What is happening with global talent?

Written by
Mary Appleton

04 Sep 2015

04 Sep 2015 • by Mary Appleton

What strategies can build future talent?

Colin Minto, group head of resourcing & HR systems, G4S (CM): In 2010, G4S introduced the world’s first community- and job board-based career centre, integrated with many of its applicant tracking systems. Job seekers can create a G4S candidate profile by uploading their CV so they can be matched to every new job that goes live in the system. Both the candidate and recruiter are alerted to each match.

We also introduced a job seeker resources section with self-help videos, downloads and a CV builder to link visitors to our brand. We actively support candidates to prepare and equip themselves to get a job with us or any business globally. Coupled with community groups that engage with internal and external job seekers, all of this has built a future talent pool of just over 1.5 million candidates and filled up to 80% of our operational roles. We currently recruit approximately 200,000 people annually.

Gemma Lines, head of resourcing EMEA, Citi (GL): We have clarified where and how HR can drive commercial value for the organisation (moving closer to the Ulrich model), and recruiting is no exception. Our internal recruitment strategy and model is fit for purpose and ready to take on the challenges of the war for talent in this climate and for the next 10 years. You need to be clear about what ‘great’ looks like internally before you can find it externally.

As an organisation, we are clear about what our talent strategy is – which roles are critical and should be filled by our best employees. For example, we’ve done a lot of work looking at things like leadership standards and what it means to be successful here. That flows through into the recruitment process. Our leadership standards translate into competencies against which we can interview at each level. Our recruiters are no longer ‘order-takers’ – they are having conversations with business heads, addressing questions such as: “What is the shape of your business?”, “where are your revenues coming from?”, “where are the gaps and how do we fill them?”.

Ali Gilani, global head of resourcing, ArcelorMittal (AG): We heavily review our internal talent pools to ensure we have pipelines to allow people to progress into senior roles. If we don’t implement on-the-job training, people will not be ready to move into these positions in time.

When there are positions that we need to recruit externally, we will do so. This will usually be for one of three reasons: we don’t have a specific skill set in the organisation to fill the role, we have the skill set but no one with the right level of expertise, or we may have successors but no one to replace them.

We have a large number of senior roles for which we have successors, but at some point we will have a gap and need to backfill. We need to build skill-sets and capabilities and put people through a career-based training programme to make them ready for future positions.

Hiring female employees is another key focus. We also need to ensure that once people are hired, we live up to our own hype. Diversity is key but we want to focus on inclusion – we don’t want to just hit numbers.

Rather than focusing on ‘showpiece’ recruitment – hiring one or two senior women into the organisation – we want to build the sustainable evolution of our workforce by bringing in more women at all levels and removing barriers to success. 

How do you attract top talent?

CM: We believe in telling authentic stories through our existing employees via the career centre and social channels to enable people to opt in or out of applying. G4S is arguably one of the world’s most diverse employers, so we have a responsibility not to just drive traffic to our opportunities. We operate and provide a multi-award-winning career centre and candidate experience with knowledge learning and connections – and let the candidate decide.

GL: We have a sophisticated EVP which we try to feed into our recruiting materials. Typically we hire between 7,500 and 9,000 people each year, which translates into thousands of interviews.

Our hiring managers are very good when it comes to promoting the organisation. At graduate level you cannot go out on campus unless you have gone through assessor training, which we provide to all of our managers. I would like to move this to the fore in other areas of the process too.

We equip our hiring managers with strong toolkits – containing materials that recruiters can use against competency standards. Like many financial services organisations these days, we have a huge drive on ethics.

AG: In the past few years, our organisation's entrepreneurial spirit has attracted a lot of talent. Our entrepreneurial ethos is driven right across the business.

Being truly global means that employees are not limited to working in one country or area. In fact, we actively encourage our future leaders to spend time in other countries so they can experience different cultures. We have about 250,000 people operating in 60 locations worldwide.

What global resourcing challenges are you facing?

CM: One of the biggest challenges is in the sheer scale of the need to resource and deploy the very best people globally. Our recruitment has sometimes been described as a well-oiled machine, so our focus is on making the candidate experience engaging, rewarding and fast.

We try to stay ahead of the competition by asking questions of the most important people in the process – the candidates. We have an end-to-end resourcing strategy and award-winning technology, but the barometer of its success is how this manifests as an experience for those wanting to work for us.

GL: Top of my agenda is to ensure we have a healthy talent pipeline at all levels in geographies where recruitment and retention can difficult.

Some geographies present challenges such as differing education systems, draconian employment legislation, lack of people, nationalisation targets and so on.

At the other end, we are struggling with the retention of junior talent in the investment banking area – a tactical challenge faced by the sector as a whole. We need to ensure we are making investment banking as attractive as it used to be for junior talent. This will reduce the risk of candidates being poached by other sectors within the financial services industry.

