a lot of that is based around building effective kind of stakeholder relationships across the business. Thinking about salaries and compensation and all that kind of stuff, how does the relationship between TA and finance work to really help businesses grow in a responsible way?
Jane Curran (6m 4s):
That’s a great question, Matt. I believe that talent acquisition, we want to be part of those strategic conversations. Of course, the business is gonna come to us to fill positions, but we have to be aware of the economic conditions, aware of that particular business lines growth plan or whatever cycle they’re in, we want to make sure that we’re advising them on. The proper avenues to take and I think your relationship as a talent acquisition professional with finance and compensation is truly critical to guide and direct the business. I always tell my recruiters like, you know, your job is gonna be a whole lot easier if you know who’s the finance director for the business line that you support, who’s a compensation professional that helps design those plans.
Jane Curran (6m 49s):
If, you are locked in on the strategy, recruitment becomes a lot easier because you know how to guide and maybe we should hold off on this position, maybe we should go with junior talent for this role because you know you have to go senior over here and it’s a balance of who you need to attract across the year. So I just, I really think in order for the business to hire responsibly. All three of those organizations need to be really tight recruiters, finance, and compensation, and directing the business to make the right decisions.
Matt Alder (7m 19s):
And how does that kind of relationship extend to HR business partners?
Jane Curran (7m 23s):
Well, I always say they’re the tip of the spear, right? I mean, recruiters, at the end of the day, we are out there talking to candidates – internal, external referrals, you name it. We have to be moving at the pace of the market and that does not allow us to protect, maybe sit in every meeting that a business partner would be in, but I think it wouldn’t be the right thing to do anyway. We’re not doing duplicative work. But your business partner helps keep that relationship healthy, Up to the minute information, you know, this hire’s gonna be moved to the top of the list. Can we prioritize that? So I think, your business partner is also a very, very critical component to your execution of a recruitment strategy because they should have the information that you need to do your work.
Jane Curran (8m 9s):
Now it’s a partnership, but I do think that that relationship is critical.
Matt Alder (8m 13s):
And in terms of sort of recruiting strategy itself and really kind of being responsible within the business, how do you think the TA team should be sort of prioritizing the work that they do?
Jane Curran (8m 28s):
I think that it’s really the future. So, coming out of Covid, I felt like it was like a hiring blitz, right? I mean, everybody wanted to hire, and for good reason. I mean, many, most of it made sense, but I also think looking back to that very frenzy period of 21 through half of 22, I think, well what if we would’ve had a prioritized plan? and I know that there’s workforce planning tools out there, but not every organization has a robust workforce planning. I’ve also talked to many TA Professionals that say it sounds great, but in reality it never comes true. So I think that prioritized recruiting is the future.
Jane Curran (9m 9s):
So you sit down with the business and say, “Okay, what do we need to hire?” We need, could need to hire let’s say a hundred new ads this year, but instead of doing it haphazardly, why don’t we say, “We’re gonna hire this 10 the first quarter. We’re gonna look at this organization the second quarter.” You know, attrition’s always coming through. So you always have attrition kind of as the underlying theme of what recruiters need to focus on. But what are we doing with how that work gets done?” I think if you don’t have a plan and it’s just whatever hiring manager might be the loudest it doesn’t get done in an organized fashion. And then you as recruiters, they feel overwhelmed. The workload’s unmanageable. But what if you had a tighter relationship with the hiring managers in the business line to say, “Let’s do this in a more organized fashion.
Jane Curran (9m 53s):
What needs to get done first? Okay, let’s get those done.” You know, we’ll look at this maybe every two weeks and say, “What’s the next 10 that need to get done?” And if, you have that focus and that laser focus, everything will get done. You don’t want the business to worry like, “Oh my wreck isn’t being worked on.” I don’t think that’s the point. The point is that you will get the work done in a prioritized fashion and it’ll probably get done faster because everyone’s focused on, you know, a smaller number of racks. so I do think that’s the future.
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Matt Alder (11m 9s):
Just digging into that a little bit further, because obviously in a large organization, I’m sure you got lots of competing priorities and things like that. How do you prioritize? What are the kind of the methods or the questions, or the way that you to use to prioritize what really is important for the business?
