Talent acquisition strategies are broken (and how to fix them)

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Talent acquisition strategies are broken. For decades, employers, talent acquisition teams and hiring managers have relied too heavily on biased, pedigree-focused, traditional hiring methods. These have led to higher costs for talent acquisition, lower employee retention and non-diverse workforces.

For organizations to source the top talent they need to succeed, they must build back a forgotten muscle and produce their own entry-level talent. It’s the only way to scale your workforce and remain competitive in an era of supposed resource scarcity.

We’ve identified four ways to fix broken talent acquisition strategies and find top candidates regardless of their background:

  • Separate skills from talent.
  • Find signal in nontraditional talent.
  • Use nontraditional talent as a force multiplier.
  • Ditch the resume.

Implementing these strategies will require leadership to break from the past and from what may seem to be the easiest short-term choice. But, failing to adopt these talent strategies puts your organization behind the curve. It will leave you paying more and getting less. It will leave you struggling to find qualified candidates and the quality and diverse talent you need to fill current vacancies or meet business goals.

Four ways to fix broken talent acquisition strategies

Separate skills from talent

The first step to building a new talent acquisition strategy is to separate skills from talent. Talent, people with the aptitude and ability to perform the jobs in question, exist. They exist in every ZIP code in the country.

But, traditional recruitment strategies focus only on the skills they currently have, not on their latent abilities or capability to quickly learn and utilize new skills. By identifying aptitude and ability, rather than using current skills as a predictor of future success, employers can vastly expand their talent pipeline with higher quality and more diverse job candidates.

Find signal in nontraditional talent

One reason employers still use biased proxies like resumes, prior job experience or education in their talent acquisition processes is because they lack the tools and technology to find “signal” in nontraditional candidates.

Finding this signal is hard. We’ve done this at Catalyte for over 20 years. During that time, we’ve been able to identify over 500 proxies that measure a person’s aptitude, attitude and potential for future success. We can apply these proxies to a number of technology related careers, knowing that the signal for success as a software developer is different from that of a digital media planner or technical support specialist.

We use data to create a more fair, open, inclusive and successful way of discovering and accessing a person’s abilities to succeed in technology careers.

Using data in this manner puts everyone on equal footing. It helps employers evaluate talent based on what they can do on the job, not on what they have done in the past.

Data-driven talent acquisition strategies unlock talent pools that were either previously unknown or unobtainable. They allow you to hire high-performing talent that gives you a competitive edge.

Use nontraditional talent as a force multiplier

Employers have to stop thinking about nontraditional talent as a liability and start thinking of them as a force multiplier. They bring a different set of skills to new roles that add value far beyond just being able to code.

We have two former apprentices who converted to a technology client. One was a former EMT; the other, a corrections officer. Each spent their previous careers saving people and bringing calm and order to chaotic situations.

These skills meant that managing a scrum team is, to them, a nothing burger. No one is going to die committing code. But, should difficult circumstances arise, they have the innate ability to handle situations that a “traditional” software developer doesn’t.

Ditch the resume

Nontraditional talent comes with transferable skill sets, abilities and employee experience that doesn’t always show up on a resume. As in the examples above, a person’s interpersonal skills, how they handle stressful situations, might not fit neatly into an applicant tracking system that the human resources department uses to screen resumes.

Their lack of direct experience means most HR teams wouldn’t have given them a second look. This means the most qualified people don’t have the opportunity to bring their skill sets and talent to bear, and employers are missing out on the best potential candidates.

Ditching the resume can be a scary proposition for HR professionals, talent managers and recruiting teams. It means change. It means adopting new hiring processes. But it also means progress and the ability to tap into better and more diverse talent pipelines.

States like Maryland, Pennsylvania and Colorado are leading the charge in this effort. They are eliminating degree/resume requirements for many state jobs. This will create more equitable talent acquisition strategies, leading to local economies that work for all people. The private sector should take note and adjust accordingly, or else risk losing the best talent to government jobs.

Create a new talent acquisition strategy to find the right talent with Catalyte

All employers and talent management teams can adopt these talent acquisition strategies to discover potential and create more productive and diverse workforces. It starts with investing in talent, rather than overpaying for biased proxies due to perceived convenience.

When you create new talent acquisition strategies based on discovering exceptional potential, investing in a skills transformation process and mentoring/ensuring early career success, you create a more affordable and scalable model and a higher performing workforce than traditional models. You gain the ability to find and hire the top talent needed to meet your business goals.

We’re here to share what we know and help all employers benefit from a new talent acquisition plan. Email us at info@catalyte.io to get started.

You can hear more of thoughts on this topic in the video and podcast below.

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