From Silos to Synergies: How to Take a Holistic Approach to Hiring

If your hiring managers and recruiters are filling roles in isolation, you're seriously limiting the value that talent teams bring to the table. Here are our top tips for how you can move from a siloed hiring process to one that works like a well-oiled machine. 

Filling a role is never about just filling a role.

When you recruit someone for a new position, you're changing the course of someone's career, and you're bringing core competence into the team, and helping launch a product or idea that could touch millions of people.

Between to-do lists, demanding schedules, and competing priorities, the bigger picture and overall impact of filling a role can get lost.

And before you know it, you're filling one role after the next with limited context. Teams are working in silos, and you're just trying to give your calendar breathing room, keep candidates motivated, and hiring managers satisfied.

But, looking at roles in isolation can have severe consequences for the organization's success and limit the value that talent teams bring to the table. And the only way out is to take a step back, get the context you need, and connect the dots between the information you have. Thinking about the bigger picture is how you move away from siloed teams and isolated roles, and into synergies and hiring teams that move as one motion towards a single goal.

Understanding holistic recruitment

"Normal" recruitment is typically transactional and focused on filling job vacancies in isolation. Typically, traditional recruitment also focuses on carrying out recruitment processes step by step, with the team placing one foot in front of the other to push candidates through the pipeline.

In contrast, holistic recruitment takes a more strategic and comprehensive approach. Rather than looking at roles in isolation, it considers a team and a company as one motion. Holistic recruitment thinks far ahead around how the individuals within a team will work together, and how the different teams within a company will complement each other. It also considers the entire talent lifecycle, from attraction and selection to retention and development, rather than thinking about recruiters and process steps like cogs in a machine.

The result? A strong focus on candidate experience, diversity, data-driven decision-making, and alignment with the organization's mission and values

How is holistic recruitment different?

Now that we've laid out exactly what we mean by "holistic recruitment," let's clarify how it differs from traditional or "normal" recruitment. This list is not exhaustive, but these are the six key dimensions where we feel holistic recruitment really stands apart.

Comprehensive Perspective:

  • Normal Recruitment: Traditional recruitment primarily focuses on filling specific job openings one-by-one. Even if the candidate hired is a perfect fit from a qualifications perspective, there wasn't much long-term thought given to how this role will develop in the organization and collaborate with others.
  • Holistic Recruitment: Holistic recruitment takes a broader view, considering long-term organizational needs and goals. It involves a comprehensive evaluation of the entire team and company, encompassing current and future talent requirements.

Values-Centric Approach:

  • Normal Recruitment: Often, conventional recruitment is more concentrated on finding a candidate with the right skills or background for the job. It rarely gives attention to how a candidate stacks up against company values or culture in a systematic way.
  • Holistic Recruitment: Holistic recruitment prioritizes culture and values by intentionally weaving it into the interview process. For example, if a company value is "better together," and a candidate states that they prefer working alone, they might not be the right hire (no matter how great they look on paper). Holistic recruitment aims to attract talent who align with the company culture and values.

Diversity and Inclusion:

  • Normal Recruitment: A hiring manager may come out of an interview with a great feeling about a candidate if they two got along well, solved problems the same way, or even had the same sense of humor. "Like me" bias - or the tendency to overvalue people who are like us, or who we think are like us **-**is a recurring issue for people who aren't intentional in thinking about the team as a whole. Standard recruitment may overlook this bias and move forward with the candidate without giving much attention to diversity and inclusion efforts. This can result in homogeneous candidate pools, teams, and even organizations in the long run.
  • Holistic Recruitment: As mentioned many times before, holistic recruitment actively thinks about team and organizational dynamics in every process. This means that holistic recruitment deliberately seeks diverse talent and understands the value of different perspectives and backgrounds. It includes strategies for creating an inclusive workplace and reducing biases in hiring (i.e., bias training, data-driven assessment, and diversity pipeline KPIs).

Data-Driven Decision-Making:

  • Normal Recruitment: Thinking about roles and individual hires in isolation, leaves room for intuition and past practices rather than data-driven insights. Instead of thinking about the contribution and growth an individual can give to a team, you may be thinking about how well they could execute a task or how well you liked them as an individual - both of which can have tremendous consequences in the long run.
  • Holistic Recruitment: Holistic recruitment leverages data analytics to make informed decisions. It uses metrics like pipeline diversity, candidate NPS, quality of hire, and employee retention rates to measure the success of recruitment efforts and continually refine strategies.

Alignment with Organizational Goals:

  • Normal Recruitment: Conventional recruitment may not always be aligned with broader organizational objectives. Again, it focuses on filling the role with little regard for how that role, or the individual in that role, fits into the bigger picture. As a result, you may find yourself with great hires who are working towards misaligned goals, who don't work well with one another, or who don't fit into the company culture and values model.
  • Holistic Recruitment: Holistic recruitment is closely aligned with the organization's strategic goals. It considers how talent acquisition can contribute to the long-term success and growth of a given team, product/service, and business. We've got an entire article on how you can connect your talent strategy to your business strategy, but the image below provides a quick recap on how the two align. And you guessed it - holistic recruitment teams strategically utilize positioning and hiring roadmaps to align their work to long-term company goals.

