The war for Talent — from Fishing to Farming

It was the rush season at office and I was newest the addition of the HR team looking after the recruitment function. The business was growing and along with that came the never ending demand for resources. With fifteen new employee positions to be filled, customers were furious waiting for the urgent resource demands. Yet the management was careful in on boarding the right member to the family!

When sourcing, it’s not just the technical skills we look for. The personality, attitude, culture fit and other soft skills are equally important. All of this is not easy to find when you are faced with a limited time. This of course is real tough times for our little HR department as it’s not easy to find the best of the best in such a short notice!

This is real ‘war’ for talent and I realized we need a better way to handle this!

Traditionally in recruitment, we have been using an approach similar to ‘fishing’. A demand arises, we publish an ad, promote it on social media and job boards, collect candidates, conduct interviews and it goes on the process.. this is like baiting for fish as and when we become hungry.. Unfortunately it can go either way.. we may catch the fish or may end up in hunger for a long.

Also in fishing we had to start searching from scratch for every vacant position, which is an extremely costly process.

The other common approach used in traditional recruitment is “hunting”. As the name implies, we go after the target without waiting for it to come to us. This method is mostly used to fill positions which require specialized or rare skill set.

One of the challenges in hunting is the corporate having a lesser bargaining power whereas the candidate is in the position of demand. Moreover there are many ethical hurdles to cross in this small industry when it comes to ‘head hunting’.

We are in 2017 and probably the time we need a better strategy for recruitment over these traditional means. This is when we came up with the idea of using “farming” as a new approach to recruitment . This concept is commonly used in sales and marketing but not yet explored much in talent acquisition.

The ideas is to create a potential talent pool outside the organization, stay positioned, continuously nurture and groom as prospective leads.

In simple terms, it’s a three step process.

Seeding Phase: The first step of the process is to use the organizational PR and branding activities as a mean to capture possible contact information of prospective employees as much as possible.

Nurturing Phase: The captured contacts (leads) are then segmented and put through a nurturing process to keep warm and build strong relationship with trust.

Harvest Phase: When the time and need arises, the identified leads will be converted as employees; More like we harvest our crop in a farm!!

The two main elements we need to focus in talent farming are ‘segmentation’ and ‘interaction’. In reality it is not practical and cost effective to ‘manually’ process each and every candidate in the talent pool. That’s where ‘automation’ and a proper digital toolset comes into play. As illustrated below, the automated flow of the talent pool can be done in the form of a funnel.

At the prospect stage, the key focus is to gather as many candidates as possible through activities such as hackathons, meetups, conferences, uni relationship programs, sponsorships, referrals and through direct job applications. Every activity held towards the industry should have the focus of capturing as many contacts as possible.

Once contacts are captured they are put through a segmentation and nurturing process. This can be done through automated relationship management tools such as a CRM. At upper levels of the funnel we may use less expensive nurturing techniques such as sending digital collaterals such as periodic newsletters, blog posts, important industrial updates, etc. As a lead progresses down the funnel more tighter interactions are used such as posting physical collaterals and inviting for corporate events. The aim of nurturing phase is to build high trust and position the company name as a place for a better career.

Now having a well groomed talent pool to pick from, it is easier to do conversions when a need arises. All we need is to have few solid conversion tactics to bring a lead in to the active recruitment process. This process can now be made much shorter as much is already known about the candidate by this time.

Just the way a seed will take its time to sprout and grow, the concept of “farming” in recruitment will take its time before we see the outcome. But farming will give you an opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses of candidates well in advance to make more informed decisions. Moreover some leads who may not be up to expectations currently has the potential to build up over a period of time so they reach the required experience and skills for us to recruit them. This is especially valuable in keeping track of fresh graduates.

However, farming method require a greater effort and planning in the initial phases. The organization should have the courage to persevere until the harvest time comes.

If you dare to disrupt the norms and break the traditional barriers, ‘farming’ might be your way to stay ahead of competition. Give it a go and let me know your comments!

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