How to be Strategic in Today’s Talent Market

We’re all familiar with talent competitions like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. But when it comes to staffing your company, there’s a different kind of talent competition afoot—and it doesn’t involve singing or dancing. In a post-pandemic world, there’s a hiring race for competitive advantage, and if you don’t have a deep understanding of what candidates are seeking in their next position, you’ll likely miss out.

The talent competition: It’s very real, and we’re here to help you have that competitive edge.

Executives and HR departments are struggling to staff, with 69% of employers struggling to fill positions, according to ManpowerGroup—and even that number seems low. It seems you can’t throw a rock without coming across the next piece talking about this “competition,” and while you won’t necessarily get “voted off,” businesses are paying the price.

After learning the perks of working flexible hours, remotely (or hybrid), and getting added benefits, potential hires are not only seeing their value—they’re enforcing it by being more selective with where they choose to work. The result: HR departments and staffing agencies have to be more tactical in today’s talent market.

One surefire way to access more talent is to consider contract employees. Contractors have seen it all, especially in tech. If you need someone to join your project and don’t have the time or resources to train them, an experienced contractor can ramp up quickly. You’ll get a resource in the door faster who will hit the ground running, adding immediate value to the team.

Technical talent is in high demand now more than ever. Companies are making record-breaking investments in digital transformation this year, up 65% from 2020. So if you want your digital investment strategy to reach higher returns, it all comes down to transforming operations, moving digital efforts forward, and showing results.

While initially in the late 1990s, the competition for talent intensified because of demographic shifts, nowadays it has been exasperated due to the mass layoffs and furloughs brought on by the pandemic.

The Great Resignation is still happening. The priorities of workers have changed, and as employers, you have to pivot and adapt to get the best candidates to apply—those purple squirrels are out there.

But what’s the best way to win in today’s talent market? Improving your hiring process and efficiency is a start. We see organizations constantly losing candidate engagement due to a tedious hiring process.

Our vice president of business development, Dave Paglia, suggests putting people first. “They are the core and life of all highly successful businesses,” he mentions. Paglia recommends defining what’s really needed for the role and offering flexibility where feasible.

“The majority of all candidates we speak with want clarity and a sense of purpose or belonging,” Paglia says. “In my opinion, offering those at every step of the candidate’s experience is a contributing factor as to why so many people make changes in their careers and can be a big reason as to why your offer is selected over others.”

While Paglia doesn’t suggest company-wide policy changes to clients, he does suggest companies think and ask themselves what small things could make a big impact on someone deciding if this is the right opportunity for them.

“We recently worked with a CEO who needed to add a member to his executive leadership team,” he says. “His biggest regret was not acting on the first candidate that checked every box. It’s always nice to survey the competitive talent landscape, but keep in check the cost of waiting to find that same person if it takes 6+ months.”

He’s right. Candidates grow tired of waiting for responses and the constant back and forth of needless interviews. Foregoing a lengthy interview process could mean being able to hire your top choice, rather than having them scooped up by a competitor.

“Ideally there are no more than three rounds to make a sound decision,” says Paglia. “Every member interviewing should have a series of thoughts and questions prepared in advance. We see it quite often where a company doesn’t promote its business enough and where said individual could really help accelerate the overall vision.”

While we have many ways of helping our clients, it all starts with being great listeners. It’s the key to everything in life, but it is crucial when sitting down with clients and understanding what is needed to find the next purple squirrel employee. “Part of our process also includes educating our clients on market conditions and ways in which to help them stand out,” Paglia says. “We take a lot of pride in being fully transparent and upfront with what’s happening in each market segment and particular skill set.”

The way to have your company attract a “purple squirrel” and stand out to candidates is simple: Offer them contract work with benefits like working remotely or at the very least offering a hybrid environment. When candidates know they’re able to have a flexible schedule and know from the get-go not only what the hiring process is, but what is expected of the new hires, it paves the way for success—both yours and theirs.

Need some help being tactical in today’s talent market? Reach out.

Download Part 2:
Initiation, Strategic Vision & CX - HCD