Why seek far afield when the good is so close by! – as Goethe once put it. And let’s be honest: He makes a good point! For companies to thrive it takes both: the breath of fresh air that new employees bring with them, but also – and especially – the focus on talent that has long been available within the company. And ideally, HR activities targeting both groups go hand in hand. In this context, Josh Bersin speaks of a “marriage” between recruiting and talent mobility in the company. The metaphor sums it up quite well. In contrast to a complete merger, both tasks – the external search for applicants and internal employee development – remain separate and complex areas in a “marriage”. From now on, however, the teams active in these areas will work together, exchange ideas, and do many things together, based on a similar understanding of values and the agreement to consider and often directly involve the partner in everything that is done.
Strategically integrate internal talent mobility
A close connection between external talent acquisition and internal talent mobility is desirable and worthwhile from many points of view. With the help of digital technology, companies are constantly opening up new business areas, the pressure to innovate is increasing, and so are customers’ demands for transparency and sustainability. For all these developments, companies need capable employees who can navigate in a dynamic environment confidently, have good ideas, and also implement them. Correspondingly, the demand for talent in the open labor market is high. Focusing more on recruiting internal talent can alleviate that pressure. Many open positions in the company are potential development opportunities for existing employees. Strategically including them in recruiting, rather than just selectively, results in a much larger pool of candidates for specific jobs and roles. It also reduces the risk of filling positions with people who later turn out to be a bad fit for the company. Existing employees are already familiar – often for many years – with the company’s culture and products. Studies have repeatedly shown that many of them are willing to learn new skills and develop within the company.
Prerequisites for talent mobility
Using talent mobility strategically for recruiting – how is that done? – Most importantly, the conditions for internal mobility have to be created. And along with that, opportunities for employees to advance their training and throw their hat in the game according to their wishes, interests, and possibly already existing skills for new tasks. These prerequisites include:
- Company-wide networking: Employees must be able to exchange ideas with colleagues in other areas and at other locations (worldwide) directly and digitally.
- Collaboration: They need (digital) spaces and tools to collaborate across departments.
- Learning: Learning new skills must be easily attainable for all employees. Learning opportunities must be available regardless of time and location and tailored to diverse learning preferences.
- Matching: Talent supply and demand must be matched without complicated control processes and with minimal prejudice.
- Talent suggestions and pooling: Employees must be able to find open positions. This process can not be left to chance or error-prone existing systems but instead should be automated. Managers, on the other hand, need to be able to create competency-based talent pools of employees suggested to them for specific tasks, from which they can draw when hiring.
Digital talent marketplaces promote talent mobility
Modern digital talent marketplaces provide these functionalities and thus promote talent mobility within the company. At the same time, they continuously provide valuable data about existing skills to both the recruiting team and the partner team from talent development. This way, they make an important contribution to ensuring that suitable candidates within the company learn about open positions and that missing skills are sought through external recruiting.
Digital talent marketplaces that are designed to be easily accessible by employees through their own initiative give HR professionals in recruiting and talent development the freedom to think about talent mobility in a truly holistic and strategic way and to optimize existing offerings. For Josh Bersin, talent mobility has three directions:
- Movement of new employees into the company,
- Movement of existing employees within the company, and
- Movement of former employees back into the company.
Internal mobility for more successful recruiting
Only those who view the organization as a living organism and not as a rigid structure can cleverly counter this dynamic. Recognizing external and internal developments, global workforce trends, and existing talent in every corner of the organization as a coherent strategic area of corporate management and positioning it well in terms of personnel will become even more important in the future. In this context, pronounced internal mobility has a positive effect on the success of external recruiting measures. Three examples:
- Diversity: Through the automated and unbiased suggestion of suitable job offers to internal candidates or by placing them in the talent pool for selected projects, the foundation is laid for diversity and variety in staffing. Diversely staffed positions and a high level of equal opportunity within the company, in turn, attract the right talent from outside.
- Fluctuation: Employees who have the opportunity to develop within the company and pursue new career paths in a self-determined way, tend to stay with a company longer. According to the “2021 State of Internal Recruiting Report” by Smart Recruiters, top performers are 20 percent more likely to stay with the company if they can change their role or area of influence as needed. Low turnover in the workforce, in turn, has a positive effect on the employer brand as perceived by potential candidates from the outside. The chance that other high performers will want to join the company increases.
- Candidate experience: The internal focus on roles and required skills, and the associated situational approach to filling roles, makes it very likely that external recruiting will also focus more on what is needed at any given time. A short-sighted fixation on classic CVs and old-fashioned assessment centers, which tend to scare off rather than encourage new candidates, definitely no longer have a place here. Instead of checking off static requirement profiles, recruiters talk to the candidates and focus more on soft skills such as willingness to learn, creativity, and enthusiasm for responsibility.
Let’s put it this way: a recruiting department and an internal talent development group that work hand-in-hand are a real dream team – in good times and bad.