Frequently Asked Questions

Below is our expandable list of frequently asked questions. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the form below if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

What is TalentSum?

TalentSum is a talent acquisition consultancy and best practices implementation firm committed to helping our clients achieve sustainable results all across their talent acquisition landscape. We bring a depth of expertise in strategy, marketing, advisory services, technology, sourcing, and analytics to improve performance and outcomes, reduce costs, leverage technology, and transform their ability to attract, engage and hire their people.

Companies partner with TalentSum to evolve and adapt to the rapidly changing talent acquisition environment, create a real competitive advantage for the business, transform their ability to attract and engage candidates that fit, build teams of highly engaged employees, and deliver high-performing culture.

Our approach is very different from the traditional recruitment firm model. We don’t drive our business model with a focus on high-fee recruiting. Instead, we rely on a much more consultative approach and work alongside our clients as a full parter with complete transparency to drive long-term talent acquisition success.

Here’s how we frame the business:

  • Strategic Consulting
    We help you align talent strategy with business goals, seize opportunities for improving talent acquisition, and define roadmaps to get you there.
  • Data & Analytics
    We help you understand candidates and employees by collecting, organizing and optimizing data into insights you can use to drive long-lasting value.
  • Talent Technology
    We help you choose, implement and maintain talent acquisition technology platforms and tools to stay current with ever-changing environments.
  • Agency Services
    We combine technology and real people with hard-hitting marketing, scalable support programs, and flexible services to serve in-house teams.

Think of us as your rapid-response team – a mix of seasoned talent professionals, data analysts and researchers, marketers and strategists, sourcing specialists, technologists and innovators – set up to improve the way talent acquisition work is done. We’ll help you to improve your ability to attract top people while reducing expenses and time to hire.

We do all of this because we believe strategic talent acquisition creates a real competitive advantage for the business, supports the objectives of talent leaders, hiring managers and recruiting professionals, and can lead to highly engaged employees and high-performing cultures.

Whether you need advice and assistance to get work done, consulting to implement leading practices, hard-hitting marketing or scalable POS/RPO to extend in-house capacity, or additional people to augment your team, TalentSum is here for you.

  • Our Services – list of some of the most popular services we offer.
  • Focus Areas – list of all the types of problems we solve as a company.
  • TalentSum Pro – our talent acquisition support plan that scales up/down.
  • TALENTSUM 360 – our objective talent acquisition assessment.
  • TalentSum Blog – our own blog on trends, tactics and tools for TA leaders.
  • Contact us – our address, phone and form to reach out.

What does TalentSum provide?

We provide Talent Acquisition Consulting, Talent Acquisition Advisory, and Talent Acquisition Implementation Services to emerging companies, middle market, and large organizations.

Our efforts center on strategy setting through implementation – in the areas of organizational and resource alignment, modernization and departmental transformation, operational performance, candidate engagement, and technology implementation and optimization.

From ad-hoc team support and specialists projects to managed programs and supplemental support – we’ll help you build up a modern talent acquisition and hiring approach so you can deliver better outcomes, experiences and value for your organization.

Think of us as your rapid-response team – a mix of seasoned talent professionals, researchers, marketers, strategists, technologists and innovators – set up to improve the way talent acquisition work is done.

We’ve been called a “heavy lifter” more than once – because a lot of what we do is tackle challenges related to infrastructure and change. We’re perfectly content working with our clients behind the scenes – helping them to manage the gaps, handle overflow, execute projects, improve workflows, and optimize their talent acquisition department.

We can help you in the following ways:

  • we provide you with fresh insights through an objective assessment (TALENTSUM 360).
  • we partner with you to help set strategy and plans through our support program (TalentSum Pro).
  • we help you to define, implement, and deliver special projects and solutions.
  • we serve as a natural extension of your team to manage ongoing streams of work.
  • we augment or extend your core, in-house team with additional FT/PT resources.

Learn more about our Services and Focus Areas.

Internally, our team focuses on delivering three key value propositions:

1 – Providing the MOST EFFECTIVE SOLUTION for employers and hiring managers to stand out with a strong employer brand, attract more people who fit, improve engagement and experiences, and deliver high-performing cultures.

2 – Delivering a COST-EFFECTIVE PARTNER, or rapid-response team, to help improve the way talent acquisition work is done.

3 – Utilizing research, data, and analytics to deliver SPECIALIZED INSIGHTS to act on.

What problem does TalentSum solve?

Taken as a whole, TalentSum helps clients achieve improvements all across their talent acquisition landscape. The firm brings a depth of expertise in strategy, marketing, advisory services, technology, sourcing, and analytics to help companies improve performance and outcomes, transform the enterprise, reduce costs, and deliver a real competitive advantage.

