Recruitment Strategy

Talent Mobility vs. Talent Acquisition – Is One More Relevant than the Other in 2022?

Refresh, rejuvenate, and revitalize are some of the key buzzwords underpinning one of the most talked-about workplace trends today – talent mobility

What is talent mobility? 

It’s a corporate strategy to better understand the skills, experiences, and long-term career interests and ambitions of employees. Digging deeper and understanding more about their talents and motivations allows managers and talent teams to find, and move employees into new roles when the fit is right. 

Employees can be 100% qualified for a new role or 60-75% suitable - but earmarked as a candidate with a high potential to thrive - in a new position over time. 

Career makeover

Whether learning new skills, having a change of environment, or trying something very different, talent mobility programs allow existing employees to contribute in new ways, while also refreshing and extending their careers. 

For employees at many levels, it’s an opportunity to have a career makeover.

Building from within

In pro sports terms, it’s like the Liverpool football team or the LA Lakers basketball team providing opportunities for players to try out for new positions.

For example, soccer strikers or basketball power forwards who may no longer have express pace can choose to apply their skills, and hard-earned game smarts, in new playmaking or defensive roles. 

Positional switches allow them to learn new responsibilities, while also applying their knowledge, experience, and muscle memory to keep driving team success. Away from the action, established players also play key roles as mentors and coaches to emerging stars or as club ambassadors in the wider community. 

From the club’s perspective, this approach provides another option to strengthen the squad because simply buying lots of new players every season doesn’t guarantee success. The process of negotiation, bringing in, and settling in new talent, is often risky, costly, and time-consuming.

Talent acquisition and talent mobility programs play vital, complementary roles 

Champion sports teams usually combine youth and experience with established stars and new arrivals. 

This “special blend” applies in the corporate world, too and successful companies have long known that talent acquisition (recruiting talent from other companies) isn’t the only pathway to inject new star power – internal talent mobility programs play an equally important role.

Yes, thriving organizations need regular infusions of fresh blood, thinking, and ideas from external hires. But top performers can also be found at home – it just takes a commitment from management teams to invest in people and resources to find existing employees with the appropriate skills or the appetite, and desire, to take on new challenges.

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As talent is either imported or discovered/developed in-house, it makes sense for acquisition and mobility teams to collaborate at a high level.

This hasn’t been the case in the past. 

Linking mobility with talent management was often viewed as a token effort to bridge widening gaps between siloed teams – a “nice to have” measure that was rarely taken seriously, and seemingly, engaged for corporate optics only. 

While there was little partnership and collaboration between the two camps in the past, it is essential now because competition for talent is intense, and new positions need to be filled in weeks, not months. 

Given these twin pressure points, companies are increasingly looking inward to offer more potential development opportunities for existing employees to fill open positions. 

Pro-actively inviting more current staffers with role adjacent skills and background/experience to apply for open jobs results in benefits such as:

  • A larger, more diverse range of candidates
  • Addressing skill shortages and protecting key talents by moving them from stagnant markets to more active ones
  • Reducing the risk of appointing people who may be a bad-fit hires 
  • Enhancing the company’s reputation as a dedicated talent developer and career builder 

Reset, refocus, repurpose

Disruption from the pandemic, new technologies, environmental concerns, and other external shocks, have forced a reset and re-evaluation of the way we do things in our private and professional lives. 

For example, a pandemic-forced “worker revolution” has swept the world over the past two years.  

While salaries, health insurance, and provident funds have been the traditional “carrots” for employees, many want more today, including greater purpose in their jobs, career mobility, and increased flexibility.

Better healthcare, workplace flexibility, job sharing, expanded childcare and educational assistance; and home-schooling opportunities are some of the most in-demand benefits. Company culture is also important. Young workers, in particular, want to work for companies that align with their beliefs in important areas such as inclusion, diversity, and sustainability.

Employers have also re-considered how they view roles and the talent needed to achieve their goals. 

Speed matters in just about every facet of today’s business world because customers, and companies, demand almost instant service and results across all touchpoints now.   

Skills first – but which skills?

Today’s hyper-dynamic, results-oriented business world rewards candidates with the right skills and a track record of constantly updating their knowledge and competency base.

Across diverse sectors, highly skilled employees are becoming more valued than people with years of experience performing similar functions within the same department.

“Right skills” in today’s context, covers technical and managerial competencies and soft skills such as curiosity, innovation, communication, speed, and vulnerability as well as intercultural and people management skills. 

Adopting a skills-first focus raises some questions for employers. However, questions such as:

  • Are skills sought too specific or rigid – is our approach too conservative?
  • What about candidates with alternative or adjacent skills? Are they being discouraged?
  • How much can people learn on the job, and how much requires training?

All valid questions, but a skills focus is well-suited to a task and project-based working landscape because it enables greater transparency. AI-powered tools and workplace solutions, for instance, can develop patterns around skills to track those in-demand and those that are becoming less relevant.

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Talent mobility is a good fit for a skills-focused workplace

A skills-first approach also raises important questions on recruitment, such as:

Is a strong and large college recruitment program as relevant and important as it was in the past?

Yes, corporations will always require a pipeline of young graduates to rise through the ranks. But college grads need time to develop, mature and upskill, and time is an absolute luxury in today’s fast-moving business world.

The traditional approach is no longer as relevant in an age where skills become obsolete faster. And where employees have higher expectations in terms of working in new areas with diverse managers, learning new or adjacent skills, and supporting regional or global projects.

