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Hiring and Keeping the Right People with Talent Lifecycle Management

With more than half of employees looking to leave their jobs in the next year, and 23% already hunting for their next role, talent teams need to act quickly to hire and retain the right talent. If you are considering how to respond to the changes coming your way, it might be helpful to think about shifting to a more proactive and sustainable approach to hiring and retention: Talent Lifecycle Management.

This should be more than just a tactical response to the effects of the pandemic. The skills gap was present before, and it’s only widened since then, with 87% of companies experiencing skill gaps now or expecting them over the next few years. You need to develop long-lasting strategies that manage talent throughout its life in your business – from hiring to development to exit. 

By focusing on skills, you can start to do just that. You get better visibility, and a more granular understanding, of both external and internal talent, so you can better define your talent pipeline, tailor your outreach campaigns, personalise your internal mobility programmes, and start forecasting based on existing – and future – company needs. In short, a skills-based approach allows you to start hiring and retaining the right people for today and tomorrow.


Hiring the right people

Rather than thinking in terms of roles and titles, Talent Lifecycle Management allows you to pinpoint which skills your business actually needs or will need in the future, rather than just hiring more of the same. Instead of hiring another ‘Junior Developer’, you can start to target and hire for specific skill sets – hiring for experience with specific components or leadership skills, but also for interests and future potential.

That’s all the more important if you’re looking for specialist talent. When the pandemic began at the start of 2020, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca had to quickly identify, engage and hire an entirely new vaccine team, at a time when all of its competitors were doing exactly the same thing.

While they already had a large database of previous candidates, it was hard to search and surface talent. So they integrated the data from their applicant tracking system into their CRM to search through previous candidates and find the most promising, separating them into different talent pools based on skills. In so doing, they established a more granular talent pipeline, and the talent team was empowered to more accurately identify the candidates they wanted to target so they could create tailored, automated outreach campaigns to attract them and keep them engaged.

By taking this approach, the company ended up filling over 1,000 roles over the course of the pandemic, and scaled up to a manufacturing capacity of three billion doses of the vaccine to ensure fair worldwide distribution.

As well as attracting the right specialist talent, taking a lifecycle approach to talent acquisition also helps you to access untapped talent and increase the diversity of your talent pool.

You can start to look beyond a candidate’s years of experience and technical skills and see their potential trajectory: where they want to go next, and how you can help them get there. Skills you can develop, but it’s harder to change somebody’s attitudes and behaviours. If you hire for potential and train for skills, you widen the top of your talent funnel, opening up opportunities for people you might not have considered for the role previously.


Internal visibility and mobility

Adopting a Talent Lifecycle Management approach goes beyond just talent acquisition. It also allows you to better understand, develop and deploy your existing talent, which is vital in a competitive hiring market.

Traditionally, talent teams have had better visibility of external talent – with a database of applications and CVs building up overtime – but have lacked that same visibility of internal talent. You know how many product analysts you have, but do you know each individual’s skill set? Do you know what they’re interested in and how they want to progress in their career?

This lack of visibility of internal skills – and lack of visibility of internal opportunities for employees – has real impacts on the employee experience and your business goals. If your existing employees are passed over for internal jobs for which they’re a great fit, they lose out on an opportunity to grow, and your business loses the agility that comes with internal mobility.

But if you start to create a complete picture of your company’s skill portfolio, you can tap into this agility: identifying skill gaps in departments and projects and helping existing employees to fill them with tailored development programmes and growth paths.


Talent Lifecycle Management for both hiring and retaining the right people

Improving internal mobility with this skills-based approach also allows you to retain your top talent. Many want to leave their current role, but 74% of employees believe that they’ll find that new role with their current employer – a big opportunity for talent teams with the right visibility on their internal candidates, and the willingness to offer them the support and development they need.

Construction company Balfour Beatty, for example, invited employees identified as at risk of leaving to an internal careers community, capturing key data about their existing skills and development goals in the process. The talent team then suggested relevant jobs and built tailored learning routes to help redeploy them in the business. They helped their best employees get where they wanted to go, developed their marketplace of skills and filled critical roles, all at the same time.

And if an employee did ultimately choose to leave, the talent team already had the data to identify high-value leavers. They could then invite them to an alumni community, keeping in touch and keeping the door open if they ever wanted to return. 


Linking talent to strategy and value

So by managing talent through its entire life cycle at your company, and taking a skills-based approach to that talent, you can start to map the flows of skills into, out of and through your organisation. It creates the foundation for a powerful talent strategy beyond just improving acquisition and retention. 

You can start to forecast your skill needs – both now and into the future – so rather than just reacting to skill gaps and risks, you can start to anticipate what skills you’ll need and when, giving you a powerful lens into the ability of your business to deliver on its goals.

In turn, you can then think more strategically about where to place and develop your talent. You can map skills against project and business goals, and begin to ask “where and when will that person and those skills return the most value for the business?” – creating more valuable opportunities for your employees and tying your talent efforts more closely to the bottom line.