TALENT ACQUISITION & THE WAR FOR TALENT
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TALENT ACQUISITION AND RECRUITMENT
You can have recruitment without talent acquisition, but you cannot have talent acquisition without recruitment. Recruitment (at least the definition) is simple: finding talent to fill open positions. Talent acquisition, however, is a much bigger animal. Talent acquisition takes into account future roles that will need to be filled, and future gaps in talent that may arise. These positions can be identified by looking at the current organizational plan, or looking back on the organization’s history to learn patterns that may arise in the future. In some instances, a talent acquisition strategy may project a need for positions that don’t even exist in the organization yet. Talent acquisition is an all-encompassing talent strategy for the employee lifecycle, and recruitment is the first stage.
Follow the evolving history of talent acquisition and recruitment, and see that while the rudimentary tactics have remained the same in the common era, modern technology has provided a vast arsenal in the war for talent.
THE WAR FOR TALENT (THEN AND NOW)
It’s 55 B.C. The gates of Janus have opened; Rome—the modern world, in fact—is at war. Two-thousand and sixty years later, there’s still a war going on. This particular war is not for land or vengeance, though still just as much for wealth and glory. This is a war for talent. And, though the ends are far from the same, the means remain very much analogous. After all, a war is a war, whether it be for land or people, and people are necessary to win any war.
THE EMPLOYEE REFERRAL
Julius Caesar signed a decree promising a reward of 300 sestertii (Roman coins made of silver or bronze) to any soldier that brought another soldier to join the Roman army, which would be roughly one-third of a soldier’s annual pay. This is, in essence, the first employee-referral system.
Today, employee-referral systems can provide a highly effective source of qualified candidates who are more likely than average to fit the company’s culture. In fact, many HR managers and recruiters consider employee referrals to be the most effective method for sourcing and acquiring talent. The best part about it is, a referred candidate comes with a trusted endorsement. Some research claims that if an employee fits well with the company culture, their referral may likely do so as well.
What’s more, employee-referral systems tap into the passive talent pools—those who are not actively seeking a job because they are already employed, but could be a beneficial contribution to the organization. According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends report, only 61 percent of companies actively recruit passive candidates, while the majority of professionals consider themselves passive. Employee referrals can also benefit those who have been out of work for long periods of time, because their connections to organizations are weaker.
Overall, employee referrals save time and money, and boost the odds that recruiters will fill vacant positions.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYMENT
Though he preferred the quiet confidence that accompanied a soldier’s referral, the truth is that Caesar wasn’t picky when it came to talent acquisition. In the past, Romans used a class structure to recruit soldiers. But when the potential talent pool became shallower—due in part to a major defeat by the Gauls and an increasing competition for upper-class citizens working in the private sector—anyone who was willing and able could be recruited by the Roman army, including non-citizens.
According to a talent acquisition study by LHH, 27 percent of HR managers and 55 percent of recruiters expect to see a rise in global sourcing—teams comprised of members from other countries. Reasons for this include a lack of local talent, the quality of international applicants, and the sheer increase in applicants from other countries. Global sourcing simply widens the talent pool to include a deeper batch of talent. As in most wars, one side gradually acquires more land, and a global talent pool allows for expansion into new, larger markets.
When the Romans couldn’t find adequate talent, they hired mercenaries. They became known as auxilia, or aids to citizen legionnaires. They were meant to bolster the regular army’s short-term needs, but often became regular soldiers.
Now, recruiters and HR managers agree that candidates are more open to temporary staffing as well as full-time employment. Furthermore, talent acquirers are placing more candidates in temporary jobs to start, later to become full-time employees when necessary. In the war for talent, talent acquisition almost always begins with engagement. With temporary—or any—talent acquisition strategy, the job listing itself will be the first point of contact. It’s important to brand the company, and the specific position, in a highly appealing way. Just like Roman soldiers knew that they would go on to glory and wealth, companies today need to make their job listings engaging and worthwhile.
