To acquire quality talent who can drive business outcomes, recruiters must tap into, and appeal to, nontraditional pools of talent. That requires a new approach.
High-quality talent contributes to business outcomes quickly and substantially, even as business goals change. To find these high performers armed with the right skills, recruiting practices must evolve far beyond filling roles based on traditional profiles.
Kasey Panetta, Gartner Senior Content Marketing Manager, interviews Dion Love, VP, Advisory at Gartner, to discuss how to reimagine recruiting strategies to identify, find and appeal to high-quality talent with the right critical skills to drive business performance.
For the full interview, listen to the podcast below or read the transcript that follows, which has been edited for clarity and length.
Recruiting to fill skill gaps
Traditionally, the hiring process has been about answering the question “Who do we need” to fill a new position or for an employee who's left the organization. Instead of focusing on who we need, emphasis should be placed on ”What are our skills gaps?” This focus helps to address the skills that may have left with the departing employee, but also helps us to understand the skills that we need today.
Understanding skill gaps also helps to look to the future. For example, what are the behaviors or the capabilities of an individual that will set us up for success? By doing that, we have the opportunity to move on from the traditional profiles that we've recruited for that role in the past and to increase the diversity and the different types of talent that we bring into our organizations.
Macro shifts in the global labor market have impacted the way we've traditionally done hiring and the ability to bring quality talent, specifically diverse talent, into the organization.
The three key phases of hiring are:
1. "Needs definition"
The macro shift that has affected the way we've done needs definition historically is the evolution of skills. We’ve seen a rapid evolution of skills, new skills coming into organizations today. New skills that we need for which we haven't recruited before, as well as unusual world skills related to digital and other areas of digitalization in the global labor market.
We've seen in terms of sourcing, the dispersion of skills. Skills today don't just come out of the cast-iron gates of an Ivy league university. They come out of basements, they come out of libraries, they come out of cafes. The way you can plug in a laptop and log on to your coding community to practice the skills that you need to be a successful coder in an organization today is just one example.
3. Talent conversion
We see the rising value of the employee experience — increased expectations for employees in which their EVP, their employment value proposition, is personalized, customized. A static promise that we typically have placed in the market or that we've extended to candidates as potential hires of our organization is no longer resonant.
Potential hires want to find different aspects of their offer and fine-tune not just compensation and benefits, but things related to the actual design of the job itself and the actual design of the work that they'll be doing day to day. Candidates now show much greater assertiveness and much higher expectations around the influence that they will have in just where they'll be working and what they'll be doing in an organization today.
Given the fundamental transformation that organizations are going through — that is, digitalization — there are new skills that organizations need in order to be effective, to be competitive today. Now those new skills might be skills that are new to the organization or new to the world. Regardless, our data shows a massive increase in the evolution of skills the past few years. That means that hiring managers aren't as familiar anymore with the skills that they need to be successful and lead successful teams.
Profiles are historically often based on experiences of managers, possibly working in the role before. That works really well — where you have that history, you have that experience and therefore you have expertise in the skills that you need. Where that doesn't work is when those skills are either brand new or they're new to you.
You can't define a profile where you don't know the skills, and that's increasingly what we're seeing hiring managers struggling with today. It's really hard to say Here's who I need,” because that answer is based on years of experience and expertise that hiring managers don’t have.
“ We need our employment value proposition to be not just a broadcast to the market, but also a listening device”
Employee value propositions needs modernizing
When you think about the employment value proposition — what an organization chooses to focus on in terms of the offer that they put to a potential candidate — that offer is based on what we know about that candidate. If you've been hiring in the past for a particular role, you've come to know who is a competitive candidate for that role.
We've done years of analysis and research into what that individual's preferences are, so we get to a point where we say, not only we know that you're the right profile for this role, but we also say, we know what you want in terms of compensation and benefits, future career opportunities, development opportunities, the quality of the work and the people you work with. And we put that together in an employment value proposition that we know will be attractive to you.
“ Create opportunities that are attractive, not to talent that we've recruited in the past, but that we want to recruit in the future”
That doesn't work when you don't have that fundamental understanding of the profile that you're seeking to fill, particularly for a position that is radically different or where the profile that you want is different or more diverse than the profile that you've had in the past.
We need our employment value proposition to be not just a broadcast to the market, but also a listening device, a device that understands where we see and where we hear different preferences from new and more diverse segments of the skills market that we're recruiting from. We need to be able to adapt and create roles, create jobs, create opportunities that are attractive, not to talent that we've recruited in the past, but that we want to recruit in the future.
What that might look like if we were to take this new path is that we go in to present a candidate to a hiring manager that doesn't have the degree from the university that you've always asked for, or that you expect to see, or might not have a university degree at all. It also means that the person might not have worked in your industry. And increasingly we're seeing not only are people self-taught, but there are convergent roles across the industries.
One way to attract diverse talent is to remove demographic indicators from resumes or application materials. It might be a name that is an indicator of a person's gender or a person's ethnicity. Instead, focus on the skills they have and the work they've done. Combine that with a laser focus on the job description. Therefore the conversation around needs between the recruiter and the hiring manager is on outcomes, not inputs.
Recruiters and hiring managers need to be prepared to have a different conversation when reviewing candidates. Recruiters need to help hiring managers see that the nontraditional candidates have the same level of skill and the same quality skills that the organization needs to be successful.
Individual attributes talent wants change all the time, and it's not necessarily going to help in recruiting diverse talent into our organization. What we see is important though, is that you demonstrate inclusiveness and accommodations. So this means having something to say around your work hours and the flexibility of your work hours, flexibility of work scheduled, better work-life balance, and so forth.
We also see that diverse candidates want to know what your opinion is on certain issues. Include a reference or a link to your diversity and inclusion policies and practices in your job announcement, so they can see exactly not just what you're saying, but what you're on record as committing to as an organization.
“ Focus on things that candidates need to achieve, or what success looks like”
The other thing that's really powerful — more powerful than you might expect — is that when you go back to the job description itself, it’s typically focused on need. We need someone with this degree, certification, industry experience. All of those can be opportunities for someone to self-select out of the process because they don’t meet the need.
Instead, focus on things that candidates need to achieve, or what success looks like. Instead of seeing five to seven years of work experience, look at the candidate's ability to develop client relationships at the most senior levels of our customer organizations.
So overall, shifting the focus of job descriptions toward outcome rather than inputs into a job is a simple, yet powerful way of appealing more broadly to diverse and otherwise excluded segments from your hiring process.
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