The COVID-19 crisis has been transformational for the human capital industry. No talent acquisition (TA) leader – or for that matter, business – could have anticipated and fully prepared for the repercussions of this pandemic. We’re all unlearning, relearning, and just plain learning a lot of things as we come to terms with (and try to make the most of) a constantly changing normal. The faster we do it, the better we’ll be for it.

Having been a part of the recruitment marketing industry for over a decade, my thoughts naturally swung to what the implications could be in our space. Of course, the first thing most businesses are doing is cutting their operational expenditures. Several TA leaders are in the uncomfortable position of having to do more with less – something that a lot of us have dealt with before during economic slowdowns.

A few months ago, Hung Lee had his Recruiting Brainfood livestream marathon, in which some great potential solutions were discussed. In one of the livestreams featuring Gareth Flynn, Managing Director of TQSolutions (one of Australia’s leading Advisory and Solutions firms for Talent Acquisition, Recruitment, and Careers related projects), the emphasis was on a shift away from external recruitment as a first port of call – and on looking at talent engagement and mobility (TEaM) as the first line of defense to fulfil TA needs.

This is something we’ve all wanted to do as an industry for a really long time, but there was never an elegant end-to-end solution to facilitate this at scale. But we’re getting there now. With recent innovations in data science and machine learning, talent engagement and mobility can be accomplished by a platform that captures and delivers deep insights into active employees.

In reality, there is a lot of information we already have about a person who fills a particular role.
As a community, most of us have never really leveraged this data to its full potential, nor have we proactively sought more information consistently. For instance, nine times out of ten, we rarely know of any other skills than those that are listed on a new hire’s CV (or resume). The same is true for a new external candidate – we seldom know how we can target them based on their data to entice them to apply for the right job.

Consumer advertising has been a pioneer of this approach. Marketers invest a lot of time in getting to know who their customers are – as buyers and as individuals. They are incredibly creative in using this type of information to build detailed customer profiles. Marketers then use these profiles to re-engage their customers to have them buy again, and again. This dramatically lowers their customer acquisition costs over time. To me, TA leaders have been struggling to replicate this approach in talent sourcing.

During this ongoing crisis, I’m sure businesses will look to shave off their investments in external recruitment advertising. But at some point (soon, fingers crossed!), the budgets will come back and recruiters would do well to prepare themselves for it. After all, unlike the COVID-19 crisis, the recovery won’t be sneaking up on you!

The right technology solution (backed by data science and machine learning) can empower employers to drive more value from their existing employees, while also enabling a creative use of candidate profiles to optimize (and supercharge!) their recruitment advertising.

This is what TeAM is for me – it’s that replication of consumer advertising best practices, which comes down to getting to know a person, and recording that data in a way that delivers actionable insights to drive internal talent mobility.

Of course, this is possible only by investing additionally in the right technology. But it will help reduce operational expenditures and scale down the reliance on expensive, external candidate sourcing channels. The ROI is undeniable in the long run.

What’s more, it’s the right thing to do ethically – looking after your own. It can help you ensure that you’re not falling short in certain skill areas, you can redeploy, and you can even advertise in a more meaningful way when you do have to go external.

The COVID-19 crisis has set off a series of permanent changes in the world. For TA leaders, it means that recruitment is no longer going to be a matter of, “Okay, we need some folks from outside the organization, here’s your monthly budget, go get them.” Those days are gone. And we can’t afford to be this unprepared ever again. This is the perfect opportunity to rethink and rebuild everything in a far more efficient, data-driven, and fail-safe way.

(Also read this outstanding article on Building Organisational Resilience: The Journey From ‘TA’ to ‘TEaM’ (Talent Engagement and Mobility by Gareth Flynn)

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