Solving Talent Scarcity with Better Design

Solving Talent Scarcity with Better Design

Corporate recruiting has evolved over many decades and is a jumble of habits, ideas, assumptions, and practices. There has been little effort spent to test them for their validity or efficiency.

If we believe, as I do, that good designs make life easier, more efficient, and more productive and that bad designs cause frustration, stress, dissatisfaction, and lead to mistakes, then we need to deeply examine and redesign our recruiting functions to solve talent problems, not just recruit.

Deliberate Design

Design can happen in an evolutionary and haphazard way, as it has for corporate recruiting, or we can deliberately design. Deliberate design involves challenging assumptions, learning more about the customer, developing and testing a variety of approaches to find the best one, and then implementing and continually improving that design.

Some practitioners think a deliberate design approach would be prescriptive and limit the variety of methods and practices and eliminate experimentation.

But a good design minimizes these limits by building in safeguards. Design thinking requires us to redefine what we do in broader terms that allow for experimentation and avoids prescriptive solutions. For example, we might start by stating that recruiters do not fill requisitions, they do not source candidates, and they do not screen and assess.

What they do is to solve talent problems and make it easier for the organization to achieve its business goals.

This is big. It requires recruiters to identify and solve talent problems - even when those solutions are not about recruiting. For example, it might be better to develop people for a particular position rather than hire externally. Or it might be wiser to invest in a gig worker rather than hire a full-time regular one.

Design thinking means that you think bigger and more strategically about the business. You understand the business environment, the long term prospects for your industry, and the immediate business issues that hiring managers face. And, it means involving hiring managers in the design process.

Data Analytics

Data analytics has to be a part of any recruitment design. More and more organizations are using data analytics, for example, to determine whether it is more efficient to hire a replacement for a position or to train someone internally. The decision is made on data, not on the opinions of HR or managers.

Some organizations are calculating the impact one person has on profits versus another person with a different profile.

Some are looking at the attributes of successful performers and tying their findings back into the recruitment assessment process.

In all cases, data is the key to good design. The more you know about your organizations, your candidates, past successes and failures, the costs involved, and the impact of technology, the better your final design.

Collaborative Talent Problem Solving

The 21st-century organization is already smaller than were organizations of the past, and more people are working independently than ever. There is a growing emphasis on collaborative networks, which is another way to say team learning and systems thinking. One of the best examples of this is when people are working together in an environment where sharing is essential to success, where anything held back or not exposed might derail the outcome, and where diverse inputs are solicited and incorporated into the solution. More and more work is project-based where these conditions are a given.

New software tools, social networks, blogs, as well as the Internet itself and the ability to work virtually, are accelerating the trend away from functional silos and dis-integrated work toward much more holistic and harmonious work teams.

The complexity of hiring the right skills grows, but by designing a collaborative approach, involving multiple partners from hiring managers to recruiters, HR generalists, candidates, and employees, can help bring new and better solutions to the scarcity of talent.

Good design is about superior results and less frustration. It’s worth the effort.


Why Design Thinking Works

Excellent HBR article that addresses the biases and behaviors that hamper innovation.

What Is Design Thinking? (video)

This video will give you a better understanding of what design thinking is all about.

A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking — Stanford

This is a collection of our most frequently sought after introductory
learning experiences. Please note that as of May 1st, 2019, the Virtual
Crash Course Video will no longer be available. A new crash course is in
the works and planned for a Fall 2019 launch. In the meantime, the Gift
Giving Worksheet, the Design Thinking Bootleg, and other resources in the
collection are still available!

How We Used Design Thinking To Redesign Recruiting & Onboarding | BG

Empathize; define; ideate; prototype; test: We used design thinking to revamp the experience of our recruits and new hires.

About This Newsletter

Hand curated articles, videos, podcasts, and other media on the future of work, talent, recruitment, and learning. If you find this useful, please share on Twitter. You can always reach me at

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