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  • Writer's pictureSherry

Expect the Unexpected in this Talent Market

Many organizations still see search as a transaction to fill immediate or important gaps. They, or their down-line manager identify a need for more productivity or a specific skill and open a requisition.

A few organizations seek outside talent because they identify a gap in their internal intellectual capital for a future objective. Yet, after two decades in search, not much has changed – most organizations’ approach identifying talent gaps, planning future workforce needs, and finding talent just like they did decades ago.  Not much has shifted despite business change at an alarming rate.

The value of intellectual capital, the people empowering business success, the human factor, will dominate the future of work. The winners will be those who expect the unexpected, have a vision for the future, a workforce plan enabling adaptability, and a solid strategy for getting and keeping the talent they need to make it all happen.

Looking back at where we are today, some leaders may be satisfied for being great at managing process or using technology and tracking systems to keep all the parts moving. But hindsight may also show that wasn’t enough to keep the organization on track for success in this future. We need to be asking ourselves, are we looking ahead to understand and prepare to manage the unexpected?

According to Bob Johansen, a trends forecaster with a discipline around moving from foresight to action, the more complex the future, the further ahead leaders need to look.

We don’t have to imagine a heated, highly competitive talent market of the future, it’s here today. It has been heating up for years and the competition is fierce. Urgency is driving decisions to buy experts, and search professionals are being tasked with finding “the unicorn” or being told to “look under rocks” for that unique leadership skill set everyone wants.

On more occasions than executives may want to admit, after a long, exhaustive search process, someone inside the company is identified to take the role. The client realizes the unique mix of skills and experience they’re looking for doesn’t exist in the external market – at least not at the rate they’d like – and they should “develop the internal talent after all.” Ultimately, this decision benefits the internal candidate, but squanders time and money, sends mixed signals to employees and the talent market, and potentially creates new challenges in the future.

Reactive, tactical talent processes cost more from every perspective, and yet many organizations keep repeating the same, costly cycle.

How did we get here?

Increasing talent scarcity, with a narrow view of options, caused a level of pain and cost that almost paralyzed hiring decision makers. The talent market had changed dramatically, and many were unprepared to confront the change, adapt, and regain their advantage in the critical war for talented workers.

Some have no idea where to start, others are not even convinced they’re off course. Everyone is trying to navigate a new landscape without a functional map.

One quick caveat – a few organizations recognized and reacted to the evolving market. They’re currently winning the war for talent without just throwing stacks of money at candidates. The very best organizations are already planning for how they’ll manage the talent race as the field continues to evolve.

Meanwhile, at the average organization, the external talent market began to wonder why they weren’t hearing back from the recruiter or hiring manager. Was something wrong with the company? All the waiting gave candidates more time to look at social networking platforms to research the company, the department, the manager, and to connect with existing and even former employees. They want to understand the inside picture and get an idea for what they might be getting into.

Interview panels were not aligned on what they were selecting for and didn’t put a lot of value on creating a positive candidate experience.  While the recruiting and management teams slogged through the old, process-driven, tactical hiring process, internal talent was getting burned out and stressed wearing too many hats and trying to fill vacant shoes.

None of this is sustainable, and certainly isn’t the best way to drive value, improve the bottom line, or set the organization on a path to sustained success. The negative impact to the company’s brand and the bad impression on the talent market may impact their ability to attract the right talent for years.

Change is Inevitable

The perspective needs to shift, and the approach must change.

Those with a longer view have already shifted from “filling a need” to understanding business initiatives, people implications, and future skill requirements, and then planning to develop and acquire the talent for the next phase today. Seeking to understand is more important than advocating for a predictable, yet ineffective fix for old problems.

Organizations need to identify their mission-critical work – now and five years from now – and its impact to the bottom line. Then, know your game changers. This informs options to build a go-forward plan that ties business and talent strategies together and creates room to address todays unique talent marketplace.

It has been more than 20 years since we faced a 3.7% unemployment market, and the first time we have had more jobs than people looking for work.

This scarcity dynamic forces us to pay more attention to what a company offers, their culture, their brand and market presence. It demands a compelling answer for, “why join us,” and more detail on leadership values to engage the Amazon review-age of contemporary workers.

Rather focusing on finding a costly “unicorn,” go for a deeper and broader exploration and compete authentically to attract and grow the best people for your unique business and future objectives.

In today’s talent world:

• Attracting is all about telling a story and marketing a compelling message, so candidates inside and out are eager to learn more and consider an opportunity. • Finding is building a strategic out-reach plan leveraging your employee network and diverse talent pools to build relationships for the future. • Growing includes building acceptance for a new role, onboarding to drive immediate engagement, and ensuring a new hire is prepared to succeed in this new team and culture.

So the Story Goes…

The new talent perspective makes it clear these changes impact all our businesses in critical ways today, and the impact will only accelerate in the future. Inevitably, employment cycles will go up and down, but the “do more with less” mentality must head for extinction.

The future of work and talent dynamics compel us to trade outdated approaches and recognize the value of our limited resources, as well as the possibility and hidden value in creative solutions to getting work done.

The first step is a system of self-inquiry to create an actionable plan using the real perspectives of your leaders and workers. These insights must be integrated with your business strategies, talent needs, and real-world experiences attracting, finding, and growing a workforce to meet your objectives and help you stay at the top of your game.

Will you be a game changer?

Expect the unexpected and:

1) Create a dynamic lineup – Imagine how you’ll execute on key initiatives without the right team or back-ups. 2) Define the BIG jobs – Which are essential for taking the mission forward and what is the most critical work? 3) Reimagine talent acquisition – Develop internal potential, address your employment brand, align your values, and market your compelling story to attract needed talent.

Time to be trail blazers again - the stakes are high to get ahead of this challenge and  it will take business leaders and Talent experts to tackle this together.

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