Talent acquisition for the federal government is a challenging proposition in this era of talent shortage. Despite the lingering effects of the Great Recession and the fact that for many it seems like we are still in a recession. According to Rahaf Harfoush, co-author of the New York Times best-seller The Decoded, 1 out of 3 employers today say they are unable to fill key roles. It can be especially challenging for agencies competing against the private sector.
The Talent Warehouse – A Proactive Tool for Recruitment and Succession Planning
With this talent gap, talent is a key competitive differentiator. Finding and keeping the right talent is a critical strategic priority. With the retirement tsunami and the fight to attract millennials, the fight for talent is even greater. At the same time, employee expectations are changing, along with prospective employee expectations.
At this intersection of employer needs and employee expectations is a significant opportunity for federal agencies to be proactive and begin to separate themselves to their employees and potential employees. HR organizations can move to a more proactive approach of talent acquisition as well as toward improving agency succession planning.
This opportunity resides in the talent warehouse, which allows agencies to store a wealth of information about candidates and applicants in a database for use in a variety of ways. A talent warehouse lets you create talent pools to quickly identify candidates who match the key skill sets and attributes that your agency needs to fill an immediate need or even future needs as it makes its succession plans.
Examples of information that can be maintained in a talent warehouse include:
- Name and other personal data
- Contact information such as place of residence, email address, phone number and social media details
- Educational background
- Professional background, including employment history
- Work preferences.
As you can see, this could be a treasure trove of information to human resources professionals and recruiters when seeking to fill a position. It can actually serve as an extension of an existing outreach program for candidates.
If you are posting to job boards, asking for referrals, performing social media outreach — great. But why wouldn’t you want to help yourself by reviewing or take a look at previously qualified, even exceptional candidates that were not hired for some reason. It could potentially help you fill a key position much faster, and at less cost in advertising and recruitment expenditures.
A Listless List is Just a List
So the concept of a talent warehouse seems to make a lot of sense – a ready pool of potential candidate, even exceptional ones, to fill talent gaps quickly and efficiently. It can even be more than a recruiting tool. Forward-thinking agencies can benefit from talent pools by determining which prospective employees might be able to fill roles while planning for succession. And these pools don’t need to be restricted to those that have previously applied for a position within your agency. Existing employees have skills and qualifications that might make them the perfect candidate to fill a role.
But it’s not that simple. You can’t just maintain a bunch of names and expect that those names will necessarily be at your beck and call. It’s akin to a marketing organization that acquires contacts and lets them just sit in a lifeless bucket. The lists get bigger and bigger – and most of the names become staler and staler…with no new customers.
It’s no different for a talent warehouse. If you are just adding new applicants into a big database and storing them there, there is less and less chance to benefit from them over time.
Keep it Dynamic
But the good news is there is significant opportunity to nurture and prosper from ongoing engagement with the contacts. Just as engagement is a critical issue for employees, engagement can have a huge beneficial impact on prospective employees.
The individuals in a talent warehouse need to be engaged and nurtured. The upside of ongoing interaction can be powerful. Candidates that may have just missed out on being hired can maintain a positive impression of your agency, so when that next opportunity comes along, there is mutual interest. You may be confident the prospect is a good fit for the job, and he or she believes there is genuine interest.
The best engagement is interactive, regular and two-way. This can be achieved through encouragement of discussion. Ask questions through an online “talent community” or “recruitment community.” Take a survey on a relevant topic. Encourage feedback by asking for it and starting discussions.
Job seekers want engagement. They want a real, human and vibrant organization. Those qualities will benefit the agency when the time comes to seek out prospective candidates from a talent warehouse.
Remember – you are also capturing “expressions of interest.” You may not have an open position today, but there is a job seeker that has an interest in your agency. Allow them to build on their expression of interest by providing information that is useful and engaging – let them “talent pool” with you.
Stir the Talent Warehouse Pot
The expression “stir the pot” often has a negative connotation. It goes along the lines of keeping an argument or conflict going. But another way to look at it is not letting things settle to the bottom of the pot, but stirring the pot so that whatever is in the pot stays in motion.
A talent warehouse and talent pools can be a wealth of valuable people.
As long as you don’t let them settle to the bottom of the pot.
Great tips, Joe. In particular, I like your point about not just having a list, but being proactive in nurturing it. If you’ve got some top people you’d like to work for you one day, why not grab coffee every once in a while or invite them to events where you know your team could have some interaction for mutual vetting. Recruitment starts long before you have a vacancy.
Thanks Andrew. Yes, there is so much that can — and should — be done today before the vacancy appears.