The importance of effective talent acquisition

14 Mar 2019 By Zoe Morris

Businesses need to learn to nurture and take responsibility for the talent they take on, argues Zoe Morris

In an age where businesses are desperately searching for talented staff who can hit the ground running in their organisation, industries across the board are facing a skills gap epidemic.

According to research from the Inclusionary Leadership Group, the talent shortage is predicted to hit 23 million employees by 2020. Given the void between skills acquired in higher education and those that come as a result of genuine work experience, it’s unrealistic to expect to find staff who can make a valuable contribution without you first providing training.

There are, of course, several elements to talent acquisition – it isn’t just about locating the best talent, it’s about nurturing their skills to mould them into the best employee they can be. Businesses need to take more responsibility for the quality of their onboarding and training resources for new staff members, as well as training their talent acquisition team to know exactly what to look for when making a hire.

What has caused the skills gap?

We’re sometimes guilty of treating the skills gap as a new concept that has taken us all by surprise, when really this isn’t the case; it has always existed. It’s only in recent times, when university education has become more accessible and therefore produced a higher volume of candidates, that the skills gap is more apparent.

What’s more, due to innovation and evolving technology, modern businesses have become very refined in their mission statements and job roles. You can’t expect universities to have all the resources required to educate students in a field that has only just come into existence. This is why bridging the gap is vital.

Some businesses have taken to attending events to meet top talent and launch their recruitment drive in person. This is particularly effective at technology or industry-focused events – you’d be amazed at what you can learn about candidate requirements just by speaking to professionals one-to-one. These events also present the perfect opportunity to speak to other businesses about their recruitment strategy.

Others have attempted to reduce the skills gap by offering graduate training schemes, or even making partnerships with local universities to introduce modules covering particular software or coding languages, so candidates can then be fed into organisations as junior members of the team. However, these programmes can be difficult to establish, which is why proper planning and budgeting is imperative.

Budgeting for both recruitment and training

One thing is clear – businesses need to take ownership of their in-house training and budget for it in the same way they budget for recruitment. A robust training programme can be challenging to establish, but it will pay dividends when your workforce is filled with talented professionals who are fully invested in their job role.

While recruitment itself carries a number of associated costs, such as candidate sourcing, screening, job boards and interviewing, these can be mitigated. Give your talent acquisition team proper recruitment training so they become aware of some of the more common pitfalls businesses experience when hiring.

This could be anything from learning how to explore specific talent pools and writing an effective job specification to interacting with candidates in ways that sell the employer brand. These are all skills that must be absorbed and refined by recruiters if they want to identify the best talent.

After all, with the average employee costing around £11,000 to replace, it makes far more sense to invest in your talent acquisition team so you can get the perfect team member on board at the first time of asking.

Should I work with a recruiter?

The individual costs associated with hiring and training a talent acquisition team can be enough to deter businesses from handling their own recruitment. It’s easy to understand why – working with a recruiter will likely work out to be less expensive than the sum of all these costs, so where the bottom line is concerned, a recruiter is the way to go.

Recruiters also benefit from market expertise. With an in-house talent acquisition team, they could be tasked with hiring everyone from sales staff to high-level web programmers; job roles where there’s barely any crossover. 

With recruiters being specialists in job roles, technologies, or industries, they will have access to a greater talent pool and hold the level of understanding required to not only understand which candidate to look for, but how to get them on board too.

The skills gap is prevalent in 2019, and this shows no signs of disappearing. But by taking steps to bridge the skills gap, while strengthening your own talent acquisition efforts, you can be sure to locate the finest professionals from your talent pool while mitigating unnecessary costs.

Zoe Morris is president of IT staffing firm Mason Frank International

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