The Future of Career Transition: Time to stop wasting talent

April 13, 2016 Greg Simpson

Wasted TalentIf talent is such a valuable commodity, then why do we waste so much of it?

That claim may come as a shock to some in the Career Transition (CT) industry, given that so many organizations claim that retaining and finding new top talent is the principal focus of their human capital strategies. But it’s a reality of the times in which we live.

Today, organizations of all sizes are forced into making rapid, strategic workforce changes. The skills necessary for success today are different than they were a year ago; in a year’s time, the skills equation will change again. That reality requires organizations to constantly transform their workforces as a matter of course. Unfortunately, although necessary and pragmatic, these workforce changes can lead to the inadvertent shedding of legitimate talent.

Even worse, that pool of displaced talent is often left in a state of limbo, not sure why they were let go in the first place and unable to make a connection with other talent-starved organizations.

By any measure, that is a real waste.

This scenario presents an enormous challenge to the CT world. How do we help our clients plan for workforce change to ensure the right people are retained? At the same time, how can we help those same organizations tap into the growing pool of non-working talent?

This tension between the need to move quickly, to hire and fire, requires a more holistic approach to workforce management. What we need is a workforce transformation, where organizations plan ahead, and where possible, act prior to a termination date to shorten landing times and protect the employer’s brand.

This, of course, is easier said than done. In fact, recent innovations in the CT industry have, in many instances, only served to make the situation worse.

In the past decade, there has been a keen focus on shrinking the time to landing by emphasizing technology – particularly online job postings and leads – while de-emphasizing the role of experienced career coaching. This was done both to contain the costs of career transition, and to find the quickest, and most direct path to re-employment for employees in transition.

However, if we in the industry have learned anything over that time, it is that there are limits to our ability to reduce landing time when we rely too much on online job postings. In almost every survey and study of landing times, it was found that candidates have, at most, a 15-per-cent chance of landing a job found via an online posting.

At first blush, this may seem like an anomaly. If you can get candidates in touch with hiring organizations quicker and easier using online technology, why wouldn’t they be more successful in landing those jobs? The missing piece of the puzzle is someone that can broker a relationship between non-working talent and the talent acquisition managers of hiring organizations. Someone who knows both the professional and personal attributes of the non-working talent, and the unique talent requirements of the hiring organization. A workforce professional who realizes that 80 per cent of jobs are not posted online.

Talent brokering is not part of the traditional CT methodology. For many years, we have focused on supporting individual candidates by giving them the skills and helping them to develop the attitudes necessary to land another job. Over time, there has been increased emphasis on connecting candidates with actual job openings. However, all this was being done without anyone acting as broker to ensure the candidate was pursuing the right job opportunity. Someone who can serve as an advocate to give a representative voice during the review process.

In other words, it’s time for the CT world to step up and become an active participant in talent acquisition. What exactly would this entail? There are really three key aspects to the development of this new CT function:

CT firms must help hiring organizations devote more time to non-working talent. This can be a challenge for some organizations that may still view non-working talent as inferior in some way. The fact is that there is a wealth of genuine talent looking for their next jobs, many of them the product of unavoidable changes in business strategy.

CT firms must actively engage with talent acquisition and hiring managers. Although this seems like a no-brainer, there has been a firewall up between CT and talent acquisition. The reality of the modern labor market demands that CT develop direct relationships with the people that are out scouring for talent. This means building partnerships with talent acquisition professionals to help the organization acquire the tools and processes necessary to identify key skills and personal attributes of talent in transition.

Convince organizations to start brokering non-working talent prior to a termination date. This represents the biggest change in mindset. CT firms must work with their organizational clients to plan ahead for potential downsizing, ensuring that top talent is not inadvertently jettisoned. This will also ensure that both the organization and the CT firm have a more detailed picture of those people that may be terminated so that they can be brokered into a new job as quickly as possible. Again, all this should be done before anyone reaches their termination date.

Make no mistake – these three points represent a profound change in the focus of our industry. However, the overriding common sense at play here should provide organizations with the confidence that true talent is not being wasted.

 

 

About the Author

Greg  Simpson

As the Senior Vice President, Career Transition Practice Leader for Lee Hecht Harrison, Greg is responsible for developing, disseminating and monitoring the direction of career transition services for the world’s largest career services firm. This includes identifying and articulating global trends while assisting in the development and implementation of the short and long term global strategy of the organization.

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