About us

Our Story

Talent Intelligence was established in 2002 as a global talent management firm that provides services for attracting the best and brightest, talent planning, and risk management. With offices in Chicago, London, Singapore, and Sydney, Talent Intelligence brings a global view to the delivery of its services.

Through our research-driven approach to talent acquisition, we enable businesses to find, recruit and retain great talent while connecting people to rewarding careers with the world’s top companies.

What Really Makes our Solution Unique?

There are many benefits to choosing Talent Intelligence as your recruiting firm of choice to attract and retain talent. We have taken years to refine our unique approach and move far beyond what traditional recruiting firms offer. We do this in a number of ways including:

Exclusivity – Once you accept a candidate, they will not be presented to any other clients. You will have an exclusive talent pool to draw from to solve immediate needs and to reduce the impact of longer-term recruiting challenges.

Cost-Effectiveness – Our fee structure is transparent with no additional costs or success fees to be paid. This allows our clients to accurately forecast and budget the right amount for talent acquisition.

Market Insights – It’s competitive out there, and we want you to know how your company is perceived as an employer in the marketplace, and how your established brand enhances or diminishes your ability to attract top talent.

Socialized Talent Pools – Once we develop a pool of candidates for you, we maintain contact for the duration of our work together and further cultivate interest among the candidates we have selected for you in professional opportunities, long-term business initiatives, and career development opportunities.

Diverse Talent – It is our goal that your candidate pool aligns with your organization’s diversity and inclusion goals. We know your talent pool must mirror the marketplace in which you do business. We actively and strategically pursue a diverse candidate pool that reflects your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Talent Dashboard – We present, manage and maintain talent profiles through our comprehensive talent dashboard that includes salary expectations, years of experience, open positions, candidate location, gender and diversity information, and companies at which candidates formerly worked.

Job Description Bias Review – We help ensure all job descriptions are appealing to a diverse candidate pool by removing any bias language using algorithms developed by Talent Intelligence.

Role Profile Analysis – Our Industrial Organizational Psychologist has perfected our position description process to better identify qualified candidates sooner.

About Talent Intelligence: An Interview with CFO Ian Matthews

We had an opportunity to sit down with Ian Matthews, CFO of the international talent acquisition company, Talent Intelligence. In the crowded field of recruiting agencies, Talent Intelligence makes its mark as one of the most unique and creative players in the field. From its strong focus on primary research and relationship building to its long tradition of promoting the importance of diversity and inclusion, the analytics produced by the company – and its unique pricing model – set it apart from other traditional recruiting firms.

I joined Talent Intelligence in 2015 because I saw them as a potential disruptor company for an industry that really hadn’t adapted to change – to the internet or to the availability of data. The real power the recruiting agencies used to have was that they knew who was where, because people had responded to their marketing. No company could find that stuff out – you just couldn’t get to it. Now everyone can get to it. Now the power lies in actually identifying who the people are that are relevant for the search; the power now is getting that person interested in the job you have for them.

The way it should work in my mind is, by creating a great service, we’re able to get the best people and persuade them that you’re the best employer for them, because you’re the exact right match.

That is a whole different set of investments to make. Before, the fee was a percentage of a role’s salary because there was some uncertainty about whether you could find somebody. Now it’s about how much time you have to put in to talk to that person, to talk to your client. And to me that means you need to assess the fee in a different way. It’s really become time. Certainly – we don’t charge by the hour, but we do forecast that this is going to take “X” amount of time and that’s how much we’re going to charge for it. And I think that’s much fairer. The way it should work in my mind is, by creating a great service, we’re able to get the best people and persuade them that you’re the best employer for them, because you’re the exact right match. It takes me this long to do it and I should charge you this much for it, because of the great job I’ve done, not because of the salary paid, due to the value you’ve created for your business.

Well, one of them is the fee basis and our method of dealing with that, but another is that we are exclusive in our work for a company – which also relates back to our fees. Anyone we bring to a client, if they are interested in that individual as a candidate, we will not present that person to another company. Even though we may be working on hiring for the same role for other companies. We’ve given our client that information and we’ve been paid for that service. If they employ that person a year from now, we haven’t done any more work and there’s no reason we should be paid again for it. In a traditional recruitment agency, they would present, say, three people to the client. If the client employs one of them, they pay the remaining fee and then, in a year’s time, if they employ another one of the three, they pay that all over again. Double the fee for no more work. Again, that doesn’t seem fair to me. Fair is, you paid me for the work I did. You can do what you like with those people.

