Eighty seven percent of companies are experiencing skill gaps now or expect them within a few years, according to a recent McKinsey survey. And as the way work gets done changes, employees are looking to learn new skills to keep up. To fill these gaps and help their employees keep learning and growing, companies need to break free of old models. One of the ways they can do that is by exploring talent lifecycle management strategies.
The modern talent team needs to think not in terms of roles, but skills. Focusing on skills gives you a more complete picture of each individual so you can manage talent more effectively through the whole lifecycle – from prospect to promotion and beyond. That is what we call talent lifecycle management.
Why you should consider talent lifecycle management strategies
By honing in on skills rather than roles, you can more accurately find the talent you really need, whether internally or externally. You can pinpoint which skills are mission critical – those that will help deliver your company’s promise to your customers – so you can better prioritise your hiring and internal learning programmes.
This approach also allows you to source and develop skills internally more effectively, which in turn helps to retain talent. You can help your employees see what skills they need to learn to take on new responsibilities or move into a new role, and offer a bespoke learning plan to help them get there.
And the pandemic has made this all the more pressing. Sixty nine percent of businesses are doing more skill building now than before the pandemic, according to a recent McKinsey survey, and 46 percent are increasing the redeployment of talent in their business as they look to close skill gaps.
A skills-based approach to talent lifecycle management also gives larger businesses some of the agility of a startup. Early employees in a startup have to jump from role to role as priorities change, mastering different skills as they go. This is possible in an environment where everyone has visibility of what needs to be done and what skills are available. Larger businesses generally lack this ability, but if you have 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.
But while plugging the skills gap is a priority, only one third of companies are prepared to do so.
Think skills, not roles
The talent lifecycle management approach requires HR teams to handle human capital in a comprehensive, holistic way, thinking in terms of skills and working to understand the entire skill portfolio of their business. This enables talent teams to understand their workforce at a much more granular level and better see the opportunities for growth.
This approach also allows HR to benefit from the recent shift to remote and hybrid work, and the longer running trend of a more mixed workforce. When 40 percent of a business is made up of non-permanent talent, focusing on skills rather than roles gives you more flexibility in finding the best way to close the gaps – there are more opportunities for employees and more opportunities for employers to find the right talent.
Get the big picture with data
Data sits at the core of talent lifecycle management. With the right data you can present a complete picture of the skills your organisation has and the skills it needs, giving you a better idea of what skills you can develop internally and which you need to hire for.
And by connecting information from across the employee lifecycle – from the minute they become a candidate through to the way you recruit, onboard and develop them – you get a holistic view of each individual. This allows you to see their existing skills and where they can develop.
Of course, your data doesn’t exist in one big, neat table. In reality, it’s a mess of structured and unstructured data spread across different apps, documents and databases. To be effective, your data needs to be unified, cleaned, and properly maintained in a centralised platform.
A centralised talent data platform acts as the source of truth for talent-related information: a central database that unifies information from different data sources, and serves up meaningful, reliable data to every other talent tool you use. That way, every team that consumes talent data – sourcers, people experience, employer branding, recruitment events, as well as the wider business – is working with the same single view of the employee. There’s a shared understanding of what skills you have as a business and where the gaps are, so you can develop your talent throughout its whole life cycle in a coherent way.
Find hidden skills and recommend roadmaps with AI tools
You can pair this data with artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help you spot the gaps, and seek and develop the right skills externally and internally.
Semantic AI, for example, allows you to automate the extraction of skills from job applications, CVs and employee profiles. You can infer skills from job titles, descriptions of previous roles, and descriptions of volunteer work and side projects – helping you to find those “hidden” skills that might have been developed outside of formal positions. This enables you to more clearly define the requirements when writing job descriptions, better evaluate external candidates, carry out more accurate skills gap analysis, and help develop your existing talent.
With the right internal data, you can also use AI to recommend roles that might be of interest to existing employees and suggest the skills they need to get there, offering them a tailored learning path to map out their future at your company.
A new model for the new normal
Just as the best talent grows and learns throughout their careers, the HR teams best equipped to thrive in the new normal will be those ready to reshape their approach to talent. By focusing on skills and taking a data-based approach to talent management, you get a holistic approach of your workforce so you can see where the opportunities for growth are, driving your talent acquisition and people experience strategies.
By building up skills and managing talent throughout the entire lifecycle, you can build a more resilient, flexible talent pool and pipeline ready to adapt to any future challenge.