As the pandemic has clearly shown us, the demand for talent and certain skills is rarely predictable or linear. There may be a sudden shift in the supply chain, the need for products may change suddenly, or new technology will raise the need for a particular skill. There may be a sudden need to add or reduce dozens or hundreds of employees.
Recruiters are now asked to perform at requisition levels that are heavy and demanding while the supply is constrained and skills difficult to recruit. What is the solution?
Traditional workforce planning has assumed that there are always enough workers available at a salary the firm is willing to pay. Workforce planning has focused almost exclusively on external recruiting and has relied on a just-in-time approach to finding talent. While this may work well for manufacturing or retail, it has proven to be a poor strategy for recruiting. It would be far better to forecast needs and have a pipeline of talent identified, qualified, ready, and willing to work for your firm. Even simply knowing where the talent you might need is located would shorten the time to hire.
Internal mobility strategies and career pathing should be part of any forecasting process but are often not the recruiters’ responsibilities. A few organizations invest in developing talent pools, but they are static, traditional, and largely backward-looking. They focus on replacing existing positions for predictable growth in known areas.
The shortage of unanticipated talent and the need to find people with skills never needed before has forced many organizations to look at talent needs more seriously. The people they need may not exist, or they may be tough to find. Sometimes they are available but in far corners of the globe, and sometimes the time needed to find and recruit becomes too long.
An effective talent forecasting process should focus on the following areas:
#1. Market awareness and talent intelligence to better identify trends and where people with key skills are located
#2. Talent analytics where the focus is placed on identifying key skills and integrating employee development, internal mobility, and recruiting
#3, Scenario planning and dynamic modeling to help focus activity and justify investments in a variety of approaches
#4. Active and continuous candidate relationship building
#1: Market Awareness and Talent Intelligence
The pandemic has intensified the need for better anticipation and preparation for major changes in the talent market. Workforce planners need to be aware of business, economic, political, demographic, social changes, and trends. They need to anticipate and predict the skills needed and be agile enough to find this talent quickly. While it is not possible to anticipate all possible needs, it is possible to use analytics and trend research to narrow down possibilities and develop sourcing strategies.
Keeping tabs on who has potentially needed critical skills and where they are located is a differentiator in how successful your recruiting will be. Mapping available talent and fully understanding how difficult it will be to recruit this talent will provide the inputs to calculate whether a development program would be more cost-effective than a recruiting approach or what combination would be most economical and effective.
Talent supply data is the most difficult information for a recruiter to get today. It is almost impossible to know how many people with a particular skill are in the market. However, by data mining job boards, searching social media, looking at college graduation figures, and using data from the organization's own recruiting website and internal employee population, it is possible to estimate the supply and point out likely deficiencies.
There are many tools to aid this process aided by artificial intelligence. Sophisticated candidate relationship tools are improving and provide a wealth of data on potential candidates.
# 2: Systems Integration Approach
In a market where certain skills may not exist at all or where they are very scarce, recruiting cannot do its job alone. In many cases, it may be possible to find the skills needed internally, or it may make more sense economically to develop internal or external people to meet those needs.
An integrated systems approach involves merging employee development, internal mobility, candidate relationship building, talent marketing, recruiting, retention activities, talent analytics, and succession planning.
Removing talent supply from the sole responsibility of recruiting to encompass a broader set of functions allows more comprehensive thinking. For example, when a need for a position or a new skill-set arises, rather than immediately opening a requisition, the hiring manager, along with a talent manager, would go through a process of looking at internal talent, modeling the costs and time involved in training someone for the position, predicting the available supply and time to recruit and train someone. They would also determine if a gig worker might be better than a full-time employee.
They would explore several options and use data to guide a final decision.
#3: Scenario Planning and Dynamic Modeling
Although scenario planning is no longer new, having been around since the 1960s, it is rarely used in recruiting or HR.
Scenario planning, sometimes simplistically referred to as what-if planning, looks at a variety of economic and business trends and other factors that have been identified as possibly impacting the supply of talent. Using different sets of factors, scenario planners develop possible future scenarios and recommended responses to meet the supply challenge.
By including in this process some of the data analysis and mathematical modeling tools available, a talent manager could project, for example, the benefits of training over hiring or of the value of one source of candidate over another based on turnover and time to productivity. Over the next few years, analysis, modeling, and integrated planning will become common in recruiting.
#4. Active and Continuous Candidate Relationship Building
Organizations will need to develop far more sophisticated marketing campaigns to interest potential candidates to attract talent. Static and unexciting career sites will have to give way to dynamic, personalized sites that generate interest and bring people back for engaging content. This will need to be coupled with social media and personalized messaging. Tailored and carefully thought-out content will be essential to attract and engage women and minorities.
The best organizations will add a dedicated marketing component to their recruiting function and focus heavily on attraction and engagement.
Anticipating and planning for various possible skills and locating potential talent will be an integral part of any successful recruiting function. It will greatly enhance the ability of the organization to have the talent it needs available when and where it is needed.
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