Power Your Talent Search With Data: 5 Lessons Learned

April 24, 2019

Contributor: Jackie Wiles

Smart HR and recruitment leaders leverage the power of labor market data and location intelligence to hone their talent sourcing and hiring decisions.

As the demand for talent converges on critical roles, it’s easy for human resources (HR) leaders to be distracted from the larger mandate: Translate critical business initiatives and objectives into a workforce and recruiting strategy that can support digital business and help drive key growth initiatives.

Too often, though, recruiting teams lack big-picture perspective on external labor market conditions, macro-level workforce trends, and other factors that may affect the business and talent pipeline in the short and longer term.

“Companies today need labor market data, location intelligence and competitive intelligence to inform their workforce planning,” says Alex Johnston, Group Vice President, Gartner TalentNeuron™. “Those insights help you to understand how skills are changing within the marketplace before they impact your business, and help you develop a more proactive approach to finding and situating key talent.”

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Talent sourcing isn’t only about supply and demand

Every company has to consider a unique set of variables, but some are already winning the talent war by empowering their recruiting and workforce planning functions with real-time talent analytics and labor market intelligence to inform talent sourcing decisions.

These insights also help recruiting teams play a proactive role in enterprise hiring decisions, instead of simply chasing the talent that business leaders think they need.

Gartner TalentNeuron client studies shows how a lack of information or misinformation can slow or derail your search for talent — and your ability to secure it once you find it — and how data insights can surface potential solutions.

Read more:  How Data Can Help You Find Talent in the Digital Age [Infographic] 

How some companies used data to win talent

Consider how these companies gained key insights from external labor market data, which they used to make critical adjustments to their talent sourcing decisions.

  1. Your competitors may not be who you think they are. While workforce planning for critical talent, a large U.S. telecom service provider wanted to benchmark its talent with nontraditional competitors. The company identified the top skills it needed to remain competitive, and studied the hiring trends of competitors. It discovered that content providers were its main competitors, not other telecommunications companies. This helped the firm reorient its talent search.
  2. Don’t forget hidden talent costs. A U.S. credit reporting firm had a large office in São Paulo, one of Brazil’s most expensive locations. Revenue was growing fast, but margins were pressured when unionization and wage growth inflated wages. Government regulations and incentives required certain roles to remain in Brazil, but that talent could be located anywhere in the country. The firm used location intelligence to identify alternative cities in which talent was sufficiently available at a much lower cost.
  3. Supply isn’t the only consideration in locating talent. A telecom and networking company wanted to augment its R&D capability by setting up a large engineering division, separate from its existing offshore operation in India. Eastern Europe looked to be a favorable location given talent supply and wage costs, but location intelligence on multiple variables turned up an unexpected choice — Canada. Its operations costs were only marginally higher than in Eastern Europe, but Canada’s flexible immigration and expat laws created a high-quality talent pool with the right cultural fit — at a fraction of the cost of a talent hub in, say, the U.S.
  4. Talent supply doesn’t equal availability. A large retail organization’s e-commerce team was located in Silicon Valley in California, but was having a tough time sourcing the right quality talent in the highly competitive region. Analysis showed that Los Angeles and New York City had a high concentration of the company’s desired skills — with much less competition. The result: The e-commerce offices were relocated to Los Angeles and New York City.
  5. Be careful how specific you are with job requirements. The head of a regional business unit at a large global financial firm needed to hire 100–200 contact center agents. The recruiter could not fill the open positions and the HR business partner couldn’t find the root cause for the delay. They investigated further by looking at data on the availability of talent meeting the specifications of the job description in the chosen location. Analysis revealed that no existing talent pool matched the exact job criteria because the job description was too specific. It was based on the hiring manager's demands, but wasn’t grounded in the reality of available talent in that location. The requisition was revised.

Data drives talent-sourcing decisions

Data clarifies the path to talent only if it drives decisions and actions. Armed with data about the realities of talent supply, demand, cost and location, recruiters are better able to:

  • Recalibrate the skills they target to buy (via recruitment) in their talent strategy vs., say, reskilling their existing workforce.
  • Challenge how a business line is prioritizing openings that aren’t key to driving the enterprise’s new business model or strategy.
  • Identify new talent competitors to watch when moving into a new segment.

HR leaders can use their insights to educate the business on what the broader market is signaling about skills and competencies. Industries are transforming so fast that business leaders themselves might not be able to predict what they will need. Data-driven insights can help clarify what skills the business will need to pursue its digital ambitions, and the options available to secure the right talent.

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