Long-Term Talent Management:

  • Normal Recruitment: Traditional recruitment often ends with the hiring process, with little ongoing focus on talent development. Once the role is filled, the TA team moves on to the next and hands the hire over HR or the hiring manager. This can seriously impact onboarding, success in a role, retention, and overall employee satisfaction.
  • Holistic Recruitment: Holistic recruitment extends beyond hiring to encompass talent management, including onboarding, training, and career development, to ensure that employees thrive and grow within the organization. These long-term initiatives are supported by the fact that the hiring team was thinking about the new hires' growth and development within the team and company from the first interactions. By working team dynamics and culture into your hiring process, setting employees up for long-term success feels like a natural extension of your work.

The risks of filling roles in isolation

If you reflect on the points above, you can get a pretty clear idea of why you shouldn't fill roles in isolation.

But to break it down a step further, here are some risks of the role-by-role approach to hiring:

  1. Limited Alignment: Isolated recruitment may result in hiring candidates without a clear alignment with the organization's overall strategy and long-term goals. If you make this mistake once or twice, it may go unnoticed - but filling dozens of roles without consideration for the bigger picture can have serious consequences.
  2. Skills Mismatch: There's a higher risk of hiring candidates who possess skills specific to the role but can't adapt to changing business needs or collaborate effectively in a broader context. So no matter how great of a developer or sales rep they are, they will hinder long-term progress.
  3. Cultural Disconnect: Isolated recruitment can neglect the importance of cultural fit within the organization, potentially leading to conflicts, reduced teamwork, and lower employee morale.
  4. Wasted Resources: Hiring for a role here and there without thinking about other departments may lead to redundant or overlapping roles within the organization, wasting valuable resources and increasing operational costs.
  5. Missed Diversity Opportunities: Without a holistic approach, organizations may miss opportunities to diversify their workforce, resulting in a lack of varied backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas.
  6. Inefficient Talent Management: Recruitment in isolation may not consider how new hires fit into the overall talent ecosystem, making it challenging to manage and develop employees after they have been onboarded.
  7. Lack of Succession Planning: Isolated recruitment can overlook the importance of identifying and developing talent for future leadership roles, potentially leaving gaps in leadership when key personnel depart. This lack of workforce planning can result in hiring more roles than you need or leaving your current employees feeling like there isn't a future for them in the organization.
  8. Difficulty in Adapting to Change: A lack of consideration for the broader organizational context may make it difficult for the company to adapt to market changes and evolving business needs.

How to move towards holistic recruitment

Okay, so hiring roles in isolation is not the way to run your talent function. But how can you move towards more holistic hiring? How can you make sure you and your team connect the dots and make decisions with the right context?

On a strategic level, you'll need to have context across departments. What are the priorities for Finance? What about Sales and Product? What funding or reporting rounds is your company working towards? Get context around key decisions and priorities across teams to paint a better picture of workforce planning. You'll also need to get clear about your employer brand, data, and DEI goals with management so that you can design a tactical plan to execute on those goals.

On a more tactical level, we recommend limiting repeated reliance on recruitment agencies that work on a project-by-project basis. The main reason is that these companies have limited insight into your company's culture, goals, and inter-workings. So, even if they find a great hire here or there, it's not a repeatable way to find the best fit for your organization. If you rely on an external supplier repeatedly, you might find that over time your talent function becomes increasingly disconnected from your core business. However, if you do lack capacity, consider working with an embedded recruitment provider to add on operational and strategic capabilities. 

Lastly, make sure your hiring teams are in regular communication about what are roles are being filled and why. This will add context to their own hiring decisions and priorities. Keeping the team aligned could be as simple as having a shared Slack group or email thread where you send monthly or weekly updates about ongoing processes. Other simple measures like making sure your hiring managers are trained on value hiring, bias, and the ATS system will equip them with the tools needed to make decisions that benefit the entire organization - not only themselves or their department. 

Implementing a comprehensive approach to recruitment may seem like a no-brainer, but be mindful that you might run into some challenges along the way. It's not realistic (or necessary) that you have all of the answers and a solution to every challenge - but we still want to outline a few common hiccups you may come across so that you're not blindsided if (or when) they happen.

  1. Resistance to Change: Employees and organizational stakeholders may resist changes to established recruitment processes and methodologies, making it challenging to implement a holistic approach.
  2. Resource Constraints: Shifting to a holistic approach often requires additional resources, such as technology and training that you might not have in place today (i.e., an ATS, hiring manager training, communication principles, etc.). Securing the necessary resources can be a hurdle for talent acquisition leaders.
  3. Competing Priorities: Talent acquisition leaders may face competing priorities within their organizations, which can divert attention and resources away from holistic recruitment initiatives. For example, if you're tasked with implementing a new progression framework or conducting a salary review.
  4. Siloed Departments: In larger organizations, different departments or business units may have their own recruitment practices, which can lead to siloed approaches and hinder the collaboration needed for a holistic strategy.
  5. Talent Shortages: In competitive industries or regions, talent shortages can pose a significant challenge, making it hard to find diverse and qualified candidates to fill roles. It can be tempting to hire someone who might not align with your values or who solves problems the way you do when you're in a pinch.

A holistic approach to hiring is not always straightforward, but it's worth the effort. It requires a shift in thinking and a willingness to look beyond your current priorities and most urgent roles, but the results can be transformative. With a holistic approach, organizations can build teams that are more diverse, more engaged, and more aligned with the company's mission. The result is a more productive, innovative, and successful organization.

Author profile Meagan Leber

Growth Marketing Manager at Amby, who loves writing about the tech, venture capital, and people space.