Applying Sales and Marketing Strategies to Recruitment
Talent attraction and retention are still very much high on the corporate agenda. It’s increasingly becoming clear that HR directors and CEOs across Europe are focused on attraction, development and retention of the right people in order to give businesses the competitive advantage needed for future growth. But it appears that the new skills shortages across the globe may turn out to be even more complex than before.«Return to Media & PR
We asked Sue Brooks, MD at RPO and talent management specialists Ochre House, to look at how this landscape is changing, and what companies will need to do to in the future…
“With the economy still at an uncertain stage, markets are changing at a faster pace than perhaps at any other time in history. As a result many companies are accepting that the business models which made them successful in the past could have little meaning even in the very near future. In order to thrive they may therefore need to acquire talent from sources well outside their traditional comfort zones. For HR and recruitment professionals this task is daunting indeed.
It is clear from the increasing number of discussions taking place on this topic, that many professionals have realised the traditional model of recruitment, which focuses only on the immediate need, is now hopelessly outdated. Indeed, many organisations are starting to challenge the convention that a post should either be vacant or near vacant before it is seriously addressed.
What is needed instead is a combination of both internal and external market mapping and pipelining to create ‘total workforce planning’. But few, if any businesses, have as yet managed to turn this ideal into a reality.
Whilst many HR specialists see the need to pipeline talent, they are often hampered by generic requests for “100 of X next year’ or inadequate workforce planning at grass roots level. Yet most businesses plan their sales activity well in advance so why not talent acquisition? The problem appears to be a perception that resourcing is a cost rather than a value led activity.
Realistically, the required level of total workforce planning is only likely to be successful if HR can secure buy-in at the very top of the organisation, often from individuals whose traditional view of resourcing is as an overhead rather than as a direct contributor to the bottom line. To be able to achieve this, there is a need support the fact that the alignment of people and business strategies is not an optional luxury, but a commercial imperative. It is just as important to the business as other strategies and should be treated the same. You could ask if the company would be happy to plan its sales and marketing efforts in such a haphazard manner for example. I’m sure the resounding answer would be no! The degree of accuracy expected in forecasting within these activities should be applied to talent resourcing as well in order to provide the ROI value business leaders are so eager to see.
Doing this will not be easy, but it could be helped if HR is able to adopt some of the lessons that sales and marketing functions have learned over the years and to apply them to talent sourcing and management. Recruitment is no longer a passive undertaking where an organisation sets out its stand and waits for candidates to come to it. Companies now need to reach out to their target talent audiences, segmenting them like the most sophisticated marketer, engaging with them like the most enthusiastic and canny salesperson. And this means taking into account, not just present, but also the likely future. Some forward looking businesses, such as Microsoft, are already doing this in a highly effective manner. Its investment in building pools of talent with skills not necessarily suited to specific current roles, but of potential future interest, for example, allowed it to quickly recruit as cloud computing took off and avoid being outflanked by specialist competitors.
Case studies such as these highlight the need for serious attention to the true alignment of talent acquisition to the achievement of strategic business objectives. Effective talent planning has not been fully appreciated in the boardroom or around the partnership table for too long now. But as economic confidence begins to grow and commercial markets continue to rapidly change, there is now a great opportunity to put this right. Failure to take advantage of this before it’s too late is simply not an option.”