Talent acquisition is broken

By Jacob Hsu

The entire talent acquisition value chain is broken. For decades, employers have relied too heavily on biased, pedigree-focused, traditional hiring methods. These have led to higher costs for talent acquisition, lower employee retention and a non-diverse workforce. The pandemic and the “Great Resignation” have only exacerbated the issue.

For employers to find the 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.

Separate skills from talent

The first step to building a new talent acquisition value chain 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 hiring methods 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 applicant pool with higher quality and more diverse candidates.

Finding 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 service engineer.

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. At Catalyte, 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.

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.

Creating a new talent acquisition value chain

All employers can adopt our methods to discover potential and create a more productive and diverse talent acquisition value chain. It starts with investing in talent, rather than overpaying for biased proxies due to perceived convenience.

When you create a new value chain 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.

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

Jacob Hsu, CEO

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

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