Accessing untapped talent pools: how businesses can build a diverse skill set

4 minute read
To combat skill shortages organisations are increasingly turning to new recruitment models including co-opetition (working with competitors and peer companies), open innovation hubs and location agnostic approaches, says Kate Bishop, chief HR officer at IFS

Sourcing untapped talent

Following the Great Resignation, the War for Talent continues to rage across the corporate world. In fact, it is becoming an ever more difficult struggle as organisations battle to combat the effects of economic uncertainty, increasing competition in global markets, workers switching jobs or retraining following the pandemic and a lack of staff highly skilled in digital technologies.

Recent research from The Josh Bersin Company highlights that 75% of companies around the world are struggling to recruit effectively. The study, The Definitive Guide to Recruiting: Human-Centered Talent Acquisition, indicates that competition for talent has never been fiercer, with one in five corporations surveyed having an average of over 1,000 open job requisitions. 

Roles are also often staying open for longer than in the past and many candidates are using the interview process as a bargaining tool to negotiate with their current organisation for a better package. Ultimately they might not have even intended to leave but simply have wanted evidence of their ‘value’ to negotiate.

In this environment organisations need to move beyond simply relying on traditional recruitment methods like internal hiring, standard job postings, or word-of-mouth referrals. While such approaches are still valid, they will inevitably only reach a limited pool of candidates. Organisations need to expand their reach. It is rapidly becoming an urgent imperative for both leaders and recruiters to ask the key question: where are the untapped talent pools?

Location no longer a key factor

The pandemic has proven that you don’t have to meet everybody you work with in person and work can be done by anyone from anywhere in any time zone. Before COVID-19 few businesses questioned the mantra that location incubates talent and that you could only perform at the highest level if you were present at the office every day.

Today, with remote working increasingly the norm, organisations are looking outside the office, outside the city, even outside the country, to access the global talent pool and find the right individual for every vacancy. In a survey of CFOs around the world, conducted in 2021 by Globalization Partnersthree-quarters of respondents said the pandemic fundamentally altered the way they think about hiring and workforce management. Furthermore, 81% said it altered how they consider remote employees or the work-from-anywhere model. 

When asked to outline their hiring strategy over the next 12-18 months, 42% of the sample also said they want to attract new talent that is unbounded by the geographic restrictions of their company’s operating model. This highlights that many businesses may now be ready to move to a new model of recruitment, where location is less of an issue. This rapidly emerging approach will help employer and employee alike – businesses can gain access to the highest-quality talent and candidates have the opportunity to pitch for great jobs, which in turn benefits local economies across the globe.

In line with the above, we’ve seen specialist organisations springing up around the world which can rapidly employ people for an organisation in a particular country or continent and deploy them on to that business’s work immediately, effectively ring-fencing them from any other work. Companies are spared the trouble of setting up a new entity and being an employer, but they still have access to great talent that they wouldn’t have had before. That can be beneficial for many organisations that need to fill long-term global vacancies rapidly with skilled workers and/or quickly build teams to deliver specific international contracts. It is also positive news for growing economies, as talent now doesn’t have to move countries to access jobs.

Tapping into new ideas through innovative thinking

Another way of expanding talent pools is through co-opetitionworking with competitors and peer companies for the common good. In the case of international expansion, this approach could involve businesses pooling resources to provide services and support to mobile employees in a specific location where there are only limited infrastructures. It can also help develop graduate talent, giving them access to a range of organisations in their early years and the experience that comes with that.

Co-opetition could also be about organisations within similar sectors collaborating to increase skills and develop new talent pools to benefit the whole sector. Having an in-country resource locally can help organisations scale and expand their global reach by drawing on employee knowledge of regulation, language and business culture.

Organisations can also benefit by adopting a more outcome-based approach to the whole process, where appropriate, effectively recruiting an outcome rather than an individual. One way of doing this, which is becoming ever-more popular, is through the use of Open Innovation Hubs.

These can act as a meeting place for people with similar ideas who are interested in technology and innovation. In contrast to traditional laboratories and research workshops run by a single business, these hubs actively encourage networking and working as part of a wider community.

They also support people in pursuing their own ideas and in creatively innovating. Organisations benefit from accessing that innovation to find positive outcomes and solutions to drive the business forward, without the need to recruit.

Finally, organisations should never miss out on the opportunity to tap into the pool of strong talent returning from family leave. Career breaks to build a family can be challenging. Returning to the office can feel alienating and confusing, especially if the business has undergone significant change in the interim period. 

Organisations need to be prepared to spend time focusing on building confidence across this group in restarting work again and going through any further training that might be necessary, as well as motivating them by offering flexible working opportunities. Mentors can also often help here in providing support and reassurance, based on their own experience, and in highlighting the challenges they might face and solutions that might work. Businesses that adopt these kinds of approaches will have the peace of mind of knowing that they are maximising the talent they have at their disposal.

Reaping the rewards of diversity of thought

All the above approaches represent excellent ways for organisations to move away from the traditional practice of employing workers who are either known to the business prior to employment or come from similar social backgrounds to senior managers. Perhaps most importantly, adopting a wide range of different approaches to recruitment is a positive way for any organisation to tap into new perspectives. It promotes diversity and inclusion within any business, removing geographical barriers and increasing gender diversity – as research shows, women are more likely to apply for roles advertised with remote working options.

A focus on tapping into a broader talent pool also supports diversity of thought. That’s key in developing creativity within the workplace; building innovation and removing critical blind spots. 

It is, after all, becoming clearer that just relying on traditional approaches to hiring in people is no longer an option for businesses in a world where recruiting skilled staff is becoming ever more important in delivering competitive advantage. Today’s businesses need to make sure they leave no stone unturned in their quest for the best talent.

Kate Bishop, pictured below, is chief HR officer at enterprise software company IFS

 Kate Bishop IFS

Published 28 September 2022
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