We have been through a year of unpredictable events, and with the future course of the pandemic still unclear, many organisations are finding it difficult to predict what the recruitment landscape will look like in the foreseeable future. As we are seeing right now, circumstances can change overnight, and unanticipated events can have a lasting impact on our revenue, resources and teams.

From a workforce perspective, there is one thing we can be certain: companies’ needs will continue to change. Some organisations are being forced to make tough decisions due to reduced demand for their products and services. Many now find themselves in a period of unexpected growth. How long this situation will last is yet to be seen.

Despite uncertainty, the wheel of the talent acquisition machine never stops turning and success will continue to be determined by planning an effective strategy with the right balance of people, process and technology. The difference now, in a world of global pandemic and in the face of constant change, is that the approach to talent acquisition needs to be more strategic, innovative, and agile.

This is, of course, much easier said than done. In our recent survey of 620 talent acquisition professionals, 7 out of 10 respondents are planning for short-term hiring only and around 30 percent lack a post-pandemic plan. What is more, 3 out of 4 rate their own talent strategies as basic, meaning they make only limited use of data and technology, and are not fully integrated with business goals.

Rather than stopping on the path, organisations that want to rise in the talent maturity scale are building a bridge to effective planning by viewing their talent acquisition challenges through a people lens—with processes and technology as an enabler of their strategy.

How do you plan effectively when you have no idea what you are planning for? Here are the recommendations.

Be closer to the business.

You must do much more than simply react to unfolding events. You need to connect with the wider organisation, understand business goals and talent objectives, and anticipate future needs. This is what it means to be a strategic talent acquisition function.

To be strategic in talent acquisition you must do more than simply react to unfolding events. Click To Tweet

To anticipate future needs, strategic workforce planning (SWP) can be a strong ally. SWP delivers two critical advantages: It helps understand if an organisation has, or can obtain, the workforce to execute their business strategy. It also assists HR leaders in reorganising, shaping, and deploying the workforce to deliver on their companies’ business objectives. One of the advantages of SWP in uncertain times is that you can leverage statistical analysis and predictive modelling to anticipate supply and demand, significantly reducing forecast error rates.

Be innovative, continuously create better experiences for all users.

In a Korn Ferry study, three-quarters of respondents say it is unlikely they would accept a job offer if they were treated poorly during the recruiting experience, even if they felt the role was a good fit.

In addition, more than half (56 percent) say it is unlikely that they would remain a customer of a company if they had a bad experience as a candidate, and more than a third (34 percent) say they would also be likely to urge their friends and family members to stop being a customer.

Innovation in talent acquisition is a mindset that never accepts the current way as the best way, and that is constantly looking for opportunities to improve the candidate experience.

While technology is often a key enabler of innovation, your starting point should always be people. You have to answer questions such as: Has every stage of the candidate journey really been designed with the candidate in mind? Where could you make talent acquisition processes simpler for users? Where could you make the process faster, fairer, more engaging, more intuitive?

While technology is often a key enabler of innovation, your starting point should always be people. Click To Tweet

Be agile, scale faster by thinking skills, not roles.

A recent Gartner study found that the skills needed in jobs have an increasingly short shelf life, and only 29% of new hires are highly prepared with the skills needed for their role, and less than a quarter are prepared with skills needed for the future.

The right technology can help you become more agile in identifying critical capabilities at scale. Success Profiles are one of the tools that can be used to increase this agility. Skills such as adaptability, empathy, and collaboration are increasingly sought-after. By providing an objective benchmark of what is required for optimal performance, Success Profiles help you predict what skills you need to deliver business strategy, identify gaps within your workforce, and create a plan to secure the right talent, whether through upskilling, reskilling or external sourcing.

The upheaval of 2020 had many organisations scrambling to adopt more strategic talent acquisition practices to manage both the downturn and upswing all within in a very short time span. To become more strategic, you need to build a people-centric talent acquisition machine. When you put people first, backed by the right technology and processes, you make more informed business decisions, create better experiences for candidates, and plan more effectively for an uncertain future.

To learn more about how a people-first approach to talent acquisition prepares you for anything, download our latest report: The people plan.

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About the contributor

Pip Eastman is the Managing Director for APAC Regional Solutions, RPO and Professional Search, Korn Ferry. She is responsible for the performance and growth of the APAC business; developing new clients, enhancing market presence and integrating RPO and Professional Search’s lines of business into existing clients. Pip has extensive experience in solution design. Her responsibilities included client development, contract and commercial negotiations, and the implementation, operational delivery, and continuous improvement of projects.

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