When you’re caught up in the daily minutia of running your talent acquisition program, it makes it almost impossible to bring in new ideas to your organization. To innovate your program, you’ll need to look to the outside world. External research inspires, gives perspective and energizes you to keep innovating. It helps push you beyond the “we have always done it this way” mentality and gives you ammunition to push for change.

If you are stuck getting an idea through your organization, external research can help you learn from the experiences of other organizations. It gives you data to build a business case. If you have been tasked with starting a new project or program, it will help you get up to speed quickly. If you have been managing the same program for years, it will help you jump-start your creative process.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Books: There is an abundance of books that relate to your work that are outside of talent acquisition: selling, marketing, facilitation, creativity, writing, building teams, change management, and project management. I could go on forever. The important point is to keep an open mind and learn from industries beyond our own.

Corporate Memberships: If your company has memberships with organizations like CEB, The Conference Board, Bersin by Deloitte, Brandon Hall Group or HCI, take advantage! They provide wealth of insights that you can customize to your organization’s needs. You may not be able to use the multimillion dollar marketing campaign, but maybe there is a specific marketing channel or audience you hadn’t considered previously.

Blogs and Social Media: LinkedIn Pulse and your favorite guru blogs can be a great source of information. I have also found Twitter to be a good place to look for bloggers. You don’t even need a Twitter account — just type in the keywords (ex. intern program) you are looking for and inevitably users have shared links to articles on that topic. You click on the link and you have a new blogger and perspective to consider. You can also subscribe to services such as Google Alerts,Content Gems or Digg

Webinars: I know most webinars are trying to sell you something, but most are also really trying to bring you good content that you can use (in addition to trying to sell you something). Most are archived so you can listen at home in your pajamas or when the mood strikes you. A few good sources for webinars are RecruitingBlogs, ERE and HR.com

Conferences and Events: While I’m often in the minority, I enjoy breakout sessions and find good bits of inspiration from the speakers. This mostly comes down to having an open mind and being humble enough to appreciate learning from your peers. In addition to formal presentations, discussions with attendees can be just as fruitful.

LinkedIn Groups: Ask advice from your peers and also share your successes. If you had an idea that launched into an initiative, share it with your peers, especially any lessons learned. I launched a group for talent acquisition program managers because I wanted a place to bounce ideas off my peers.

Ask Authors and Presenters: Contact the author of the book, article or webinar you attended. If they are local, grab a cup of coffee or introduce yourself at an event. It can be intimidating but they are people who put their pants on one leg at a time too. I have found content creators who are happy to meet a fan.
The idea of external research seems daunting, but like so many other tasks it gets easier when you break it up into pieces. Research articles at night while you are watching television. In the morning when you are drinking your coffee, listen to a webinar. The book Getting Things Done inspired me to keep a maybe/someday list for all of my external research. Here is an example.


You keep this handy, and when you are having a slow day, reach out to one of the authors or organizations that are your list. You can pull out this list every year during your annual planning process. The possibilities are limitless.

The key to this research is not to copy exactly what other companies are doing. It is to bring fresh perspective which you then customize to your organization strategy and needs.

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If you are interested in learning more about how to apply this technique to your talent acquisition program take a look at our Talent Acquisition Program Management Academy.

About Moe Hutt

Moe helps talent acquisition teams solve complex problems by customizing best practices to fit the unique needs of your company. She has designed and implemented enterprise intern, employee referral, contingent workforce and recruiter training programs. From drafting recruiter service level agreements to managing the launch of a new employer brand, she specializes in striking a balance between creativity and efficiency.

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