So, exclusivity is another way we’re slightly different. And that applies not only to the recruitment work that we do, but also our Competitive or Market Intelligence work. So, for example, a client may pay us to find out the salary and benefit structure for software engineers in Minneapolis. We conduct primary research to obtain information not available publicly to get the structures, the salary levels, the long-term incentive plans – all those things – and pass that information on to our client. Now, in theory, we could take that same information and sell it to every other software company in Minnesota, but we don’t. We’ve already been paid for that work in full. We didn’t charge that client a quarter of the fee because we thought we’d sell it to three other people. We charge them our fee and we give them our information and we never use that information again for anybody else.

We don’t charge extra – we came across that [Employer Brand and industry] information while doing the work for them, so we just include it, and I don’t know of any other recruitment agencies who do that.

Also, going back to the recruitment work – you know, let’s say we’re recruiting for a role typically the thing will be, we’ll present six to eight people to the client and they’ll whittle that down to three or four people they want to interview and take the role from there. We’ve probably spoken to 20 people, maybe 25, to get to the six people we present to the client. And we’ve learned a similar set of information from each of them, such as where they’ve come from, what their experiences are, the way their company is structured. We present that work to our client, always, with every recruitment job we do. We put up a talent dashboard and show them the information, and we’ll give them a rundown on how those 25 people view their company. Are they an attractive company? Is there a problem with that company? All those sorts of things are invaluable to companies. Because they don’t know what those people think of them, what we call Employer Brand Intelligence. And it’s hard to get that sort of brand feedback. We don’t charge extra – we came across that information while doing the work for them, so we just include it, and I don’t know of any other recruitment agencies who do that.

The thing that always gets nods and approval is breaking with the percentage of salary model – no one who is paying for a search likes to hear they are paying for 30% of someone’s salary. So that fixed-fee model is always something that’s well received. They also like the effort up front to be more surgical in their search, more efficient. Because everybody wants that time back and wants to fill roles as quickly as they can. The thing that people don’t like is that we don’t do it on a contingent basis. We don’t do the work and then, if we fill the position, we get paid. We do require a fee, but we will do individual searches, we do open role searches.

These clients can have a vacancy come up and literally three days later, they’ve already got a replacement.

Where we go for a monthly fee is more when we’re doing a longer-term engagement, like talent pipelining or succession planning. That’s where we’ll charge a monthly fee, because you’re continually refreshing a talent pool of potential candidates and you’re being proactive about vacancies you know will arise. And so, these clients can have a vacancy come up and literally three days later, they’ve already got a replacement. And this ties into the question about clients thinking they don’t want to pay a monthly fee – that they want to pay just for placements. Because the client should be able to tell us: “We have this many roles a year,” and so they’re able to work out for themselves, “We pay far less if we pay Talent Intelligence $25,000 per month and we spread that across the 16 vacancies that we have each year that we need to fill. Rather than the $800,000 we spent on search fees, the previous year. So, it shouldn’t be a challenge for us to explain to someone why it’s good value to do it our way – with our talent pipeline or succession planning. We just get them to reflect on their own data, to see that not only are they paying less in fees, but they’re also cutting down on the loss of productivity caused by open positions. And that’s more ephemeral – you can’t pin a number on it necessarily, but you know that by having open roles, you’re not being as productive as you would be if every role were filled.

There’s a lot more focus on data, which is why we so heavily promote our research and analytical tools. The other thing is, because it’s no longer a case of “Put your ad in the paper and wait for responses,” people expect to hit the ground running and see the first four candidates next week, rather than in a month’s time. Speed of turnover is increasing, obviously, with The Great Resignation, but people also expect much greater speed of response. We have seen companies with recruiters who often have 40 open roles that they’re dealing with at any one time – which is crazy. There’s no way anyone can keep up with that.

We’re seeing talent acquisition people are pushing to have more external help from recruitment consultants like us.

It’s a real challenge when budgets for talent acquisition and management are often not huge, even in large organizations. You’ve got to spend money to be able to recruit the right talent. The expectation is that all the information is out there, so why shouldn’t talent acquisition people be able to fill more and more roles – but actually there’s a limit to how much you can do. We’re seeing talent acquisition people are pushing to have more external help from recruitment consultants like us.