I’m also mindful of our readiness to respond to what is an ever-changing recruitment landscape. We have a clear distinction between strategic recruitment counsel and transactional recruitment, something we feel is very important. This is strategic in its delivery. We’ve tried to be clear that we are looking for people who do not need to earn credentials through turning hires alone – our business demands more.

AG: It’s the same challenge that’s facing many other engineering organisations – during the past 20-30 years, the number of people studying engineering at university in developed countries has dropped considerably. These people are key to the continuation of the organisation and to its success.

How do we ensure we still have a pipeline of good engineering talent? In some countries we have strong apprenticeship schemes. Meanwhile we work with colleges and schools to promote engineering and metallurgical science subjects, supporting lectureships and sponsoring students. 

Whats your advice for attracting global talent?

CM: Tell it as it is. You could argue that active job seekers are increasingly seen as a commodity thanks to tools such as job boards and social media. It’s so easy to apply for multiple roles at the click of a button – this demonstrably increases the volume of applicants received per job.

However, I regularly challenge the ‘Klondike rush’ to use social media and mobile, because these methods are only relevant if there is a clear business case for them. If social media and mobile career centre functionality is where you are going to drive most value in your attraction strategy, then invest in them heavily. If not, focus on those channels that work, such as job boards and CV databases. Just because it’s on trend, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s effective.

GL: A lot of generational theory is very flaky and untested, so be wary of building a specific Generation Y strategy. Listen to the critical mass that is your juniors, what they want and need – give them a voice. More than ever before, this is a two-way generation. They expect feedback, want dialogue and will tell you how you’re doing. You need to eavesdrop on the conversation so you can form a smart strategy externally.

AG: Being aware of the needs you have in the next five years is crucial. We do a strategic workforce plan to identify where the gaps are first, rather than saying: “There’s a shortage of talent, let’s go and hire people”. We take a step back and ask: “Who are we trying to hire?”

It’s good to put in place an EVP, talent and branding strategy, but once the person has joined you, does the experience of being an employee live up to the hype that you created? Ensure you have a strong ability to develop talent internally so that once you have attracted these people, you ensure they go on a career journey in your organisation. This way, they can develop, learn and contribute not only to your business goals but to their own careers.

How has the economic climate altered recruitment?

CM: It depends on the country, culture and industry sector, but I genuinely hope talented individuals want to work for transparent and values-led organisations.

As we integrated some very innovative candidate-surveying technology into our career centre in 2011, we know exactly how tens of thousands of global job-seekers perceive G4S and what this same audience expects from a career with us.

Having this strategic insight into our target audience ensures we are equipped for fluctuations in demand, availability and external financial influences.

GL: We need to be clearer and more expansive when we are out on campus talking to potential hires about what we do for society at large. Regrettably there are people who, as a result of the economic crisis, will never work for a bank. The challenge for us is to get better at explaining what we do, how we do it, and demonstrate that we have people with high integrity working in the sector.

This generation will have portfolio careers. They expect to – and will – move jobs. They want progression quickly. Many organisations are just not in a position to give people a job for life, so employers need to respond to that.

AG: Younger people are more clued-up than my generation, partly due to the availability of knowledge. People are much more aware – they research stuff and have a socially responsible aspect, partly thanks to a better understanding of the impact we are having on the economic climate. People want to know what your company is doing for the planet. I’m seeing more discussions and questions around what you give back to the world.

Larger organisations need to be cognisant of this factor and ensure they are giving something back to the communities they work in.

Where do you see the future of recruitment?

CM: Tools and methodologies will continually innovate and drive small incremental value step changes. The biggest opportunity for all employers is the elevation and professionalisation of the people performing the resourcing role.

To be a great business you need great people, delivering great products and services. It stands to reason then that you need great resourcing teams and processes and a focus on recruitment as a critical business success factor. Developing and elevating those that recruit – and ensuring recruiting is a strategic board-level focus – will determine the future of recruiting and differentiate employers of choice.

GL: I wonder whether the role of recruiter will still exist in 20 years. You will never replace a good strong interview, but with so many processes becoming automated, the field of recruiting might look quite different.

For example, RPO has put rigour and discipline into recruiting. The natural evolution of that is: “What’s the role of the talent advisor going to be?” I’m not sure it will be the same role as we know it.

AG: Social media will have a bigger impact on resourcing at all levels. Some CEOs might not be prolific across social media, but many of their reports are – so in time those people will gravitate to those senior positions. We need to understand how recruitment can utilise that to positive effect. With the development of social media and the ability of organisations to source directly, agencies need to articulate their value-add in this process. Third-party suppliers need to evolve their offering to remain relevant in the new paradigm. When recruiting, be mindful that you are not just filling a job, you are recruiting someone who will add value to your organisation. You are not recruiting for in-built obsolescence, you are ensuring that your recruits are scalable and not time-bound.

We also need to implement robust onboarding for new hires – integration is key in terms of productivity, engagement and motivation.