SmartRecruiters Blog
Man speaking to a woman with a computer showing charts

6 Key Responsibilities of a Talent Acquisition Operations Manager

There’s no doubt that talent acquisition has become more complex. Often, leaders turn to technology without understanding how their systems will work together to solve recruiting challenges. Often, they try to retrofit functionality to homegrown processes it wasn’t meant for. They can also struggle across geographies with so many different compliance requirements. 

The result can be a patchwork of systems that don’t talk to one another, thus requiring recruiters to spend their time on administrative tasks rather than building relationships with candidates. For example, before upgrading to SmartRecruiters, recruiters at Deloitte Netherlands spent up to 50% of their time on administrative tasks because they encountered more than 200 manual data entry points in a typical candidate journey. 

It shouldn’t have to be this way. Recruiters work on the frontlines of the employee experience and deserve technology that makes their process more efficient. Functional knowledge of talent acquisition is required to keep those systems up to speed. That knowledge is not usually housed within the skillset of the central IT or even the HRIT department. 

TA Operations Manager: A role to connect the dots

It takes someone with a long view, an eye toward innovation, and the ability to translate business requirements into technical capabilities to enable hiring success from a systems perspective. “You can have the best tools and systems in place, but if people don’t know how to use them, you’re not making their lives easier,” says Stefan Welack, Global Talent Acquisition Enablement Lead at Xplor Technologies.

Stefan described his role as similar to a stage manager in a theater. On LinkedIn, he wrote that he’s like “the stagehand you don’t see but the person who works behind the scenes to make sure that everything runs smoothly, so the audience sees a seamless performance by the fabulous people on stage.” The people on stage are the recruiters who need to seamlessly flow between the many tasks involved in sourcing, screening, interviewing, and hiring candidates.

Some companies have adapted to this scenario by defining roles within talent acquisition, such as TA Enablement Lead, TA Operations Manager, or TA Ecosystem Manager. For large organizations, managing the systems supporting the ever-evolving needs of talent acquisition is a full-time job. Here are the key requirements for this position.

1. Ability to translate business requirements into technical specifications 

Talent acquisition is not like supply chain planning or even people operations. Functional knowledge of the hiring process and an interest in optimizing it is essential for anyone in this role. This person needs to be able to hear a complaint or roadblock and come up with viable solutions because they have a deep understanding of both the TA lifecycle and the capabilities of recruiting systems.

2. Ensure compliance across geographies 

Any global firm will find that the maze of governmental requirements makes it difficult to develop fully standardized recruiting processes across national borders. The TA enablement manager will have to make judgment calls on when to configure processes and systems for each country, or when to apply standardization based on the country with the strictest requirements. They’ll also need to evaluate new systems based on their global capabilities and work closely with information security and legal teams.

3. Understand training requirements and change management 

Configuring and implementing new systems are only the start of change; as Stefan mentioned, people need to know how to use them. At Xplor, he assisted with developing training materials and process documentation. When everyone uses the system properly, it’s a double win: candidates receive a better experience, and the company collects data that allows it to optimize processes further.

4. Manage the TA lifecycle across systems

Companies use an average of ten systems for hiring, including an ATS. While some chose to consolidate functionality by investing in a hiring platform incorporating a career site, job advertising, CRM, chatbot, and onboarding, most firms also seek to use additional tools for sourcing, assessments, and background checks. 

The TA enablement manager will be tasked with looking at solutions with a full TA lifecycle perspective and understanding how they fit together to fulfill current TA goals. This person should understand where overlap exists between systems, where functionality is missing or underutilized, and how the systems can be connected and streamlined for maximum recruiting effectiveness. During times when recruiting needs evolve quickly and experimentation is required, managing integrations and understanding APIs is an ongoing responsibility.

5. Facilitate a data-driven team 

The adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” rings true for talent acquisition. The TA enablement manager should ensure that data is captured and monitored efficiently for continuous improvement of talent acquisition as a whole.

At Xplor Technologies, Stefan’s team invested in setting up Tableau dashboards that visualize openings, pass-through rates, fill rates, source of hire, candidate drop-off, rejections, recruiter productivity, job board performance, and more. Stefan said the new dashboards help the team “spot trends, identify issues, and make decisions faster.” 

Recruiting effectiveness also includes measuring team performance and stakeholder satisfaction. The TA enablement lead may be involved with initiating and tracking candidate and hiring manager satisfaction surveys. 

Accurate, actionable reporting allows TA to strengthen its position as a partner to the business. For Xplor, better reporting led to TA becoming “a true force in scaling our business,” according to Stefan’s manager, Kara Ayers, Head of Global Talent Acquisition.

6. Stay up to date with the market 

The pace of change in both business and technology means that new solutions are always arising for new problems. A TA enablement manager should understand both the business and how technology is evolving so that they can make wise recommendations. Today’s hot topics include the uses of AI: machine learning-based applications such as recruiting chatbots and resume screening and LLMs such as ChatGPT and Bard for candidate communications, job descriptions, and more.

Connecting with peers and engaging in ongoing learning is vital to steady career growth. That might include attending conferences like RecFest, HRTech, and UNLEASH. It can also include listening to podcasts like Recruiting Future.

At RecFest UK 2023, SmartRecruiters sponsored the Hiring Without Boundaries stage focused on TA education. Ben Handyside, Director, Talent Acquisition, EMEA at Colliers led a standing-room-only session on how TA can use ChatGPT. Watch Ben and catch all the sessions here, or listen to him on the Recruiting Future podcast, “Using AI Strategically.”

TA Operations Management empowers hiring teams

Recruiters and hiring managers shouldn’t have to be experts in recruitment technology. A system with good UX empowers recruiters and hiring managers, while the people backstage like Stefan manage the configurations. With a staff member who manages the systems and keeps everyone on track, hiring teams can work seamlessly to fill roles more efficiently and with better quality hires.

“Recruitment enablement is essential for the future of talent acquisition,” Stefan writes. “Companies that implement recruitment enablement strategies will have a competitive edge.” We couldn’t agree more. Click the link below to learn more about how SmartRecruiters empowers hiring teams–whether you have a TA operations manager or not.

Lee Ann Prescott