Leaders in talent acquisition partner with TalentSum to evolve and adapt to the rapidly changing talent acquisition environment, leverage technology related to building up a modern approach, hone and improve their ability to attract and engage more candidates that fit – all to deliver teams of highly engaged employees and a high-performing culture.

We frame our work with the following six (6) interconnected areas in mind:

Talent Data and Strategy – First, we help you collect, or build up, talent data and we work with you to translate it into actionable insights. We’ll use those insights improve your ability to attract, engage and hire the right talented people – not just anyone.

Brand Activation – With the right data and insights, we’ll build up (or validate) a strong employer brand and compelling value proposition. The goal is to establish an authentic set of attraction and engagement messages to stand out from the competition and connect with those you want to hire most.

Recruitment Marketing – With your employer brand, value propositions, and messages all united, it’s time to share your organization with the world and begin to connect, attract, and engage with potential candidates using best practice marketing, including: candidate marketing, career websites, optimized content, social media and more.

Recruitment and Hiring Optimization – There are times when old approaches, systems, and processes need to be streamlined or made new. Our team has the knowledge and expertise required to help you to design, optimize or modernize all across your talent acquisition landscape.

Technology and Tools – Implementing the right solution can be a real challenge. We’re set up to help guide your team through the comparison process. And we can even support or take over implementation or maintenance of hundreds of useful talent acquisition and HR technologies used to analyze, brand, engage, source, recruit, hire and on-board.

Pipeline Development and Sourcing – And if that’s not enough, we’re also set up to help you source for more talent and prepare for what comes next. Our people can work with you to shortlist candidates, build pipelines of talent, gather intel from potential candidates and more.

Why does TalentSum do the work it does?

We believe that acquiring the right talent and keeping people engaged and committed is the most important set of actions an organization can take to build their business and improve results. We believe that better opportunities and a brighter future comes from attracting, engaging and hiring the right people – and that an optimized talent acquisition approach can be a real business driver and bring true competitive advantage.

But if that’s not enough, we do this work because helping companies transform their company through people is exactly what we want to be doing with our time.

Loosely interpreted, our mission is to “unsuck” every workplace on earth. To accomplish our mission, three (3) things need to happen:

  1. companies need to become healthy and more attractive places to work
  2. employers need to be able to attract, hire and keep all the right people on board
  3. people need to be able to find and stay connected to the best work for them

Who started TalentSum and why?

Christopher Mengel has always wanted to “unsuck” the workplace.

It’s long been his view that far too many employer brand signals are weak or unclear (or even misleading) and that this makes it hard for employers and candidates to stand out and connect. Most employers are not able to accurately define the right character traits, attributes, and behaviors that are required to help people thrive and perform in their companies, cultures, teams, or roles. And even when they can, many still are not able to translate insights into strategy and compelling messaging to attract and engage the kind of talented people they want to hire most.

Over time, Christopher noticed that the field of recruiting was beginning to take on many of the same characteristics that he saw in marketing, including optimized job content, candidate marketing and nurturing, research-driven sourcing, employer-based social media, and more. Added to this, many employers were beginning to rail against standard high, third-party search fees.

In 2014, Christopher determined that in order to have the impact he wanted to have in the workplace he would need to combine his data analysis, recruiting, and marketing talents and skills and focus them around three pillars or ideas:

  1. all companies should want to become healthy and more attractive places to work.
  2. it should be easier for all hiring managers to attract, hire and keep all the right people on board.
  3. most people do want the opportunity to thrive and deliver their best work.

Christopher figured if he built up an offering around a more strategic approach to talent acquisition, he could save employers money, save hiring managers time and pain, dramatically improve the workplace for most candidates, and introduce a real competitive advantage to the business.

After two pivots, Christopher launched TalentSum LLC. The firm was incorporated in 2017.

About Christopher

Christopher is a veteran entrepreneur with 20+ years experience building and working at the intersection of marketing and talent acquisition. TalentSum is the third talent acquisition firm Christopher has founded.

Christopher has also founded other businesses (strategy consulting, marketing services, Web design, visual/product search advertising) and has held several key senior leadership roles (in both private and public companies) with responsibility across Marketing and Sales, Operations, Business Development and Talent Acquisition.

Christopher has personally led well over 100 marketing and/or talent acquisition-related client engagements in more than 50 companies across more than a dozen industries.

