5 Places You Didn’t Think to Look for Digital Talent

Data can uncover sources of digital talent you might not consider.

What do a health insurer, a car maker and a bank have in common when it comes to their talent searches? The answer is they are probably competing for many of the same people — people with skills that, until recently, were only on an IT recruiter’s radar.

Those skills, such as big data, 3D printing, cloud hosting and virtual reality, are what companies now need to pursue digital opportunities, from product enhancements like mobile- or chat-based applications to vastly disruptive business transformations of product offerings, go-to-market channels and operations.

Simply put, it is even harder today — than say 3-4 years ago — to plan for, find and hire the talent we need

“Across industries, digital transformation initiatives are creating enormous strain on defining capability needs, as well as enormous competition for new talent skilled in navigating and manipulating the digital environment,” says Dion Love, principal executive advisor at Gartner. “Simply put, it is even harder today — than say 3-4 years ago — to plan for, find and hire the talent we need.”

So you are not imagining it if you feel there is a convergence in the demand for talent today. In fact, 47% of all jobs posted by S&P 100 companies in 2017 were for the same 37 roles, according to analysis of data from CEB TalentNeuron, now offered by Gartner.

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Data can reveal untapped opportunities, though. When it comes to both forecasting your digital talent needs, and finding that talent, “Data is the essential ingredient for the digital age,” says Jeremy Citro, customer service director at TalentNeuron. “Laying different datasets over one another provides clarity and insight with which real decisions can be made about sourcing strategies during digitalization.”

Data reveals new opportunities to snag digital talent

First, even before you look at labor market data, pin down the talent requirements and criteria you need for a particular role or to grow a particular capability. For example, now that auto makers are developing self-driving cars, they need a wide range of IT capabilities, from artificial intelligence engineers to software developers and machine learning specialists.

What kinds of skills and capabilities will you need as you create digital products, customer experiences and operational efficiencies?

Having pinned down those needs, data can help you identify untapped or less obvious talent pools to augment current approaches to sourcing talent for emerging digital roles. Here are just five examples of opportunities you might not have considered, but data can reveal:

  1. Tap locations with less of a talent squeeze. Do you always search first in locations with big talent pools? This is an obvious approach, but as a result, places with a lot of talent are also hotbeds of demand, especially for new roles sought across industries. By analyzing data on both supply and demand, you can get a clearer picture of which locations to target. If, for example, you have only a few people to hire, you can target a location where there may be slightly less talent available, but demand is nowhere near as strong.
  2. Mine adjacent companies and industries. In searching for digital talent, you’ve probably noticed already that you’re increasingly bumping up against adjacent industries and companies looking for the same people. But don’t just see this new competition as a threat; see the opportunity. Use data to find out which companies are actively hiring for the talent you want, and add these less obvious sectors to your own sourcing criteria to build a larger, more viable candidate pool.
  3. Check out cities with emerging talent pools. Digital talent searches inevitably target established hubs, but data can identify the next tier of cities where digital talent pools are still nascent. In these locations, you can stretch limited recruiting resources and pull specific HR levers like recruitment advertising or relocation packages to expand your pipeline of suitable candidates and build your talent pool.
  4. Analyze roles internally to fill the talent pipeline. Don’t forget that labor market data can also help you identify potential internal capabilities for high-growth digital roles. For example, you can look at what jobs or titles were previously held by the professionals you have currently employed in key roles. By looking back at how people typically progressed to a given role, you can look into your organization to identify people who might be good candidates for grooming into key digital roles.
  5. Search untapped graduate talent pools. Given the hypercompetition for mature and emerging digital roles, it’s important to target entry-level talent pipelines that are the foundation of future capability growth. Recruiters are always keen to build relationships with flagship schools well-known for producing certain IT capabilities, but data can identify other potential pools of skills, such as career or technical institutes, that are producing IT talent for certain job families such as software engineering. These schools offer an ancillary but potentially lucrative role in campus hiring programs.

There is no question that digitalization is making it increasingly harder to find digital talent. The good news is that labor market analytics can give you an edge in forecasting and finding digital talent, helping you leverage tactics that go beyond the norm, and identify talent pools both within your own company/industry (in predecessor roles) and beyond the most established markets.

For more, attend a Gartner webinar on finding digital talent.

Gartner for HR Leaders clients can read more about Winning the Talent War.