The company also needs to have a strong culture—one that even temporary employees want to be a part of. It’s one of the most apparent aspects of any company, and the mission, vision, and day-to-day operations of an organization will drive a candidate to sign on or not.
Perhaps the most significant incentive for part-time employees is full-time employment opportunities. It motivates engagement by letting the candidate know that, if given the position, they will be adopted into the company as a full-fledged member of the team.
The Roman army knew that to acquire the best talent, monetary incentives wouldn’t always be enough, so it aggressively promoted its brand as a symbol of honor. The symbol of a golden eagle above the letters SPQR (“the Senate and the Roman People”), signified that soldiers represented the people and country. Soldiers would receive this mark by way of tattoo, and it meant that soldiers were part of an elite group.
In this day and age, swearing allegiance to a company by means of body modification isn’t as archaic—or even barbaric—as it may seem on the surface. Recently, BBC reported the story of Chuck Runyon, founder of Anytime Fitness. Now, there are over 2,000 people sporting the “running man” logo somewhere on their bodies—something Harley Davidson has known about for years (just take a look around your local biker bar). This is, unequivocally, corporate branding.
Rebecca Battman, independent brand consultant, said of the phenomenon, “It demonstrates a real emotional commitment to a brand, and shows how much brands have come into different aspects of our lives - they are no longer just about a product or experience. And people now often feel strongly that they share the same fundamental beliefs or attitudes of a certain company.” All of these inked people, be they customer or employee, are brand ambassadors now—for better or worse—in the war for talent. The public doesn’t have to go as far as tattoos to communicate commitment and loyalty to a brand. Just take a look at Apple and Nike, employees and customers alike consistently don and promote the brands through using products, wearing clothing, etc.
The Recruiter Sentiment Study found that 83 percent of talent acquirers believe the war for talent is candidate-driven, which means that organizations trying to attract talent need to sell the organization and make candidates want to work for them. In the war for talent, candidates need to be seen as customers.
So, in order to recruit talent, a company must amp up its engagement with the organization even before there is a position to be filled.
HOW ROME WAS BUILT LIKE TODAY
Though talent acquisition concepts haven’t changed too drastically over the last two millennia, a lot has changed in talent acquisition tactics. Technology has advanced and influenced talent acquisition practices. Like these practices, talent acquisition’s advances were due in part to warfare.
A MODERN HISTORY OF TALENT ACQUISITION AND RECRUITMENT
Modern talent acquisition—the process by which a candidate is attracted, recruited, screened, and selected for a job—really originated in the 1940's as a result of World War II. As many soldiers were called into the service, a gap in employment occurred, and the employment agency was born to help fill the vacancies. When the war ended, the recruiting agencies remained to help place veterans into jobs to put their newfound skill set to use.
By the 1950's, people were looking for jobs and creating resumes to showcase their personal professional profile. Recruiters made sure that these resumes found their way into the right hiring hands, and that people found work. By the 1970's, recruiters were limited to billboards to advertise for open positions, or printing help wanted ads in the newspaper classifieds. Other than print media, the only way to find out about open job positions was through word of mouth or employee referral. Also, candidate information storage was limited to little more than a Rolodex. With the pervasive technology of the day being typewriters, printing presses, and filing cabinets, acquiring talent was a difficult, tedious task.
Then the 90s happened.
Computers were useful for storing information, but with the birth of the World Wide Web, recruiters and candidates alike were bequeathed miracles such as online classifieds, job advertising, and online databases. Head-hunting became a popular way of acquiring talent, and recruiters began to utilize the Internet as a research tool to scout and source talent.
When LinkedIn hit the scene in 2003, and quickly became one of the leading talent acquisition professional social networks. But while technology is a great enabler for finding talent, referrals and networking remain two of the most effective methods for acquiring talent. Talent acquisition depends on interpersonal relationships and connections whether on- or off-line, because people hire people, and talent acquisition is all about people.
