Talent Acquisition: A Brave New World

Time to Say Goodbye to Traditional Talent Acquisition?


The skills gap isn’t going away any time soon. PwC’s 22nd annual CEO Survey, published at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, revealed that, once again, the availability of skills remains the top business concern for UK CEOs (at 79%), with the majority of business leaders expected to increase headcount to address the perceived gap in key skills. Whilst 73% of CEOs believe that AI will significantly impact the way they do business in the immediate future, only a staggering 2% have introduced wide-scale AI initiatives, or feel as though they have adequately bridged the gaps in their digital capabilities.


There is a clear awareness amongst business leaders, then, of a need to tap into the talent pool; in fact, 66% of leaders recognise the importance of developing an agile workforce, and 75% place accessing highly-skilled talent as the most important function of change management.


Not much has changed though in the last three years. Every year, there is the same clear recognition that businesses need to speed up the talent acquisition process, but yet there remains a sluggish response in initiating change. The problem, then, must lie with the talent acquisition infrastructures and hiring methods in place that are clearly ill-equipped for the realities of the modern workforce and business needs.


The volatile future of work and business requirements has made it almost obligatory for companies to move past the static idea of full time hires, and focus more upon proactively accessing niche skills and expertise, both within and without the organization, to execute the work required, and ensure the future adaptability and growth of the business.


Owing to the pace of workplace change, and the unpredictability of recruiting needs and market expectations, traditional means of finding talent are simply not working anymore. In a workplace that now demands agility, fast adaptability and proactivity, traditional methods are simply too slow to cope with the pace of change.


Part of the problem is that traditional methods of talent acquisition are not forward thinking, and are simply far too reactive. When attempts are made to create ‘talent pools’, they are usually based on past needs, rather than future requirements, and the majority of hires are made in reaction to somebody leaving, or to a sudden shift in the market. The workplace of the future will have to incorporate a mix of talent to both meet, and anticipate, shifting expectations. As the future of work evolves, the pace of change will intensify, and to deliver on that pace, teams have to become more agile and dynamic, and embrace contingent talent and strategic interim appointments. When it comes to talent, it is now critical to cast the net as wide as possible, and keep that talent fresh and relevant. It’s about anticipating change and being able to access the right talent to match your changing needs, on-demand.


AI and machine learning algorithms are helping to reduce the burden upon HR management in sourcing the talent they need, saving time and money. Such systems help navigate between niche requirements and talent, assessing soft and hard skills, and cultural fit, and establishing instant connections between these nodes. Data and technology can combine to understand and predict future requirements too, keeping businesses one step ahead of the game at all times. Ultimately, a move away from traditional sourcing methods to a utilization of data-led TA processes, changes hiring from a reactive to a proactive operation; this helps to enhance the quality of a company’s talent acquisitions, whilst improving speed and efficiency, increasing predictability, and reducing costs, time and management burdens. The future of talent acquisition allows for a more holistic implementation of talent management processes, creating a streamlined platform for attracting, acquiring, managing, developing, predicting and extending networks of talent.


Ultimately, the directive for business leaders is clear – to adapt and embrace a fresh, nimble method of closing the skills gap, and building extended pools of contingent talent, or risk falling behind the pack and struggling to catch up with the pace of change.



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