In addition, Christopher has considerable experience building and working within the staffing/recruitment industry. Over the years, he has helped multiple CEOs found and/or grow their own temporary staffing firms, recruitment process outsourcing firms, government contracting firms, outsourced recruitment firms, executive search firms, contingency search firms, and IT staff augmentation firms.

What kind of companies hire TalentSum?

We’re typically hired by C-level executives inside emerging or growth companies, middle market firms, and large organizations (or divisions of larger firms) with between 50-8000 employees.

Most of the time, these companies are looking to either modernize in-house recruitment capabilities and/or talent acquisition functions to attract, engage and hire even more of the right candidates – or they want to reduce their dependence on using traditional third-party search agencies and their high success fees. Understanding “best in class” (across culture, performance and role/job) is a problem they all seem to have – regardless of firm size.

We see ourselves as a true partner with companies to improve attraction and candidate quality, shorten time-to-hire, free up internal staff, and possibly even lower reliance on 3rd-party agencies.

There are six primary ways we engage with our clients:

What is TalentSum Pro?

Think of TalentSum Pro as your strategically-minded, extra set of hands  – a mixture of seasoned business professionals, marketers, strategists, technologists, recruiters and innovators – set up to help you get more work done faster and improve results along the way. It’s perfect for talent leaders, hiring managers and over-extended teams looking for specialist support or advisory assistance in the design and optimization of the operating model.

How does TalentSum Pro work? We start with an assessment, kickoff meeting, and discovery session. We use our first hours together to discuss your most critical issues and to determine where our team can have the most impact. Then we work with you to build a brighter future with better talent acquisition. Learn more about our TalentSum Pro plan.

What comes with TalentSum Pro? This plan was designed to help you solve complex issues, guide best practice and/or to support DIY efforts. It includes full team support via phone, text, email or by cloud-based collaboration tools.

Can TalentSum Pro be upgraded or expanded? Yes! We’ve designed a step-wise approach to support your needs and grow with you over time. Here’s how a new relationship with TalentSum can evolve over time:

We start with TalentSum Pro plan and use our time together to assist you in the strategic design and optimization of your operating model. As involvement expands, we can provide you with additional hours (“pay-per-use”). We can work this way with you for as little or as long as you need or want.

Over time, as your needs go up and down, we can adapt with you. To match your needs, we can draft SOWs and deliver project consulting services to implement leading practices. Or we can work with you to design and implement managed programs to extend your in-house capacity. We can also add hourly sourcing to further operationalize your hiring function, resulting in an even shorter time to hire and no disruption to your current team. We can even support the deployment of additional people with contract services to help round out your existing team.

What if I want to cancel TalentSum Pro? Not a problem, TalentSum operates on a monthly basis, so you can cancel at any time with a 30 day notice period.

What about set up fees? There are no setup fees, hidden fees, or surprises of any kind. You can cancel at any time – and even pause your account and re-activate it later.  We’re happy to work with you for as long or as little as you want or need.

How do we recognize revenue?

We generate our revenues from providing professional services under the following types of billing arrangements: fixed-fee engagements, time-and-expense engagements, performance-based arrangements, support and maintenance, and recurring service subscriptions.

In fixed-fee billing arrangements, we agree to a pre-established fee in exchange for a predetermined set of professional services. We set the fees based on our estimates of the costs and timing for completing the engagements.

Time-and-expense billing arrangements require the client to pay based on the number of hours worked by our revenue-generating professionals at agreed upon rates. Time-and-expense arrangements also include certain speaking engagements, conferences, and publication orders purchased by our clients.

In performance-based billing arrangements, fees are tied to the attainment of contractually defined objectives. We enter into performance-based engagements in essentially two forms. First, we generally earn fees that are directly related to the savings formally acknowledged by the client as a result of adopting our recommendations for improving operational and cost effectiveness in the areas we review. Second, we have performance-based engagements in which we earn a success fee when and if certain pre-defined outcomes occur.

(NOTE: The level of performance-based fees earned may vary based on our clients’ risk sharing preferences and the mix of services we provide.)

We also generate revenue from support, maintenance and recurring service subscriptions to TalentSum Pro.

(Note: We are vendor-neutral and do not push one product over another and make our recommendations based on what’s best for our clients. Many vendors offer incentives so consultants choose their solutions. Because of this – and to keep our recommendations true and transparent – we do not accept financial incentives. We offer pure consulting without bias or outside influences.)

Do you offer anything for FREE?

Yes! Our newsletter is free. So is our blog content. We’ll also jump into a 30 minute phone conversation with you. All of that is free.