TRENDS IN TALENT ACQUISITION
As previously mentioned, social media plays a huge role in acquiring talent these days. It must be leveraged in order to source the best talent out there. While referrals and networking are still the most trusted ways of sourcing talent, social media bridges the gap. Social media is proving to have a major influence on talent acquisition from both sides of the table, by leveraging relationships and connections between friends, peers, colleagues, and the business community to connect people with opportunities. According to research conducted by LinkedIn:
72 percent of active candidates, and 62 percent of passive candidates, viewed a company’s career site
67 percent of active candidates and 53 percent of passive candidates have browsed career opportunities on job board sites
64 percent of active candidates and 58 percent of passive candidates browse career opportunities on social and professional networks
45 percent of active candidates and 21 percent of passive candidate applied for a job online
43 percent of active candidates and 21 percent of passive candidates uploaded their resume to a job app
22 percent of active candidates and 11 percent of passive candidates have downloaded an app in order to apply for a job.
Just like talent recruiters adopted typewriters and Rolodexes to acquire talent in the past, modern recruiters rely heavily on the benefits provided by social media. Social media allows recruiters to cast a much wider net into a much deeper talent pool, including both active and passive candidates. One study found that 43 percent of recruiters use Twitter as a primary means to communicate with candidates. According to a Jobvite survey:
69 percent of recruiters anticipate increased job competition
Recruiters plan to invest 73 percent more in social recruiting and 51 percent more in mobile talent acquisition
93 percent of recruiters use or plan to use social media for talent acquisition in the next year
Social media is a weapon in the war for talent that can’t be ignored.
In the initial recruitment of talent, social media provides a virtual loudspeaker to proclaim open positions in organizations, reaching the eyes and ears of all candidates, both active and passive. For example, a company could use social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter to broadcast targeted industry-related news for its particular field. At the same time, it may have recruiters posting about the industry for potential candidates interested in related jobs, and then advertise those jobs through that commentary. Companies can target and find candidates by tweeting or posting to a Facebook page to find the skills they are looking to acquire, regardless of position.
Social media works both ways. Just as a candidate may choose to apply for a job, at a particular company, because he or she feels they would be a good cultural fit, organizations can do the same (depending on state laws) to determine whether or not a candidate should be pursued. Organizations should always make sure they understand the legalities of using social media in recruiting.
In the larger scheme of talent acquisition, social media can be used to spread a company’s business, mission, and value to brand itself as a place potential candidates want to work. Candidates should be treated like consumers, and social media can promote a company’s workplace culture, as well as influence a potential candidate’s decision about where they want to work. Even
if there is not a position currently available, organizations can utilize
social media to start laying roads and building connections between future candidates—the next generation workforce.
But if recruiters and talent acquirers want to harness the great power
of social media, they must operate on the proper platforms.
There has been an influx of mobile recruiting in the war for talent. Over 77% of the American adult population owns a smartphone; in fact, they own an average of four digital devices. Seventy-eight percent said they would apply for a job on their mobile device if the process was simplified, according to research conducted by Indeed. It simply boils down to convenience. It’s not just a trend for Millennials, either. While 77 percent of candidates aged 16-34 said they used a mobile device for job hunting, 72 percent of those between the ages of 35-44 also cited mobile as a primary job-searching tool, as did 54 percent and 35 percent of those aged 44-54 and 55 and older, respectively. Again, it all has to do with convenience, as 40 percent of prospective job candidates said they prefer to be able to search for jobs “on the go” from their mobile devices.
Digital marketing for those trying to acquire talent has become more important in the new age of recruitment as well. One major push in digital marketing is refining and improving job descriptions. It’s not enough to simply post the title of the position that needs to be filled—it’s the first glimpse of a company the prospective candidate will see. The job description is a way for the company to tell its story. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—like videos, pictures, or gimmick—it has to be compelling. A good job description should be equal parts selling the position to the candidate, illuminating brand story, and master wordsmithing. The LinkedIn research found that what people most expect to find on a company’s career site are:
Current job openings (94 percent)
Description of company culture (72 percent)
Company history (61 percent)
Benefits information (56 percent)
Profiles of current employees (45 percent)