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Adaptive Recruitment - a Case Study on a Scalable Flexible Workforce Initiative (FRI)

Have you ever faced the challenge of peak hiring demands in one domain while experiencing a lull in another, yet found yourself constrained by rigid staffing structures?

Did your company ever hire freelancers to support during a hiring surge?

Did you work with an external “talent as a service” provider? Or an RPO?

I will take a wild guess and assume that the answer is “yes”.

Have you ever considered the potential of flexible workforce arrangements in talent acquisition but found yourself without a roadmap to implement such a strategy effectively?

This is the Case Study of a large project I led for a Global, 17,000+ employees company, in their talent acquisition department. We will call the project “FRI” - Flexible Recruitment Initiative.

A pioneering initiative designed to cultivate a versatile workforce capable of navigating the ebbs and flows of recruitment needs. This case study delves into the complexities of the program, highlighting its objectives, implementation strategies, and the varied benefits it offers to the organisation.

Problem definition:

The company faced a pressing challenge: the absence of a formalised plan for flexing (to be read - re-deploy or move around) recruiting resources at scale.

NOTE: The size of the talent acquisition department was approximately 220 strong - global teams, split between NA, Germany and India.

  • The approach to hiring demands is predominantly reactive, with recruitment activities being initiated in response to immediate needs rather than through strategic workforce planning,

  • Recruiters reporting feeling overwhelmed when switching between business domains,

  • Reliance on external hiring, which not only incurs additional costs but also results in significant downtime in filling critical talent roles,

  • The TA’s team resilience and adaptability are hindered by a lack of clear skill development, leaving them ill-equipped to handle the fluctuating demands of the market,

  • An absence of a culture that fosters knowledge sharing and continuous improvement has led to a lag in identifying and addressing gaps or inefficiencies in the recruiting efforts.


The program's vision was to transform talent acquisition into a more fluid, responsive function that not only meets immediate hiring demands but also fosters continuous professional development for recruiters.

By focusing on creating versatile talent acquisition partners, enhancing adaptability and resilience, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, FRI aims to streamline the recruitment processes, reduce dependency on external agencies or freelancers, and ultimately lead to a more agile, engaged and efficient talent acquisition function.

Q. Can you potentially avoid layoffs if you have such a program in place?

A: Most likely. This is where and why, creating a Taxonomy of Skills should become mandatory for any department.


Program Objectives and Goals:

diagram for program objectives flexible workforce planning in recruitment

Efficient Resource Allocation:

  • Introduce the flexible work design initiative as a strategic solution

Cost Savings:

  • The program diminishes reliance on external agencies, thereby cutting costs associated with recruitment and training

Enhanced Productivity:

  • Designing a training platform for knowledge sharing, enables participants to quickly adapt and contribute effectively, leading to better hiring quality and productivity

Improved Workforce Planning:

  • Insights into the talent pool's capabilities inform strategic workforce planning, ensuring readiness to meet future business needs - #recruitercapacity

Develop multifaceted Talent Acquisition professionals:

  • Equip participants with a holistic understanding of the talent acquisition processes across the wider organisation

  • Cultivate "utility players" capable of contributing across various business domains

Foster professional growth:

  • Provide hands-on experience, mentorship, and specialized training

  • Build a robust professional network within the organization

Stimulate innovation and continuous improvement:

  • Integrate fresh, new perspectives and insights gained from varied experiences.


Implementation plan:

Step 0: Build a project team

Project Management & Timeline:

  • Team Composition: I led the team and had 2 colleagues supporting.

  • Working Model: Allocated 3-4 hours weekly as a side project.

  • Duration: Completion targeted within 6-9 weeks.

Step 1: Design - Development - Deployment

Phase 1: Strategic Foundation & Framework

We initiated the Flexible Recruitment Initiative (FRI) with a focus on creating a robust framework. This involved a meticulous process of defining the roles and tools necessary for a successful launch.

Key Highlights:

  • Strategic Planning:

    • We developed a blueprint that aligns with the needs of the entire TA department, ensuring that our approach is both scalable and adaptable.

  • Develop Clear Definitions for how the work rotations should look like

  • Skills Taxonomy

  • Collaborative Development:

    • Engaging with key stakeholders to refine the current tools, ensuring they are both intuitive and effective for real-world application.

  • Metrics for Success:

    • Identified KPIs that serve as our north star, guiding the program towards measurable outcomes.

Phase 2: Training Development and Launch

Key Highlights:

  • Curriculum design:

    • Craft a training curriculum that equips participants with the necessary insights to excel, without overwhelming them with unnecessary details.

    • Ensure that the management has its own training track

    • Design a template for leaders to prepare the future flexing resources with role-specific information, including candidate profiles, performance data, and team norms.

  • Visibility tools:

    • Capacity Tracker - a tool to enhance visibility and streamline the recruitment process

    • Flexible working Use Cases - a set of guidelines to optimise resource allocation

  • Brand Development:

    • Crafted a communication strategy to inspire participation and highlight value.

Phase 3: Implementation

Overview: Launch the initiative and plan for scaling during peak recruitment periods, in the relevant recruitment teams.

Key Highlights:

  • Participant Selection and Onboarding

  • Targeted Training

  • Performance Analytics:

    • By monitoring key metrics, you gather valuable insights, allowing for fine-tuning the approach while maintaining the proprietary nature of the methods.

Step 2: Measuring Success

Success metrics for the Flexible Workforce Initiative (FRI) include:

Assignment Completion Rates:

  • Evaluating the percentage of successful completions as an indicator of program effectiveness

Time to Adapt:

  • Measures the time it takes for a recruiter to adapt to a new business domain (target 1 week)

Quality of Hire

Manager and Recruiter Satisfaction:

  • Utilising Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to measure satisfaction levels and gather feedback

Time to Fill and Cost per Hire:

  • Monitoring efficiency improvements and cost reductions.

"Matching talent to opportunities requires balancing several factors: business objectives, the need for agility, workers’ preferences, and continuity in existing work. Achieving that balance confounds organizations in every sector." (Kay Wakeham)


The FRI project I led represents a strategic shift towards a more agile and resilient talent acquisition function.

By embracing flexibility, fostering skill development, and enhancing collaboration, the program not only meets immediate hiring needs but also contributes to the long-term success and growth of any company.

The project can be adapted to any function, it is not addressed purely to Talent Acquisition.

With a robust framework for managing flexible assignments, comprehensive training sessions, and clear communication protocols, we can empower our employees to extend their support across various business domains, for example, in talent acquisition, for moving from Tech Recruitment to Sales and Service, in peak times, etc.

social talent quote leadership importance in employee engagement

Embrace Workforce Flexibility in Talent Acquisition: A Call to Action

Has this narrative of flexible talent acquisition resonated with the challenges your company faces?

If you're looking to refine your company's approach to talent acquisition with practical, adaptable strategies, I'm here to offer guidance. My support to you is grounded in real-world experience, providing actionable insights to enhance your recruitment flexibility. Let's have a discussion about your specific needs and how we can work together to make your talent acquisition process more responsive and efficient. It's about creating a robust system that supports your business goals and nurtures your internal talent.

+Reach out, and let's start building a more adaptable and effective recruitment framework for your organisation.

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