Tell me about your Talent Acquisition Assessment

For those who don’t know where to start, we recommend TALENTSUM 360, our talent acquisition assessment. It’s ideally suited for organizations that know they need help, but don’t exactly know where yet. It is designed to provide your team with objective feedback, fresh insights and a priority roadmap to get you moving in the right direction. We rely on it to validate or support your RFP development and in-house talent acquisition planning, or to help architect a well-organized roadmap of future projects.

Tell me about your Talent Acquisition Research Study.

Everything we do starts with data. Our team is constantly doing “deep-dives” into what it takes for companies to become great at attracting, engaging and hiring people. Learn more at

A few of the critical questions we’re looking to answer include:

  • How can we make our company more visible and attractive to target audiences?
  • How can we communicate a strong employer brand and compelling value proposition to those we want to hire most?
  • How can we attract, engage and hire new talent, and create a high-performance culture?
  • What strategies, trends and technologies can we embrace to achieve our goals across talent acquisition?
  • What do people value most when looking at places to work like ours?
  • Why do people choose to work – and remain engaged and committed – at their current place of employment?

Do you provide any à la carte services?

Yes. We provide ad-hoc hourly support through our TalentSum Pro plan. From there, we’re set up to grow with your needs in the following step-wise fashion:

Let’s say you just want to get to know us first. We’ll jump on the phone – or do a video chat – to discuss your challenges and goals. From there, we can continue to guide and support your ongoing efforts from the outside – or we can jump in and help you tackle special projects such as: designing a new talent strategy, building up new survey-led insights, strengthening the employer brand and EVP, delivering a new career site, choosing or implementing a new technology or a marketing-led platform, and so on.

When the time is right, we can take over entire work streams, including: content marketing, sourcing, prescreen or interview support, and more – or add supplemental support personnel to your existing team.

(Note: We DO NOT engage in “pay-to-play” agreements with technology vendors. While we have our strong opinions, we always work hard to remain technology-agnostic and back into the right set of solutions for our clients. While vendors tout their flexible nature, we’ve found every client need is slightly different – and because of this, we prefer to back into the right technology based on the individual client situation. Yes, we are aware this might leave considerable money on the table. But doing business this way helps to keep the focus on solving our clients’ needs first.)

Learn more about our capabilities. Learn more about our our services.

Tell me about your Sourcing Programs

Sourcing is the finding (or identifying) and initial engagement of larger groups of non-applicants, with the end goal of turning at least some of them into applicants. “Proactive sourcing” or “Strategic sourcing” or “social sourcing” can be used to build out longer-term initiatives such as creating talent networks and candidate pipelines with the purposes of building a relationship with many people for the longer term.

Sourcing through TalentSum is similar to purchasing a retained search service but at a more transparent and manageable rate, and without the high success fee at the end. Consider TalentSum as your Sourcing RPO Partner, or if you’re only making a few hires, consider Lite Sourcing Support to support your efforts.

Learn more about our capabilities and our services or contact us to learn how we can customize sourcing for you.

Tell us about your Product Lab

We have considerable past experience building across advertising, content marketing, media, and recruitment marketing – and it’s our current belief that recruiting is starting to look more like these every day. Especially marketing.

Take a moment to consider:

  • analytics and data analysis is more like market research than recruitment
  • employer branding is more like marketing than recruitment
  • sourcing (both strategic and social) is very closely related to marketing research
  • most of the work done in attracting and engaging talented people requires a heck of a lot of marketing
  • writing job descriptions that attract and engage requires marketing skills
  • value proposition design and validation is (in our opinion) closer to marketing and branding than recruiting

The way we recruit is evolving, and we think there are many opportunities in this space to innovate. It’s also a great way for us to create pipeline audiences of talented candidates that we can introduce to our clients.

Learn more about our products here.

Do you offer retained search services?

Our team (and founder) has completed hundreds of contingency and retained searches over the years – and we believe we’re quite good at it. We can step in to help you stop the bleeding, but our longer-term preference is always to develop a true partnership with you – one not led by the traditional high success fee approach.

Providing reasonable fees and a true consulting partnership forces us to shift our business model to align more with your real needs and objectives. We understand passing up high fees leaves a lot of money on the table, but working to secure high placement success fees is not our core mission.

All that said, there are times when it absolutely makes sense to help a client out in this manner. Our unique approach and hourly billing and/or flat-fee approach ensures complete transparency and creates an environment that holds the entire team accountable to results. Plus, in most cases it delivers exceptional hires for less than 50% of the cost of traditional contingency search.

To read what why we believe “recruiting” needs to change, you can read our views here, here and here.

Have questions? Let’s talk.

Want to discuss anything at all? Please use the contact form below.