Traditionally, acquiring talent has been viewed as a simple transaction and the nature of that transaction was always orientated more toward employers than employees. But to attract the talent CIOs need for digital business, enterprises must shift how they think about and interact with potential employees.
“Top talent, the talent you want the most, has new power and new expectations,” says Richard Hunter, vice-president and Gartner Fellow. Companies that adhere to old hiring strategies will miss out on the superstar IT talent, which means the company is really losing out on the innovation the talent would have brought.
The traditional tactic of engaging with employees only when you need to hire them and are looking at resumes is an outdated approach. Employment is simply one stage of engagement between an individual and an enterprise, says Hunter. For example, the future employee might be a customer now, or someone who has a significant interest in the company or industry. They might even be involved in the social media surrounding your company, which is how retailer Zappos finds some of its top talent.
“Thinking of them simply as potential employees ignores a lot of the ways you might interact with them or pull them into your orbit,” says Hunter.
When CIOs think about talent, they should take a marketer’s perspective. For example, take into account marketers’ considerations when they think about their customers and markets, such as what motivates a consumer to buy. Think about talent as more than just a skill set. Look into what motivates a person and what will convince her to accept a job offer. CIOs should engage internal marketing departments to see what tools the company uses to effectively market to the industry and determine if they can be adjusted to market for talent.
Candidates are like customers. The established cycle for consumers allows customers to explore, evaluate and potentially engage with a company. Top talent experiences a similar cycle. Potential employees begin with a need to be satisfied, then they explore the options available to them. They evaluate the information they are learning, engage with the company and make a decision whether or not to become an employee. If a person decides to join, they will learn more about the company and make a decision to stay or leave.
“Managing this with a drawer full of resumes is nuts,” says Hunter. “That gives you no insight into where candidates are in their journeys, what they’re thinking about you, what they need to know, what they need to hear from you in order to make the decision to commit.”
While the customer journey is similar to the potential employee journey, think of it less like buying a shirt and more like purchasing a house. It’s not just a simple exchange of benefits and money for labor — it’s a serious decision that will affect both the employee and his immediate family. Companies need to think deeply about what they’re offering top talent.
Fortunately, not much has changed in recent years where top IT talent is concerned. This means there are opportunities for companies to begin making these changes and figure out how to attract the people needed for digital business.
“If you move now you can still get an advantage, because so many others have not yet moved,” says Hunter. “If you wait a few years it’s going to be very difficult to execute these maneuvers, because the pace is picking up dramatically.”