Using Talent Analytics to Identify the Right Fit

Jennifer ScalziTechnology

By: Kate Harry Shipham

Hearing fresh perspectives and benefiting from colleagues sharing their research is a highlight of each year’s Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference. Last week, in Austin, Texas, was no different. This year I attended a session that hit particularly close to home. The topic: using statistical analysis and a structured framework for hiring. What I heard that day connected the dots on a number of key themes that are so important to us at JJES, namely defining what “talent” means and utilizing that rubric to manage and retain the best professionals within the legal marketing space.

Bruce Sevy, Managing Director at Chally Group, a GrowthPlay Company, delivered “Transforming the Sales Process Through Talent Analytics,” advocating the use of analytics in hiring people. Bruce talked about this from the perspective of hiring quality sales professionals (and the cost to an organization in hiring ineffective sales professionals), but the concepts in this topic coincide nicely with what we do and how we guide and advise our clients.

The most fundamental – and simple – premise that resonated with me was the following: in every team, at every organization, there are significant differences in performance. Superbly simple, and this can ever be overstated.

Why does this occur?  Because performance is based on who does that role. Using statistical analysis, Bruce showed his audience the organizational impact based on where a professional’s performance sits on a bell curve.  And, he brought these principals back to what he called the three T’s of capacity: tools, training, and talent.  It’s this last capacity, “talent,” that JJES deals with every day.

So – what determines an individual’s performance? Bruce argued that every sales person in an organization has access to the same tools and training.  What differs is the actual talent of that individual person. It flows therefore that while investment in tools and training has a return, talent drives how successful (or not) a specific professional will be within that organization.

And this is where these concepts really stuck with me.  We advise clients and are constantly talking to the market about the importance of the right professional to add to their team.  This data-driven session supports this idea entirely.  And, while I could go into the costs of the impact of the wrong hire, for me, the more important realization was that many factors which equated to “talent” related to softer skills; motivations, drivers, emotional maturity, and character.

Measuring this type of talent is infinitely challenging, but analytics around these factors can help, and some of our leading law firms do incorporate them into their hiring and talent management policies through behavioral assessments, cognitive assessments and strength-finders.

At JJES, we constantly see how applying a more structured approach to the “harder to measure” qualities adds immense value and makes sense given how differently individuals will perform. Our years of experience have reaffirmed that there is more to a good fit than meeting a position’s requirements and now there are numbers to help back that up. Putting these into effect – and finding the right balance between quantitative and qualitative assessment – is no small challenge. But making a decision without all the right information could be an even bigger one.

Kate Harry Shipham is a Senior Recruiting Manager at J. Johnson Executive Search, Inc and is based in Chicago.  Kate works with clients all across the U.S. on positions mostly at the Manager level and above.  Kate can be reached at