Our Competitive Intelligence tools show us that a lot of people are looking for companies they can be proud to work for, companies that represent them. The old school hierarchies and ways of working are a huge turn off. So, diversity and inclusion are a big focus – and flexibility. You know, not just the hot topic of ‘in the office or not in the office,’ but the question of fully remote, or not fully remote – two days a week, or four days a week. Starting times, finishing times – all those elements play into flexibility consideration.

The company has to be able to provide you with the tools to make that transition from what you’re doing to the next level up.

For everybody – or almost everybody – it’s also a career path. Where is a position going to go? What could you possibly do next in your organization? Is the company providing you with a development track? So yes, you can take an equivalent role to the role your boss is in, but also, is there guidance and development to get you there? It can’t be incumbent on you, as an individual, to educate yourself and improve yourself. The company has to be able to provide you with the tools to make that transition from what you’re doing to the next level up. I think if people can’t see that demonstrated when they’re working for a company, that’s a huge turn off. And then the other area increasingly emerging – that I alluded to with flexibility – is work-life balance. It’s been a topic of discussion for 20 years maybe, but it’s certainly becoming a much hotter topic. If you can roll all that together into your employer brand, that’s great. The next bit is, “How do you get that message out there?”

Companies have to be able to communicate to the outside world, and their employees internally, that this is how they operate, this is what they consist of. We call this Employer Brand Intelligence. If we can get into the specifics, we can really identify what the great things are about an organization and put that into the role profile we communicate to candidates. This way, we’re directly talking to the employer brand and the reason they may want to work for this company. If somebody is worth spending the money to recruit, then you’re not the only one trying to recruit them. This means, not only have you got to provide them with a role they’re looking for – and they could probably pick maybe seven or eight different companies where that role exists – but you have to persuade them to take that role at your company, not somewhere else.

We hope to develop role profiles that sell the company that we can take out and communicate to the world.

I think there’s a real light switch moment when we’re talking to our clients, where they understand yes, you can tell them about the role; you can tell them about the qualifications that they need. But what you really need to tell them about is why they should come and work for you. You’re not just choosing between six different candidates – you’re competing to attract those candidates and then persuade them this is the best place to work. The higher up you go, the more you’ve got to persuade this person you’re that company. That’s our role in it, and we hope to develop role profiles that sell the company that we can take out and communicate to the world. Not broadcast communication, but individually talking to someone about the role and persuading them to talk to this organization.

Well, the Great Resignation, or the Great Reshuffle – whatever everyone’s calling it now – that really is the most significant talent risk at the senior level, for larger organizations. And then at other levels, it’s really just a lack of employees, and a lack of people that are looking for work. The number of open roles is significantly higher at lower levels than the number of people looking for work. So, wages are going up, which is great for people – not so great for the organization.

It’s the risk of losing people, which then means the time and expense of recruiting people, and the lost productivity.

But I think there’s a sort of stratification there. Once you get above middle management level, it’s not that there’s a shortage of people, it’s the risk of losing people, which then means the time and expense of recruiting people, and the lost productivity. Clearly, we’re going to see fallout from the debate around returning to the office, over the next two or three months, also. When companies are polled, it tends to look like 15% of workers will be remote, and when employees are polled, 76% of people don’t want to go back to the office. There’s a huge mismatch there, and it’s going to be very interesting to see where that falls out.

I think everyone should be aware of their talent risk and have a succession plan ready. Going back to what I said before, everybody is available at the moment to be picked off right now. We’ve had a lockdown for two and a half years. Not that many people have moved during the first year to 18 months. And so, there’s this huge pent-up feeling, I think, of people who just want to move. Everyone is ready for a change – even if really what they want to change is the whole pandemic. They can’t do anything about that, but they can change their jobs.

I think companies need to assess that risk, consider who is at risk, and ensure they have coverage for all those positions.

I think companies need to assess that risk, consider who is at risk, and ensure they have coverage for all those positions. Ask the questions: “Can we, in short order, replace them, so that we don’t lose productivity, and can we do it quickly?” Because the problem can kind of snowball. Once people start leaving, the general and administrative function comes under pressure. If it can’t keep up, you’re replacing people, but other people are leaving and they’re not being replaced. You’ve got to ensure you have got successors in place, or at least identified, so you can move quickly when people leave. And then you’ve got to keep an eye on all the things we talked about, about employer brand and competitive intelligence. Particularly, are you monitoring what your competitors in your industry or your geography are doing about returning to the office? Because if you’re not aligned with businesses in your location or industry, and you don’t offer the same flexibility and inclusion policies, you’re going to lose out.