And if most of your business is project-based, requiring a laser focus on timelines, deadlines, and budgets, then hiring ‘gun for hire’ consultants, or redeploying existing employees to retrain, makes more sense in terms of impact, speed, and effectiveness for your company. 

The rise of contractual and project-based business is why many organizations are currently investing more time and resources to develop an internal talent marketplace.

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Talent mobility benefits 

Talent mobility programs are increasing in popularity with employees and employers alike. 

From an employee perspective, the main benefits of talent mobility include the chance to:

  • Extend their career with an organization they know well and most probably like
  • Transition to a role that they’re a match for already or requires upskilling in one or two areas
  • Add value faster
  • Enjoy career security knowing there are future opportunities to retrain and thrive in new roles

From the employer’s perspective, the main benefits include the chance to:

  • Fill in positions faster with in-house talents and save costs on external hiring, onboarding, talent development, and training
  • Move talent dynamically with workers who know the company culture
  • Help employees prolong their careers rather than exiting to join competitors
  • Boost across the board job satisfaction and productivity ratings
  • Enhance the company’s reputation as an employer of choice 

The rise of talent mobility chimes with current worker sentiment in the ongoing pandemic environment - according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, over two-thirds of 208,807 workforce in 190 countries around the globe are desired to obtain skills for new job positions that are offering more opportunities and security

Training opportunities are a key differentiator in terms of attracting and keeping top performers – a lack of development and mobility were the top two reasons Millennials left jobs, according to research carried out in the U.S

It also makes better sense cost-wise. Josh Bersin, a high-profile HR expert, and commentator wrote that it can cost as much as 6-times more to hire from the outside than to build from within.

An Internal talent marketplace – the building blocks

Creating a talent-mobility-friendly environment takes time, however, and constant finetuning and upgrading. 

It also requires planning, management buy-in over the long-term, and implementing essential building blocks or conditions to support internal mobility – fundamentals such as:

  • Networking platforms and events for employees (at all levels) to share ideas and views with colleagues across departments and locations  
  • A collaboration environment including office space and online tools to connect with colleagues
  • Learning resources and tools that are accessible to all employees anytime and from anywhere 
  • Transparent processes to support supply and demand matching in a simple, fair, and open way

Building a digital talent marketplace

Technology is the other essential ingredient.

Modern digital talent marketplaces promote mobility within by continuously providing key data about the internal talent pool, and their current skills, and experiences, to management teams.

An open, transparent digital talent marketplace democratizes the supply and demand process. 

It gives everyone accessibility and an equal chance to seek new roles and career pathways. With all the latest information online, employees can’t use the “I didn’t have access to information” or “I didn’t know where to look” excuse anymore. 

Digitized headhunting 

Discovering hidden talent is another benefit provided by AI-enabled digital talent marketplace platforms.

Most companies have under-the-radar employees who, thanks to their education, previous roles and skills learned, or aptitude for a specific task, are good candidates for positions they may not have considered before. 

To alert or prompt them about these opportunities, HR teams can engage sophisticated talent solutions to screen current workers and match them to available positions where their background, skills, and openness to learning are well suited. 

Sometimes candidates who may only have 60% of the skills required should be considered because:

  1. The remaining skills can be learned easily on the job.
  2. They are high-potential candidates who have a lot to offer over the long term.
  3. They have a strong growth mindset and aptitude for a role based on previous experience rather than the right degree or diploma. 

Increasing the number of cross-department/function or lateral career moves is especially important in the current job market, where many employees continue to rethink their priorities moving forward.

Lateral moves provide added incentive for workers to stay with companies. Research conducted in the U.S. revealed that 75% of employees who are promoted would stay with a company for at least three years. 

The lateral approach also allows companies to offer promotional opportunities in challenging business times while also enabling more employees to develop new skills to keep growing. 

Enhancing diversity and reducing employee turnover

Technology can also help companies to address diversity issues – in particular, if some sectors of your business are underrepresented in terms of gender, age, experience, and so on. 

How? Running an automated and unbiased candidate search and matching digital program to offer roles to internal candidates, or place them in a talent pool for specific projects, ensures that diversity best practices are being adopted. 

Reducing the employee turnover rate is another expected benefit of a digitized “internal headhunting” approach. Employees who are identified, matched, and decide to try a new role may have considered leaving the company had this approach not been adopted. 

While maintaining a high retention rate is an important KPI for all businesses, the pandemic has driven home the need and value of keeping staff and creating new opportunities for them instead of having them exit. 

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Sharpening your talent mobility edge

Managing talent mobility at scale requires the right tools and technologies. Emails, spreadsheets, and internal job boards won’t cut it anymore.

AI-powered recruitment management technologies support the best, most impactful, and dynamic talent mobility programs today. Resume data software and technologies that can import employee profiles, identify skills from experience and resumes, and recommend new positions, projects, and assignments.  

Sophisticated platforms can also create a company-wide skills roadmap to shape internal development, skills assessment, and workforce planning.

As a pioneer in the recruitment software marketplace, Manatal offers a diverse range of solutions and tools that enable internal talent management teams to seamlessly build talent pools, identify where skills are needed, and find perfect match employees, as well as rising stars with a high growth upside.

Bottom line – the solutions allow talent teams to build data-led insights and make data-driven decisions. 

Manatal software also enables smooth and uninterrupted communication with hiring managers, candidates, and many other stakeholders to provide a transparent, fair, and open talent marketplace.

If you’re serious about powering up your talent mobility efforts, we invite you to see how Manatal can make your talent marketplace dreams and aspirations a reality by signing up for a 14-day Free Trial today.

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