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The Gift of Uncertainty for Talent Acquisition

Traveling last week, I had a conversation with a Lyft driver about Uber expanding its fleet with 24,000 driverless Volvos. She appreciates the freedom that having a ride-share gig provides and her ability to pursue directing documentary films. We talked about her concerns about how she can continue to fund her work as these fleets become truly driverless.  

Beyond the ridesharing industry, there is much more uncertainty to come. Within the next 15 years, according to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, nearly 15% of the global workforce may need to switch jobs. By 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers will change occupation categories while another 400 to 800 million could be displaced by automation and required to find new jobs entirely.  

Uncertainty has never been great for business, and the ways in which corporations are impacted by social unrest, the political environment, environmental catastrophes, and technological change affects employees. Organizations can’t afford to wait to see how things work out; they need to perform every day. Rather than stopping on the path, corporations are building a bridge of agility and resiliency to cross the canyon. Though it’s rigorous terrain, this uncertainty can also be a gift.

Through the Institute for Corporate Productivity’s (i4cp) research, conversations with our Talent Acquisition Leaders Board, other i4cp members, and our Search Reimagined practice, we found that talent acquisition leaders must have three capabilities to be successful:

1. Link the talent strategy to the business strategy

When a company aligns its people strategy to it business strategy, it is more likely to achieve its objectives, increase market performance, and retain high-performing talent. Having a clear understanding of the business objectives, critical business processes, and differentiators in the marketplace help identify organizational capabilities and talent implications. Talent leaders need to create specific actionable plans aligned to the business strategy and annual business initiatives. For each objective, they need to determine where the company needs to attract, acquire, develop, and retain talent.

2. Building the talent acquisition machine (that doesn’t feel like a machine)

Building the talent acquisition machine is more than creating infrastructure and process. It also requires the ability to assess if the process and infrastructure support the growth many organizations are experiencing, and measuring quality or impact of such processes.

Predictive talent acquisition analytics and metrics are necessary to compete in the war for talent. Dashboards are evolving to measure impact of talent long term and D&I recruiting effectiveness. With the evolution of human capital analytics guiding the conversation in human resources toward data-driven solutions, predictive talent acquisition is at the forefront. The increasing use of AI, chatbots, and emerging technologies at the top of the TA funnel are appearing in both mature global organizations and startups.

According to i4cp’s research, high-performance organizations are 5x more likely to report using new technologies, such as virtual reality, and apps that allow them to record and share a first-person view of day in the life of an employee.

Building the TA machine includes the people in the TA organizations. The recruiting skills needed today extend far beyond “being a people person.” This new generation of recruiters need the ability to read data from multiple systems, translate the data into insights, and tell a compelling story to business leaders or candidates. Recruiters need to be able to design a business case for talent needs and coach business leaders on strategic workforce issues, D&I recruiting strategy, and growth mindset.  As part of this machine, mentoring and development is key.

3. Leading the story of an organization’s purpose and culture 

Though talent acquisition leaders may be part of the team that creates their employment brand, TA organizations are leading the story of an organization’s purpose and culture.  

Talent branding is more important today than ever. The workforce is more aware and connected to what their organizations stand for. Candidates focus equally on  organizations’ culture and purpose in their decision to accept a role than compensation. In response, companies are creating specific talent branding strategies for niche roles as a next practice for recruiting, and it’s working. In our latest research on talent acquisition practices, high-performance organizations are 5x more likely to create customized employment branding for specific roles.    

Talent branding skills require expertise in storytelling, drawing insights from data, and listening--which seems simple in concept, but can be difficult in practice. Being able to communicate the organization’s culture is an important capability. TA leaders need to define culture fit and create a structured process for assessing it.  By defining how teams work together, what values and workstyles would lead candidates to thrive in their culture, recruiters can ensure they are not diminishing diversity efforts. TA leaders are focusing on assessing candidates who can add to the culture and align to the organizations’ values and ethics--but also offer an alternative viewpoint and experiences.  

Organizations that are winning at talent acquisition have TA leaders who can link the TA strategy to the business strategy, build a TA machine, and lead the story of an organization’s purpose and culture. And despite (or to capitalize on) the many challenges and uncertainty in today’s environment, high-performance organizations are building progressive talent acquisition with teams that accept disruption and transformation as permanent elements of the TA strategy as uncertainty and the speed of change increases.