The way that talent is attracted, hired, on-boarded, developed and retained is evolving. New technologies, changing attitudes to work and employment (from both employers and workers), heightened expectations and a growing transparency around how businesses operate have led to a re-imagining of the talent journey.
What was once a series of events is now an ongoing process, that begins before there is even an identified hiring need, and continues beyond the lifespan of an individual’s working involvement with an organisation.
First lets redefine what we mean by talent. This is probably one of the most overused, misused and misleading words in the modern labour market. Often used by HR and recruitment professionals to imply a high skilled, high potential candidate who is in some way special. This narrow definition leads to poor recruitment practice, with recruiters trying to chase the mythical candidate who ticks all their boxes and is ready made for their vacancy. These people rarely exist, and they are rarely needed.
We now have new jobs are being created, needing skills that haven’t been hired before. People grow in different ways, using initiative and developing their capabilities in line with what interests them and what they believe they would enjoy and be good at. If their jobs are under threat, they will often find new ways to use their talents. The most successful hires will be people who grow into a role, mould it around their capabilities. Growth mindsets and cultures of innovation require curiosity, courage and a restless spirit. These can be found in many people if they are afforded the right tools, a collaborative culture and time.
And of course there are many roles that might seem mundane and repetitive. Yet the people who do them are skilled. Talent is about the people who are right for the role, and right for the business, irrespective of background and trajectory. Talent is also about the hiring business itself, its vision, values, purpose and dynamics. Its offer to its employees, whether they are employed or provide their skills on a freelance or temporary basis.
And it is also about the way in which new people, and new capabilities, are bought into a business.
The new talent journey is an ongoing process incorporating many stages:
Attention – What is known about the business and the potential new hire. Information available. Reputation judged from online interactions and engagements. Before there is even a connection there is a perception over what a business is like, and how it treats its people and customers. And there is also an impression of the candidate.
Attraction – How you hire, what information you make available, how the role is marketed and what is offered. How you develop relationships and conversations with potential employees and collaborators.
Acquisition – Your recruitment process. Application, interviews, assessment, selection. How you communicate, the quality of feedback, when you offer, and the experience you give. This doesn’t sit in isolation but seamlessly evolves from attraction and forms the basis for…
On-boarding – Still waiting for a new hire’s first day before you give them the tools they need for the new role? Think again. The best companies are on-boarding people form the very start of the hiring process, giving them a seamless transition into the business. Paperwork? Already done online before they start. Induction? Its also happening online, probably through a portal, often from the time they accept the offer. First day experience? It’s a gift, a meeting, time with a senior leader. It’s not a few days’ wait for a new laptop and a login, sitting with a team who didn’t know you were starting.
Development – Lateral progression and opportunities for skill and capability enhancement, across teams, functions, divisions and borders. Performance evaluation is ongoing and coaching led. New hires don’t wait for a probation review after 3 months and an appraisal after a year, they want real time, constructive feedback on how they are performing and how they can improve.
Retention – Mutual attraction, the outcome of treating people well and giving them the tools and framework to succeed, develop and enjoy what they do. And if they want to move on – then retain their loyalty and advocacy, because they will be your best referrers of new people and customers, and they may well return in some capacity.
Attracting, acquiring, on-boarding, developing, engaging and retaining your people is an evolving, interlocking process that renews, reviews, reinvents and repurposes. It’s the way that the people you need connect and work with you, grow and develop, create and innovate, make their mark, laugh and collaborate, and its the solid bond you put in their hearts, keeping them very much part of your network of connectors, referrers and influencers.
Its the new talent journey.
(My book Exceptional Talent has recently been published by Kogan Page. In the book myself and co-author Matt Alder explore how changes in technology, communication, and employee preferences are impacting the talent journey. We offer practical advice on how to build effective recruitment and talent management strategies to meet the needs of today, while also helping businesses plan and prepare for the challenges of the future.)