The Change in Talent Pool will Make All Recruiting More Difficult

Demographics tell us that the absolute number of people making up the talent pool in Canada and the Unites States is decreasing. Baby boomers are finally leaving it. Recent immigrants, although increasing, will not make up the raw numbers.

To understand how this complicates the recruiting situation, we need a picture of the composition of the talent pool.

The Components of the Talent Pool

Talent Pool - People Currently Looking



Organization Leaders Need to Change Hiring Managers Recruiting Mindset 

Organizational leaders are the people who must respond first to these changes. CEOs, whether they run a well-established or an innovative organization, must ensure that the organization has the talent development and acquisition plan the organization needs to succeed.

The first thing that the CEO must do is lead their hiring managers out of the Baby Boomer mindset about recruiting to one based on the new talent pool reality depicted in the schematic above. Hiring managers will not make this change unless the CEO and other C-level leaders insist they do. Recruiters, no matter how aware they are of this changing talent pool dynamic, cannot make this happen by themselves. It is not really their job. It is the responsibility of an organization’s C-level leadership.

Recruiters as Salespeople

Our motto is “Talent Trumps Everything”. In our experience, an organization’s success and failure hinges on the talent they have working for them. That means recruiters, even the ones in well-established, organizations must “sell” their job opportunities. They need to be experts at consultative selling.

Once they identify a candidate through a ‘find them” search approach, or even when they start to interact with a person who responds to a job posting, they need to listen to that person. Once a recruiter has insight into what motivates a person, then the recruiters can place the job opportunity into the context of this specific candidate’s needs.

The recruiter must quickly move from the ‘typical’ to the ‘personal’, treating the candidate as a person to be sold on the opportunity, and on the steps that candidate needs to go through to participate in the evaluation process.

Selling the Organization’s Value Starts at the C-Suite… 

C-level leaders in all types of organization will need to take steps to change their approach to talent acquisition. Let’s make this personal. Assume you are such a leader, particularly if you are a leader of one of the following kinds of dynamic organization:

  • rapidly changing,
  • or dramatically growing,
  • or highly entrepreneurial,
  • or problem-solving,
  • or product-creating.

You will need to align your talent development and acquisition strategy with your business growth strategy, if you want to succeed at the growth. Here are the action options you need to consider at part of your future talent plan.

1.  Growing talent internally.

More than ever, if you are a growing firm, you need to add a talent development component to your strategic thinking. That is easier said than done. Most human resource professionals have not had to think strategically for decades. You may need to find an outside consultant who can help you all make this transition.

2.  Choose your recruiting tactics carefully. 

You can recruit talent in one of two ways.

The first is a ‘post and have them come to you’ tactic.

It’s worked for decades. If you have a well-established job, and there are lots of people with relevant skills looking for work in your immediate geographic talent pool, it will still work.

But if you’ve tried it, and it’s not sourcing the candidates you need, think very seriously about moving to a more assertive recruiting tactic.

‘Find them and reach out to sell them on the opportunity’ is the more assertive tactic.

With resources like LinkedIn, and now Indeed’s resume search facility, recruiters can find potential candidates much more easily than ever before. However, that’s only the first step. You need to reach out to them and find the ones who are interested in your opportunity. When you do find such an individual, they are likely to be currently employed.

Persuading people who already employed to consider a move requires very different skills on the part of a recruiter than assessing people who are looking for work.

3. Create your employment brand as carefully as you do your company brand.

Organizations will need to have an employment brand – a talent attraction approach which convinces potential candidates that they will be better off with your organization, particularly if they are currently employed.

Your website needs to contain stories about the people who are currently working for you, and how they are benefiting from that work. These stories need to concretely demonstrate:

  • the challenge your people find in their jobs,
  • the professional development they are undergoing,

  • and the job satisfaction they have.

 4. Compete economically for candidates. 

With resources like Glassdoor and Indeed, candidates can rapidly research what organizations are currently paying for the kinds of jobs for which you are recruiting in your local area. You need to do this research as well. Organizations must be prepared to pay at the top of that range to attract candidates who are already employed.

The best candidates will do this research using these on-line resources. If you are not as aware as they are about compensation levels in your area, you will never attract them.

More importantly, introduce some flexibility into your compensation and benefit package. Give people some choices. Allow them to contribute to retirement plans which they directly own, either through matching contributions to RRSP’s or another such mechanism. Create flexibility around their vacation choices.

 5.  Involve your best performers in recruiting new talent, and on-boarding it.

People are attracted to people. That is a fundamental fact about human nature.

Once you find a few final candidates, get your ‘best people’ engaged in talking to them. People who are enthusiastic about what they are doing are going to be your best ‘attract new talent’ salespeople. Motivate these individuals to participate in your talent acquisition efforts.  Train them to be recruiting ambassadors for you.

Once you hire in a new person, get one of these recruiting ambassadors to act as a on-boarding mentor and a ‘make things happen” adviser to that new person for the first two months. The payoff in productivity and long-term retention will more than make up the cost of doing this.

 6. Pick recruiters with the skills needed or upgrade your existing recruiters’ skills 

Make sure that your recruiters understand the difference between the ‘post and have them come to you’ and ‘find them and persuade them to work for you’ recruiting tactics.

Engage outside recruiters who understand this difference.

You need to have be sure that your recruiters will rapidly shift from a ‘post and have them come”’ recruiting tactic if it is not working. The outreach tactic may cost more initially but will save you more in the long run once the new talent starts to perform.

If you have in-house recruiters, engage a recruiting consultant / trainer of recruiters who can train your recruiters in these differences.

Be aware that an outreach recruiting tactic is much more demanding on recruiter skill levels than a post recruiting tactic. Outreach recruiters need to be salespeople. They need to be able to place candidates in the correct talent sub-pool, so that they adapt their conversation with candidates to fit each candidate’s needs.

They need to be facilitators of the processes used to accurately predict the ‘future on-the-job performance’ of final candidates. These “show how you can perform” processes could include:

  • Role plays and ‘work simulations,
  • Presentations and participation in group meetings,
  • Reviews of portfolios of work done in the part,
  • Interaction with multiple individuals during a “come visit us” half day or day.
  • Completion of psychological instruments by final candidates, and debriefing of thee results in the context of the future work and organizational culture.

All these activities require enhanced experience, creative design and people interaction facilitation skills which go far beyond “read a job description and do a resume-based candidate interview”. Many ‘post the job’ era recruiters will have a great deal of difficulty making this skill upgrade shift.

The Most Adaptable Dynamics Organizations Will Succeed, the Most Rigid May Not

You can find the talent you need to grow in this current talent pool reality. But only if you are realistic about the new dynamics coming from these shifts.

You may get by with ‘post the role’ based recruiting if you are a well-established organization with well-defined roles and are located in an area where there a lot of people who have relevant experience who are looking for work. But these areas will diminish as the new demographics more and more become a reality.

If you are a growing organization with rapidly evolving roles, the sooner you master ‘reach out and sell them on your opportunity’ as your normal form of recruiting, the more likely you will be to succeed in the increasing competition for available talent.

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