Filling your talent pool: A ‘how to’ guide for IT companies

Deloitte’s 2018 global CIO Survey has confirmed this — acquisition and development of tech talent is a challenge; 97 percent of CIOs think so. Often, the need to acquire quality talent in IT tends to take a back seat because of other more pressing forces in the industry. However, that doesn’t undermine the critical nature of talent pool building in any sense. Routine recruitment activity based on demand forecasting is not enough. Companies need to develop highly innovative, continuous, and deliberate approaches for expanding and nurturing their talent pools. Here are some inputs to help you do that.

What’s a talent pool?

Before the ‘how,’ let’s answer the ‘what.’ A loose stat that goes around in HR circles is that only 25 percent of a workforce is actively looking for a new job, but 85 percent of the workplace is willing to talk of new offers! Your talent pool consists of people who’re not yet working for you, and might not even have active applications placed with you. It’s a virtual queue of potential hires that you can rely on to immediately fill open positions with high-quality people. Naturally, talent pools are hard to build and maintain, but worth every effort.

Build a superstar talent brand

talent pool

Whether you make an effort or not, you already have a talent brand — whether good, bad, or great. The employer search process for talented individuals is the equivalent of the buyer search process. Digital talent platforms and job exchange portals are breeding grounds where your company’s talent brand is shaped.

Potential hires can easily find out what your organization’s work culture is all about, and how the experiences of previous and current employees turned out. So, mere marketing hype won’t build the desired talent brand. Instead, CIOs need to focus on creating real positive workplaces and then building branding stories around those realities.

Focused effort on building a talent brand can bring about great results — whether it’s by reducing the time to hire, or helping the company negotiate a good deal with a coveted candidate.

Look beyond STEM skills

IT’s obsession with STEM skills is often talked about. It’s time you looked beyond the traditional skills. This myopia not only constructs the free-flowing nature of your IT talent pool but also means that the candidates find it tough to live up to the dynamic expectations of the modern IT job.

Apart from hard skills that are relatively easier to quantify and measure, you need to consciously look for soft skills. Among these, the most important ones are:

  • Cognitive flexibility: This helps individuals unlearn old and obsolete subjects and quickly learn new subjects, which is a must-have in today’s IT.
  • Emotional intelligence: This helps individuals understand their roles in the context of the entire organization and the business they’re supporting.
  • Creativity: This enables individuals to re-imagine traditional problems and work out novel and effective methods to attack those problems.

Re-engage unsuccessful candidates

Candidates who’ve applied for a role in your company’s IT but didn’t land with the job make for a veritable goldmine that most organizations fail to tap into. Let’s assume you received 300 applications for a vacancy, shortlisted 180, and got the right candidate from the 30th interview, you’d still have 150 potential candidates who could fill the same position sometime in the future.

Because you’ve already invested time in inviting and assessing them to some extent, it makes sense to build robust harvesting processes aimed at collecting all these applicants’ details, for easy and effective outreach in the near future.

Moreover, these candidates are going to improve their skills and will become much more employable in a few months’ time. If you experience sudden location based requirement for IT professionals, you can still rely on your company-wide pool of IT candidates and fill the vacancy.

Nurture the IT culture that attracts top talent

talent pool

Talent pools are a lot about quality, apart from quantity. To attract top talent from all sources, your organization’s IT culture needs to be magnetic. The two key components of building this culture are:

Ability to work with new technologies: Pioneers of technical fields don’t want to be stuck in companies where they’re stonewalled. Instead, they’re looking for companies that embrace change, encourage the use of new technology and rewards employees who showcase cognitive flexibility to learn new skills quickly.

Healthy work environment: A key lesson that enterprises could learn from startups is that of maintaining healthy work environments. Fun, creativity, and inspiration — these are the keywords to remember everytime you think of improving work practices.

The challenge is that cultures that have stratified over decades are difficult to be changed. The onus of taking some hard decisions, hence, falls on the shoulders of the top IT leadership. A key reason why enterprises buy startups and seek services of innovation hubs is that their culture doesn’t let them pose as an attractive employer in the jobs market.

Consciously focus on diversity and inclusion

talent pool

Researchers have proved that organizations with a conscious focus on diversity are able to do better on key business goals. Enterprises that focus on including talented women, members of minority groups, and differently abled individuals in their workforce are much likelier to combat the problem of talent crunch effectively. CIOs need to drive this change, with a focus on eliminating problems such as wage gaps, interview biases, and blemishes in the screening process. Then, digital leaders also need to invest their oversight into work practices that impact how the diverse workforce in IT is able to communicate and collaborate.

It all begins and ends with people

The one asset that makes the difference, everything else kept the same, is people. IT, more than any other enterprise function, needs the services of the most talented people. The talent pool is the proven effective approach for modern organizations to make sure they always have access to the right channels, to fill vacancies, and expand their IT teams. The methods and approaches shared in this guide help you build a massive talent pool.

Featured image: Pixabay

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