Best Practices in HR

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  September 24, 2017

New Talent Pipelines for the Automated Age (AI)

by KC Donovan

For the past few years we’ve all heard about how the world of work is quickly changing and gearing up for a massive shift. Whether you are a believer or not, one thing history has taught us is that technology will continue to push the limits of how we do things.

As an industry, in Talent Acquisition (TA) we’re on the world of work front lines, so paying attention is pretty important. We can already see technology changes creeping in, like scheduling candidates using automated tools like Calend.ly & ScheduleOnce. Job descriptions are getting a hand with software from Textio & Grammarly. Recruiting marketing software companies like Clinch are delivering automated capabilities to build better career sites, nurture, engage and convert prospects to applicants.

This activity is expected to continue, with some predicting as much as 80% of the TA workflow being automated. This means that Hiring Manager interactions, referrals, assessment, interviews, on-boarding could all fall under the axe of automation. The predictions are that industries like ours will lose 80% of the people doing the work.

As a “half full glass” kind of guy, I see this as a huge opportunity for TA leaders to embrace the efficiencies technology is bringing and remake the way recruiting is done.

For 12 years, I owned a company that spent all its time targeting certain in-demand talent functions by industry. My staff spent their time uncovering every single person at every company that did that type of work. Then they connected with all of them to find out what they loved to do. We never sold a job. Once the talent understood that we were more interested in what they wanted the relationship prospered. After gaining rapport, we told them that if something came along that fit what they loved, we’d share it. We always had several people we knew to present to our clients.

This is what I think corporate TA should do for themselves, and with 80% of the typical TA workflow automated, recruiters will have the time to do it. There’s no question that for large enterprise companies, some of the relationship building will need to also be automated so the effort can scale with the thousands of hires needed each year, but that’s embracing technology too.

The key is to realign the thinking from process driven, administrative type recruiter activity, to one that requires relationship building. This can be managed by changing the way we measure a recruiter’s success. Instead of tracking time to fill, measuring time to present an opening to a prospect will send a clear message. Measuring the number of people in a recruiter pipeline that is near active and ready to listen when the right opening is presented is another. Essentially, pipeline activity in itself will need to be re-evaluated.

Pipelining in the Age of AI

I crafted a different approach that I think many will benefit from. It’s a different workflow and should deliver qualified, interested and available prospects with fewer competitive complications. It is activity that will seem labor intensive, but there are tons of software tools to make the job easier, and in the near future you may have 80% extra time to work on it!

Here’s the pipeline recipe in two steps:

Talent Pipeline Management – Step One

  1. Draw concentric circles around the geographic focus area and isolate the preferred companies found within.
  2. Research and uncover every single person that does the needed functional work at these companies (craft a chart with all the names and titles).
  3. Research and denote those who are “making noise” in the industry from this group (speakers, bloggers, commenters, etc.).
  4. Network with your internal functional team (not just management), ask who/what they know about your “targets.”
  5. Network with new hires from companies on your target list, ask about your targets as well.

Talent Pipeline Management – Step Two

  1. Uncover “near active” prospect – response levers
    1. Employment anniversary dates
    2. Milestone birthdays (30, 35, 40, etc.)
    3. Competitive company volatility (potential M&A, etc.)
    4. Prospects in a role longer than any previous one
    5. Others, etc.
  2. Track this intel for every prospect in your Talent Map and cross reference openings with those most likely to respond at a given time
  3. When an opening is posted, tap into the most likely to respond group of “near active” prospects who are functionally and geographically targeted
  4. Use the intel collected in Step One for personalizing the introductory messages you send
  5. Approximately 35% of these prospects will be waiting to learn about your openings and most will be entering the job market for the first time in a long while

By focusing on freshly ignited “near active” talent, you’ll increase the hiring odds with fewer competing offers for our recruiters to contend with. By only submitting top performers, more hires will be made. That’s what I call a recruiting win.