Jane Curran (11m 28s):
I think you start with, you know, criticality and very often we’re looking at revenue generating versus potentially not revenue generating. So I think that’s a lever certainly is what roles are going to get out there to meet the client’s needs but also generate revenue for the firm. I think we’re also looking at growth areas, right? So what’s potentially revenue generating and a high growth area for us to deliver on? and I think it’s, you know, ultimately helping the business understand, where’s the biggest impact? Where will these roles have the biggest impact? What are some nice to have or really looking at internal talent too to say, “Well wait a second, if so and so recently left the organization, could we split that job up?”
Jane Curran (12m 11s):
Right? Instead of just rushing to the market and hiring, again, we’re trying to get creative there too and say before you just rush to refill a position, could you prioritize internal talent for new opportunity as well? You’ll try to do things differently. I think so often it’s just post-run go and we wanna be more thoughtful with what work gets worked on, at what rate? And also have we really looked at internal talent and looked at the job differently? You know, maybe you don’t have to replace the same.
Matt Alder (12m 43s):
I suppose one of the almost the strangest or the craziest things that we’ve seen in the last couple of years is coming out of the pandemic, there was this global shortage of TA talent. You know, no one could hire enough recruiters. Salaries were going through the roof. There was such huge demand for people to join and recruit for businesses. And then in the sort of second half of 22 where we’re now seeing with kind of recessions around the global potential recessions. Companies now laying recruiters off again almost as if they’ve learnt nothing from the last time. How do you keep a TA team the right size so you can sort of flex up and down depending on those market conditions?
Jane Curran (13m 28s):
I think what we’re looking to try to do is, we’re not immune to any of those things, right? That’s the boom bus cycle. I think you have to remember that talent acquisition always moves at the speed of the market, not at the speed of HR, right? So, if things are happening, we’re usually first to get impacted or have to make some changes. So I think what we’re learning is more flexibility in the model. So we’re looking at potentially interns, right? So help grow our pipeline for our own profession because I think that was during Covid, you’re like, “Wait a second, where’s all this talent?” So if we have a better handle on a pipeline for ourselves, right? This is what we do for the business, why don’t we try to do that for ourselves?
Jane Curran (14m 10s):
And the interns to me can be more flexible, right? So at times, they might stick around to be a permanent employee or they might just stick around for the summer or while they’re in school. So I think we’re looking at, you know, interns contract labor to rise and build when we need to and then flex down when maybe we reach levels in which our, we’re not hiring as much as we as we were before. So, I like that model. We’re also looking, we’ve got a really cool program called Skills Bridge in the United States, which is for transitioning veterans. I believe the recruiting skill certainly can be learned if you have the interest in it.
Jane Curran (14m 50s):
So we’re also looking at that. So we’ve got, we’ve had, and we’ll continue to have a few transitioning vets that were not recruiters in the military but have an aptitude or interest in the profession. And we wanna continue to get those folks in our pipeline as well. So, I think it’s just keeping a rich pipeline. Some people are interested in gig work, right? We’re open to gig work too. So, and then keeping your alumni, right? So you’ve got recruiters that have worked for us over the years on and off and keeping that pipeline really rich too. So, I think you keep a stable full-time employees, but then you also can flex up and down.
Matt Alder (15m 27s):
And what role does technology play in this in terms of speeding up the process, allowing recruiters to carry more wrecks? What role does it play?
Jane Curran (15m 36s):
Well, what I’m really, we’re gonna work on next year, 23 with my team is focusing on like zero waste in our system of our ecosystem of talent, right? And the community that we’re building online. So, there’s four ways that we can work with potential recruits, right? There’s either applicants, you’ve got referrals, you’ve got internal candidates, and then you’ve got outbound recruiting. And I really wanna find a way to keep recruiters focusing on that talent that we already have in our ecosystem. And we’ve got technology now to help create, you know that if you have an ATS full of candidates, right? We’ve had 1.2 million people apply to JLL this year.
