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Moving Towards an AI-Driven Skills-First Approach, with Forrester and General Motors

Today’s organizations are faced with several challenges, but perhaps one of the most prominent is adapting to new ways of working in the current market. Pamela Stroko, VP of Thought Leadership at Beamery, discussed these challenges during a webinar with Betsy Summers, Principal Analyst on Future of Work at Forrester, and Cyril George, Global Talent Acquisition Director at General Motors.

Business demands are changing faster than ever, and it’s up to organizational leaders to identify new and creative ways to do more for less, by increasing efficiencies across the organization, and unlocking the right talent ‘on demand’, to keep up with increasing economic pressures.

Organizations work to improve adaptability

The pace of change feels like it’s ever increasing, and organizations are struggling to keep up and adapt. As business leaders feel this sense of “change fatigue” (as Betsy Summers called it), the goal for many is to become more resilient when the next big changes present themselves.

Betsy said there are “macro shifts and shocks” that she sees over and over again that today’s organizations are facing. These external factors include things like systemic risks — the pandemic and geopolitical issues. Organizations have tried to prepare for these things, but it isn’t straightforward.

Another external factor that presents a challenge is technology adoption. Many companies are beginning to utilize robots, AI and automation in their workforce, and that presents a whole new set of challenges, including hiring the right talent with the right skills to work with this new technology. Capturing the right data and making sure it’s accurate is an additional challenge (not to mention employee data security and privacy).

So how can organizations be more adaptable in today’s market?

Addressing talent gaps by deconstructing ‘the job’

Pamela and Betsy discussed one of the biggest changes to the job market in recent years which is, the gig economy. Gigs give workers the ability to work when (and often where) they please, and it gives them great flexibility — which is a quality many are looking for in an employer.

Enterprise organizations can learn from the gig economy and apply those same principles to their workplaces. Betsy discussed that in the future state, the ideal scenario would be for business leaders to deconstruct ‘the job’ and break it down into the actual work that needs to be done, and then match talent to those tasks.

This idea of matching talent to tasks on a micro and individualized level allows organizations to better understand the talent gaps they have, and allows employees to fill gaps where their skills can be best utilized.

While that may be a far-off goal for some organizations, in the short-term, workforce planning and talent mobility programs are more attainable goals that business leaders can start with now.

The new employee value proposition

When employers choose ‘the work to be done’ model over ‘the job’ model, it opens up greater opportunities for learning and development, and internal mobility. And when this is done well, there are benefits for both the employee and the employer.

For employees, they get the benefits of more opportunities to upskill and reskill, career mobility, and the visibility to see all the open opportunities that are available within the organization. And for employers, internal mobility programs have proven to decrease operating costs — in particular metrics like cost and time to hire. Other employer benefits include increased retention, productivity, and resilience.

Betsy went on to share that, prior to sophisticated HR tech tools being used for talent mobility, any talent mobility programs that happened were solely based on “who do you know?”. This is both restrictive and worse can entail a lot of bias thereby blocking the company’s DE&I aspirations. But when transparency of opportunities exists, and it’s based on matching skills with the work to be done, you can create a much fairer and more individualized process.

Creating custom career paths is something that today’s top talent greatly appreciates, and it helps keep them engaged long term. Employees are excited about the opportunity to be exposed to other things, and to have input and direction on their development.

The shift to a skills-first approach

Betsy said that many organizations are not currently equipped to meet the quickly changing talent demand within their business. There are a variety of reasons for this, including the fact that talent acquisition teams are stuck in the process of matching keywords to job titles, they are still administering manual skills assessments, or their talent data is outdated in general.

Believe it or not, it’s still pretty common for HR teams to track things like performance review data in spreadsheets. While there’s a time and a place for spreadsheets, talent management isn’t one of them. They become outdated so quickly and if they are not stored where others can access the file, there’s likely a lot of duplication of efforts across the organization.

There are a lot of reasons why organizations aren’t ready to switch to a skills-first approach, but one of the most common is that the HR tech stack simply isn’t ready. If you don’t have the proper tools and technology to keep up with evolving skills data, you won’t be as agile as you need to be in order to keep up with business demand.

Use cases for AI in the workplace

In a recent Forrester study on AI, 74% of respondents said they felt AI could have a positive impact on their organization. At Beamery, we did a similar study and 66% said they felt that AI can make the workplace more fair.

So, with all of this positivity around AI, what’s holding organizations back? One likely answer is the relatively high barriers to implementation. Betsy said that HR tends to be a lot more conservative when it comes to the impact AI could have on their organizations. To reduce friction and get buy-in, it’s helpful to position AI as a ‘helper’ in the HR department. It’s meant to help reduce friction, keep skills data up to date, and make the job of HR and talent acquisition teams easier.

There are many use cases for AI in the HR function. It can help with things like, learning and development programs, recruiting, talent mobility, workforce management, gig marketplaces, and workforce planning.

Our speakers shared a poll with the webinar audience which asked “which areas of HR are you planning to implement AI?” (select all that apply). The results were:

  • Recruiting: 70% Workforce management: 31%
  • Talent mobility: 30%
  • Workforce planning: 28%
  • Learning and development: 26%
  • We are not considering using AI: 11%

As you can see, the vast majority of attendees plan to implement AI into their HR function in at least one way, and only 11% are not planning to use AI at all.

Cyril George mentioned that recruiting in particular has gotten a lot of attention, and rightfully so, because it’s a fantastic use case for AI that all enterprise organizations can benefit from. AI-driven recruiting tools increase the productivity and efficiency of recruiters, which benefits candidates, existing employees and employers.

General Motors: best-in-class candidate experience

Cyril shared some insights about GM’s talent transformation journey thus far. One challenge he shared was around reskilling employees. As the market begins to shift to more and more electric vehicles, certain components will no longer be needed. GM must be proactive and figure out how to upskill and reskill the employees who work with those parts. Other organizations (even outside of the auto and manufacturing industries) will face similar transitions with their staff in the future.

He then talked about GM’s shift away from people applying to jobs, to ‘applying jobs to people’. Instead of advertising a bunch of open roles, what if the system suggested certain roles to employees who had the right skills for the job? Having a CRM and a Talent Marketplace in your HR tech stack makes this possible. GM uses Beamery for their CRM, and it’s now a staple in their Talent Lifecycle Management process.

Cyril shared that the technology they have in their tech stack is so good that you often don’t need resumes anymore. The system is able to make personalized recommendations for each candidate (and existing employee) based on their skills, and managers can weigh in and make recommendations as well. Beamery’s ability to enrich and enhance the skills data means the ever evolving candidates pool is also kept up to date.

The recruiter experience at GM has improved just as much as the candidate experience. For example, Cyril shared that the interview scheduling process has been decreased to about 20 minutes (as opposed to an average of two days of emailing back and forth). Making one small change like that can have such a profound impact on the entire organization, he said, and that compounds with each additional change you make in your talent management process.


With the right tools and technology on your side, you can improve your candidate experience, increase recruiter efficiency, engage and retain employees, and meet your DE&I goals.

General Motors is just one of Beamery’s valued customers who have flipped the script on traditional talent attraction, acquisition, and engagement, and switched over to a skills-first approach to Talent Lifecycle Management.

Read more customer stories from other enterprise organizations who use Beamery in their HR Tech stack to transform their workforce.