Roundtable Recap: Why is Now the Right Time to Conduct a Talent Audit?

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Earlier this month, Talentful teamed up with Recruiting Brainfood to host a VIP roundtable for some of the UK’s leading figures in HR and Talent Acquisition.

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Attendees from a number of the world’s most exciting brands came together to discuss the importance of regularly auditing your talent function. At a time when companies can hardly afford to waste funds on inefficiencies in the talent acquisition process, it was a highly thought-provoking discussion. 

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What is a talent audit and why are they so valuable?

A talent audit is an end to end review of how effective current processes are in evaluating the whole recruitment lifecycle and how each step can potentially be improved. It’s essential, one attendee noted, to supporting the wider business strategy, helping to identify where gaps are and what talent is required.

The group went on to discuss how the value of a talent audit is dependent upon being absolutely clear amongst all relevant stakeholders as to why you’re conducting the audit and how you intend to take action against the results it provides. If you’re operating in a market with multiple different locations, said one of the attendees, you’ll need to make sure it’s equally valuable across all of your different territories.

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Making the case for a talent audit to enhance D&I

One interesting point raised was that a talent audit allows you to track against your diversity and inclusion metrics throughout the whole recruitment and employee lifecycle. It enables you to assess where and why certain people might be dropping out. This then becomes a powerful tool for making the business case for conducting a talent audit, at a time when D&I has rightfully been bumped up the agenda in most board meetings.

It was widely agreed that D&I needs to form a central element within a talent audit, not just an extra consideration to be tacked onto the end of the process. One attendee pointed out that gender-balanced shortlists make a huge difference to the kinds of talent you are attracting, with another discussing how auditing their talent function led to a number of significant changes that opened up opportunities for more diverse talent and helped reduce employee attrition. 

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Working with third parties to conduct talent audits on a regular basis

The conversation progressed from diversity and inclusion initiatives to the question of whether auditing your talent function is an ongoing process or a one-off ‘stake in the ground’ project. Most attendees felt that the term ‘audit’ is in some ways misleading, as it suggests a one-time-only process. 

Yet for the majority of the audience, the key to success is to be continually auditing, tweaking and optimising. Auditing your talent does not have an end date, it’s a constantly evolving process which requires organisations to consistently learn, adapt and improve. In order to do so, the consensus was that it’s important to use a third party – with one attendee pointing out that investing in an experienced consultancy can pay dividends thanks to the quality of external unbiased insight. Another pointed out the long-term strategic benefits, noting that it helped them to plan where they were heading in the future and address gaps in their current talent set up.

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What sort of models or frameworks are there?

Running audits as a sprint, spending a few days dedicated to one particular topic within the wider talent function had been particularly successful for one of the attendees. Each member of their team would have very different responsibilities within these focused sprints, meaning there was little overlap or resource wastage.

For others, it was important to find industry benchmarks or data from similar companies (where available). Otherwise, they argued, how can you fully understand which opportunities you might be missing out on if you only have your own results to compare to?

Be clear on why you’re conducting the audit

Largely, answers to this final discussion point revolved around how important it is for a talent audit to be a business-partnering process so that strategic recommendations can be implemented company-wide. It was also felt that a talent audit should be a proactive and preemptive process, not just a reactive response to deep-lying business issues. And finally, an attendee warned of the dangers of making assumptions. This, they said, could muddy the integration of the outcome. Their advice? Step out and do it properly. Try not to bias yourself.


If you would like to find out more about the benefits of auditing your talent function, or are looking for an external partner for an unbiased talent audit process, speak to one of our Talent Directors today by getting in touch.

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