Jane Curran (16m 17s):
How do you make sure that those people, they expressed interest, they raised their hand, they took the time to fill out the application like that? That’s gold to an organization, right? They want to work here. So how do we make sure that those applicants, if maybe they didn’t get the job that they applied for, that they are sourced either in a dynamic way or automatically there’s automation for that, that they keep alive in our application system? So we’re definitely gonna be using that technology to source our ATS source, our CRM. And then we’re also at this year gonna think about helping our internals raise their hand and say, I’m open to work internally. And you know, in an organization, some hiring managers and I get it right.
Jane Curran (17m 0s):
They’ve helped develop this talent, they wanna keep talent on their team, but in order to grow your career and I and you can have a fabulously long career at JLL, there’s lots of opportunity. We need to help our internal talent move throughout the organization and we’re gonna have some technology to help them, you know, raise their hand, say they’re interested, and then be matched to opportunities at our organization. So I do think that there’s a lot of technology out there to help the candidates have a better experience, get placed in positions, and help the recruiters, you know, a lot of what I just talked about should reduce our need to source externally by 35%. So it’s exciting that I feel like the AI in the recruiting space is finally there.
Jane Curran (17m 42s):
It works and I think we’re lucky to have made some investments in some pretty cool tech at JLL, and we’re just excited to keep adopting and using it to its full extent.
Matt Alder (17m 53s):
So the final question, which really leads on from that in terms of efficiencies and things like that. One of the key themes that everyone’s already talking about for 2023 is how TA can do more with less. And you know, it’s not a new theme because it comes up every time that there are economic problems. But as you say, you know, with the kind of the AI revolution and everything that’s going on, perhaps there are some different answers this time around. What’s your view on that?
Jane Curran (18m 24s):
You know, it comes up every time, not every time, but I mean it comes up often when we survey our employees, right? Like, we really wanna hear from our employees, how are they feeling, what are they thinking? And as a recruiter very often, you know, workload, wrecked load comes up as something that is a concern. And we obviously care about the well-being of our team and we have thought of new ways to help them manage that workload throughout their year. And we really wanna focus on something. We’ve introduced a training called coaching for peak performance and we really try to get the team to focus on the big rocks, you know, in their day, and their week, and their month. You know, what’s the needle-moving work?
Jane Curran (19m 5s):
We consider that big rocks. And then what’s the work that we call pebbles? Stuff that like, you know, just keeps the lights on. That yes you need to get done but can maybe be at the last thing you do that day? And then what’s the sand? What’s the non-value-added work that maybe clogs up your day that we should be thinking about? You know, that could be like scheduling interviews, right? There’s technology for that. How do you push hiring managers to use the tech to automate some of this recruitment process? And then, you know, it’s really like where does all of your work fall between big rocks, needle-moving work. You know, pebbles, the stuff that keeps the lights on and the sand. That’s just what could we stop doing that’s non-value-added work.
Jane Curran (19m 45s):
And adopting this mindset really has helped our team stay laser-focused on the work that matters. So as we all tighten our belts and figure out how we’re gonna do more with less in 23, we really have spent the second half of the year focusing on that training so that our recruiters, our sourcers, our coordinators can feel confident in pushing back to the business when they need to. To say, “You know what, I will get to that but I’ve got other priorities today, some other needle-moving work, I’m gonna work on. I will get to that but it’s gonna be later in the week, or I do this report for you every week. I noticed you don’t open it. So you know what, it would be okay if we stopped doing some of those things.?”
Jane Curran (20m 26s):
So I think we just have to have those honest conversations and kind of going back to the way we started this with your relationships with finance compensation and the business partners. If they understand what your needle-moving work is, they can remove obstacles to make sure that TA is laser-focused on the stuff that the business wants us to be doing in generating great results and then stopping stuff that we’re like, you know, we just don’t have time to do that anymore. And they’re like, you’re right, not important, stop. And I think that’s just what the team needs to hear, that they’re empowered to say no and certainly empowered to say yes to the right work.
Matt Alder (20m 60s):
Jane, Thank you very much for talking to me.
Jane Curran (21m 2s):
Thanks Matt. It’s been an honor to be on your show.
Matt Alder (21m 6s):
My thanks to Jane. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please follow the show on Instagram, you can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at recruitingfuture.com On that site you can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Recruiting Future Feast, and get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time, and I hope you’ll join me.