The following summary is ‘part 1’ of the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Tuesday 10th June 2014 hosted by CH2M Hill’s , Andrea Laws (Director of International Talent Acquisition) titled ‘Building Effective Talent Pools: What really is Best Practice?’.
The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
Talent Pooling has always been a widely discussed topic but as the market moves out of recession and towards a period of growth, it becomes a pressing concern for businesses. The onus lies with embedded resourcing teams to justify the importance of talent pooling initiatives to their businesses and move away from a reactive resourcing model. Resourcing functions can make assumptions on how to recruit an identified number of specific roles but a wider appreciation of their organisation’s future planning and the potential costs incurred are critical. Talent Pooling is not an exact science, it is best approached on a business-by-business and role-by-role basis; flexibility is vital.
Making the Business Case
Talent Pooling is often compartmentalised within a direct sourcing model. Businesses can be reluctant to release funds for such initiatives, predominantly because they have historically had an unquantifiable ROI. As such, the push for Talent Pooling is typically coming from Resourcing rather than the business itself. With this in mind the importance of presenting a solid business case that underpins a company’s strategic direction is paramount. Ultimately, Resourcing teams are the enabler to getting the business what it needs from a workforce perspective and Talent Pooling can be an effective tool for supporting these business needs. For businesses that don’t engage recruitment agencies as part of their sourcing model, why not channel these cost savings into sophisticated talent pooling initiatives? Resourcing functions must strive to educate the business that it doesn’t just come down to the traditional notions of time & cost per hire; these can be fast and low respectively but not represent the effectiveness of a process.
When considering Talent Pooling, engagement begins with the business. Resourcing functions must be consultative in their approach and ask the right questions to present a solution that addresses a business need. It’s crucial to start by finding out what the business’ plans and pain points are, and then highlight how the recruitment function can help support it. If recruitment teams can link initiatives back to the answers they receive then it becomes easier to demonstrate tangible returns on them. This approach can be time intensive but the success of any Talent Pooling process lies in planning, listening, and learning.
Challenges and critical questions to consider
It must be kept in mind that Talent Pooling is not a solution that will cure all of a business’ recruitment woes. There are some questions that need to be considered before choosing if it is a good option for your company;
- Does it makes sense for the volume the business is recruiting for, as in the case of niche roles, if only five people in the world possess the necessary skill sets, what use is a talent pool? The resourcing function may need to ask whether bulk hires and niche hires are placed in separate pools.
- When are you Talent Pooling? This may be in-between a cold list and interview stage for a niche role, or an on-going process during a high-demand, high-volume period of growth. It is dependent on the role and the number of suitable candidates in the market.
- That question feeds into whether Talent Pooling has to have a finite lifespan to be more effective? In fast-paced environments the focus on skillsets and the individual can change rapidly, rendering a carefully nurtured talent pool obsolete.
- Can the Resourcing function determine what form of process a candidate is willing to go through and not lose out in a candidate driven market? This comes down to engagement and being upfront with talent within your pools.
- Can the Talent Pool be widened? One approach to this might be based around learning; bringing in talent based on capability and potential rather than experience and establishing robust mentoring processes to fill skills gaps.
- What does good look like in an individual and, further to that, what does good look like for a business in transition? Skill sets can be right but culture shock is one of the biggest contributors to attrition. Should an element of psychometric testing be injected into all areas of the sourcing mix?
- Do you have the internal resources to manage talent pools effectively from a technology and time perspective? The question of whether a Resourcing function’s ATS is fit for purpose is one that needs to be approached with care as this provides the foundation for any successful initiative.
Progressive Resourcing functions need progressive metrics. For instance, what is your attrition, turnover and engagement data telling you when you map statistics back to the source and quality of hire? This is where attribution modelling becomes critical; candidates may apply through one medium, but it is the origin of first contact that provides the greatest insight into the value of talent pooling and engaging with candidates where you’re going to get the best results from a hiring perspective.
- Start by engaging and understanding company strategy and future plans to determine whether there’s a business need for talent pooling. Providing the need exists, use business drivers and pain points to present talent pooling as a credible solution
- Ensuring you are vigorously measuring talent pooling success against a pre-defined set of objectives to demonstrate ROI
- Whilst talent pooling isn’t the right solution for all hiring objectives, it’s greatest benefits can be seen in volume recruitment or where there’s a business need to continuously hire particular roles that share the same skill-set