Why Building a Winning Talent Pool isn’t a “Slow Cooker” Process


If you spend much time in the kitchen, then you probably love slow cookers. I mean, what can be easier than taking a bunch of tasty ingredients, tossing them into the cooker, closing the lid, turning it on and walking away for eight hours. Then, when you return – presto! – a delicious meal is ready.

It would be great if assembling a deep talent pool for your agency were so simple. That you only had to find the right job candidates and store their contact information in a file and then – presto! – you fill vacancies instantly with “just right” hires.

Unfortunately, you’ll never develop an effective talent pool with a “slow cooker” mentality. Federal department Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) and their teams must proactively seek out the best collection of available skills and match them to anticipated openings for the near, mid- and long-range future. They need to engage these candidates for weeks or even months at a time. (In succession planning, after all, you may think that a Baby Boomer with a critical role will retire soon, and, yet, the Boomer stays in the job for a year or longer.) The upshot: You don’t want possible replacements to drop out because they get discouraged after being ignored “in limbo” for so long.

Thus, to extend my cooking analogy, you have to constantly “tend to the pot” with ongoing attention. This requires internally and externally focused efforts directed toward both existing employees with advancement potential, and candidates outside of your agency.

Such demands can drain time and resources. But they don’t have to – not when you deploy talent management analytics solutions as part of your plan. Analytics tools enable you to maximize the value of all of the informational “treasures” residing within your pool’s data, such as names, personal interests, employment history, professional accomplishments/goals, contact preferences, educational background, etc. All of this intelligence will better position you for success, especially if you pursue the following best practices recommendations:

Stay on the radar. Leverage newsletters, social media and even old-fashioned emails to keep in touch with internal and external candidates. You can use these tools to highlight recent agency milestones achieved, as well as accomplishments of staffers (therefore, conveying the message that your agency recognizes individual contributions). For one-on-one engagement, send occasional emails to say, for example, “We’re still very interested in your availability for the future opening discussed previously … Are you still interested? Is there anything you’d like to update us on with regard to your resume/professional experiences?”

This level of engagement strategy can involve plenty of legwork if you rely solely upon manual processes to execute it. That’s why talent management analytics can dish out a great “assist” here. You can customize these solutions for proactive alerts, for instance, to remind you to send personalized emails on a regular basis.

Keep webpages updated. Potential recruits often get their first impression of an agency through its website’s home page and employment links. So make sure your site doesn’t look like something out of the last century, with static pages and an over-reliance on text. In-demand Millennials crave interactive, multi-media experiences. According to research from the Talent Board, 44 percent of job seekers say that they need time to assess an employer before applying for a position. By investing in your site’s upgrades, you convey an immediate, appealing impression of your organization’s culture. Analytics will tell you whether you’re enhancing the user experience through your efforts (by providing traffic, “share” and other user activity data).

Invest in training. Obviously, this recommendation is directed toward your internal pool. Take advantage of analytics to find out what promising, current staffers seek in training/professional development. (Are they looking to hone specific, vocationally focused skills? Or would they prefer sessions about communications and other “soft” skills?) In addition, analytics can help you determine which training formats (in-person or online) work best, not to mention “out of the box” opportunities such as cross-training employees on department-wide capabilities/needs and/or offering staffers temporary assignments that expose them to a new area of the agency.

As you can see, a passive approach won’t result in the development of an effective talent pool. It requires a thoughtful strategy and proactive execution. But it doesn’t have to excessively consume time and resources either. Through analytics, you eliminate steps and establish an instant connection to internal and external candidates – generating more opportunities for engagement.

Joe Abusamra is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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