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Redefining Talent Acquisition: A TRC2023 Workshop Synopsis on Strategic Career Design

Insights from the Front Lines - the review of the workshop “Crafting your Future - An Introduction to Strategic Career Design” I just led for #TRC2023 in Amsterdam.

In our challenging professional landscape, navigating our careers requires not just a compass but a well-designed map.

This was the core premise of the workshop “Crafting your Future - An Introduction to Strategic Career Design” that I had the privilege to lead.

The workshop was an exploration aimed at delving into the aspirations, challenges, and the evolving paradigms of Talent Acquisition (TA) professionals.

As promised to the roomful of engaging individuals, I took to the task of meticulously analysing all of our contributions.

TRC2023 Workshop Findings Strategic Career Design

This article is not just a reflection but a continuance of the dialogue initiated, offering a compelling call to action for TA leaders keen on crafting a robust career design strategy.

It integrates the workshop's learnings, useful categorisation from our “discovery”, and an insightful conclusion.

Below, I will give you a glimpse into the data we gathered during our 30 minutes workshop.


  • The content analysis,

  • What categories “jumped at me”,

  • The main conclusions and

  • Calls to action - for both leaders of TA and individual contributors.

Straight off the bat - the analysis revealed a significant undercurrent – a desire for diversified growth paths, a shift from a rather monolithic to a “micro-serviced” career development framework within talent acquisition.

My analytical process


  • The first step involved identifying recurring themes or commonalities among the listed findings from the workshop (long-live those post-it notes!)

  • Each unique idea, role, or term was placed into broader categories based on its relevance to a particular aspect of Talent Acquisition or related areas.

  • I then devised a few categories (thanks ChatGPT Data Mining).


  • I drew conclusions by observing the frequency and the context of the mentioned terms within each category.

  • For instance, the frequent mention of roles or terms related to leadership, learning, employer branding and operational efficiency led to the respective conclusions regarding the importance of these areas to the participants.

TRC2023 All Topics identified for the Workshop Strategic Career Design
TRC2023 All Topics identified for the Workshop Strategic Career Design

Category 1: Unveiling potential: core themes from talent aspirations

The analysis of 128 content items culminated in 5 core themes, mirroring the collective aspirations and concerns of the participants.

This categorisation reveals a roadmap towards strategic evolution, operational efficiency, external engagement, developmental focus, and technology adoption.

It's a reflection of the dynamic roles and skills the participants envisage as pivotal in navigating the future of Talent Acquisition.

TRC2023 Workshop Results Strategic Career Design Category 1
TRC2023 Workshop Results Strategic Career Design Category 1

Category 2: Mapping growth: diverse pathways in TA

The second one reveals a blueprint for career advancements within Talent Acquisition (TA), underscoring the richness and diversity of growth paths.

From honing critical skills to embracing cross-functional roles, this sheds light on the myriad avenues which should be made available for TA professionals.

It's an echo of the inherent desire for a more flexible, innovative, and enriched career trajectory in the realm of Talent Acquisition.

TRC2023 Workshop Results Strategic Career Design Category 2
TRC2023 Workshop Results Strategic Career Design Category 2

You have access to the Google Sheet here.


The 10 main conclusions:

1. Career Diversification

  • A strong desire exists for advancing and diversifying career paths within Talent Acquisition, encompassing advisory roles.

  • The emphasis is on empowering individuals to branch out, leverage transferable skills, and contribute across various organisational facets from employer branding to process automation.

  • Individuals may consider exiting the usual job agreements (permanent roles, corporate, previously seen as a “safer” alternative, etc.) and venture into own consultancies, companies or gigs, to allow them to express the entirety of the TA role without the proverbial glass ceiling they face in the more traditional business.

2. Continuous Learning

  • Participants identify a significant need for continuous learning and skill development to remain relevant and progress in their careers.

3. Operational Efficiency

  • Both personal and organisational growth are seen to hinge on operational efficiency and process innovation.

  • Data storytelling, Talent Intelligence, Market Mapping are recurring topics and the TA leaders should ensure to enable such functions in their teams.

4. Inspirational Leadership

  • Effective team management and leadership skills are pivotal for career advancement.

  • The need for inspirational, visionary, and innovative leadership is highlighted.

5. Cross-functional Exploration

  • There's a notable open-mindedness towards exploring cross-functional roles and external engagements to broaden career horizons and contribute more significantly to organisational success.

6. Employer Branding

  • Employer branding is pivotal, with a strong consensus on its importance in attracting and retaining top talent, and in shaping the company's public image.

7. Strategic Thinking

  • A clear emphasis exists on the need for strategic and critical thinking within the organisation, valuing a more analytical and long-term approach to decision-making and problem-solving.

  • People call out to the leadership to ensure that we provide the TA with the strategic positioning we want to embody.

8. Diversity and Inclusion Priority

  • The highlighting of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) points to a recognition of the need for a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

9. Learning and Development Importance

  • Frequent mentions of learning and development, alongside soft skills, underscore a belief in continuous professional growth and the cultivation of a learning culture.

10. Tech-Driven Operational Efficiency

  • The focus on process automation and people analytics suggests a trend towards leveraging technology to streamline HR operations and make data-driven decisions.

  • The participants highlighted the importance of being enabled in their work to utilise modern tooling.


Calls to action

A move from theoretical discussion to actionable insight is “where the rubber meets the road”. Here’s what you need to shift towards:

Crafting Cohesive Career Development Plans

  1. Tailoring career development plans that resonate with the multidimensional nature of TA,

  2. Enable professionals to branch out based on their strengths, interests, and the true organisation's needs.

Leveraging Transferable Skills

  1. Recognising and harnessing the transferable skills within the TA sphere to foster cross-functional engagement and innovation.

Enabling a Culture of Continuous Learning

  1. Encouraging a growth mindset, upskilling, and continuous learning to stay ahead of the evolving market trends and organisational demands.

  2. Build and deliver relevant, modern trainings and workshops - GenAI, AI, Data Analysis, Talent Intelligence, Influencing without Authority, Storytelling, Recruitment Marketing, etc.


The workshop was a snippet of the larger dialogue awaiting the TA community.

It’s about redefining our own growth, not just vertically but horizontally, allowing TA professionals to morph into roles that go beyond traditional boundaries.

The discourse around strategic and critical thinking reflects a workforce that is not content with the status quo. It's a call for a more thoughtful and deliberate approach to business and development overall.

My personal take on all of the above - if we were to mix and match the skills, capabilities, interests, growth areas just identified - am I right to say that, with a few exceptions, they are embodied by Principals 👀? With a blend of strategic thinking, operational efficiency, and cross-functional engagement? I will leave this here as #foodforthought.

The journey doesn’t end here; it’s just the beginning of a much-needed dialogue in the ever-evolving landscape of Talent Acquisition. Join me in it.


I will end with a really heartfelt “THANK YOU” to the participants yesterday, similarly, to Elliot Read for the support during the workshop and for that WOW introduction and to Adriaan Kolff who organised this fantastic conference and granted me a space.

Until next time folks,


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