Disrupted: Chapter 19 – “Corporate Priorities – Insights from Talent Acquisition”

Hear more about the Talent Acquisition Perspective on our podcast!Click here to order Disrupted!

Read Chapter 1 – Disrupted!

Read Chapter 3 – Corporate Disruption – Insights from Talent Development

Talent acquisition is often a team whose responsibilities are a little vague to most employees. Once you join a company, you may not pay much attention to what they’re doing. After all, they’re in charge of hiring people and you’ve already been hired. But there’s a little more to their function. Talent acquisition supports a company’s strategy by ensuring they have the right people in the right roles at the right time. And this means that the fast-paced shifts within a company put an acquisition or recruitment team under pressure to find the talent they need.

Here’s how they define their focus:

  • Acquiring high-quality candidates who offer skills needed for current roles
  • Building a diverse talent pool to meet current and future business needs
  • Assessing current in-house skills to determine future skills and roles needed
  • Identifying talented employees within the company to groom for promotion

So, talent acquisition has a view of both external and internal talent. And they have the most comprehensive view of the two groups to compare.

When we shared talent-development insights in Chapter 3, you heard urgency in how the development leaders think about developing internal talent. And that urgency only increases for talent-acquisition teams. The talent-acquisition survey participants define top challenges as competition for top talent and a shortage of qualified talent. Both perspectives illustrate the rapid pace of change and the choices companies are making in order to deliver on it.

As we mentioned with talent development, it takes time to teach employees new skills and, in a competitive marketplace with product rushes and aggressive deadlines, it’s not always a viable solution to retrain an entire function of a business or invest in an internal candidate.

That’s why the top reason for selecting external candidates rather than internal ones is the need for a new skill or expertise (65%). And it just makes you wonder, was the skill truly missing within the company or was the skill just not promoted as part of an internal brand? Sometimes, there’s no question that a new skill or expertise is being added. But there are many times that skills were just not recognized. And here’s how we know.

When we asked talent acquisition what most people can’t do well in an interview, they say it’s the ability to illustrate accomplishments.

“Some of the best candidates we interview in terms of relative experience, education, and skill set are not always the best at being able to tell their story. And this can be a real impediment when you’re trying to convince me to hire you! The one skill that I recommend candidates develop to help them land a job or launch a career is to become an exceptional storyteller. Specifically, a teller of your own story.”

We couldn’t ask for a better proof point for the importance of a career story! Your accomplishments and experiences are like a doorjamb for a job position. They are what will get you the first-round interview, but no matter how much of a rock star your resume says you are, the way you communicate your accomplishments and tell your story is what gets you to the next round.

And if you agree with the trends and insights that we’re sharing, then disruption will continue whether you put it into play or your company does. You’re going to be a candidate multiple times. You’ll go through more interviews – and meet more talent-acquisition people – than you ever thought you would.

And that’s why we hope our latest book, Disrupted!, will help you understand the current career landscape and prepare to shift your disruption to a reset opportunity.  Your first step is to order a copy and see how we solve for the talent insights we’ve shared over the last two weeks. Or better yet, join in the conversation by signing up for April’s book club and LinkedIn conversation about the resets ahead and how to succeed in all of them.

Call us when you need us.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 here.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 3 here.

Disrupted: Chapter 3 – “Corporate Disruption – Insights from Talent Development”

Hear more about the Talent Development Perspective on our podcast!Click here to order Disrupted!

Read Chapter 1 – Disrupted!

Read Chapter 19 – Corporate Priorities – Insights from Talent Acquisition

In our world of communication coaching, we talk to a lot of talent development and talent management leaders. One conversation with a new client was particularly revealing. We were designing a coaching program for some of the company’s future leaders, and she shared the difficulty of finding and retaining top talent for the company.

“I know that when I onboard a great resource, I only have them for about two years. While it’d be great to build out a series of development steps for a young leader, it doesn’t make sense when I know half of them won’t be here by the end of it. So, my perspective has shifted to, ‘what will you contribute while you’re here and what can I do to make you more effective for the company?’”

That’s a real dilemma for a talent leader and you can see from her quote that, even with the best of intentions, she can’t make a development plan work for everybody. Talent strategies have pivoted from a concentrated, long-term strategy of developing leaders over time, to addressing business needs and standing up new leaders quickly.

We’ve seen the shift and heard the dilemma anecdotally. But as we began thinking through disruption, we wanted to quantify the corporate perspective more formally. Through a comprehensive survey and follow-up interviews with nearly three hundred talent development and talent acquisition leaders, we found our assumptions matched their insights (see Appendix for full results).

Talent leaders are being stretched to anticipate skills, not just solve for gaps. And company priorities and strategies are shifting at a rate that’s hard to stay ahead of. In fact, 47% of our survey respondents said that one of their biggest challenges is that their company’s current talent capabilities do not align with the company’s future needs. That’s a pretty sizable gap! It means that talent teams are looking at either retraining or rehiring nearly half of their workforce. And even with the best of intentions, retraining half a workforce just isn’t feasible as a long-term strategy. It’s expensive, it slows down a company’s operations, and, perhaps most importantly in today’s market, it takes too much time.

So, if talent is at such a premium in companies, then where are talent leaders investing their time, energy, and funds? Well, they’re investing in two places with very different approaches: first-level managers and emerging leaders (seasoned directors/VPs and above).

Skilled front-line managers are needed to help an organization achieve its goals. Whether you’re in sales, marketing, engineering, finance, operations, etc., the first-line manager has a lot of visibility to both employees and customers, and they need to have a specific set of skills to manage the expectations of the brand and of the consumer. Training and support for this group is primarily focused on “hard skills” and whatever technical or specialist skill sets are needed to drive the immediate projects and strategies of a business. While there’s a lot of churn at this level of an organization, it still remains a priority for talent teams, so much so that this group was rated the highest training priority across our survey.

The second priority for talent teams are their emerging leaders (Senior Director/VP and up). Interestingly, this group requires the complete opposite training approach. Instead of delivering outcomes of a brand for a customer, future leaders become the expectations of the brand. And often, that means a lot more visibility in high-stakes environments. So, training for this group is focused on “soft skills” and whatever communication and leadership traits a talent team can help a rising leader develop quickly.

And as you’ve probably noticed, there are a lot of roles that this approach leaves out. If you don’t fall into one of those two camps, you’re not alone. And if your own development goals fall outside the scope of what the business needs, there’s a good chance you won’t wind up on a talent team’s radar.

Here’s why:

82% of talent development priorities are based on company goals, identified skill gaps for specific tasks, and job roles and functions. And only 8% of talent development programs, initiatives, and events are based on employee feedback and development interests. Talent development leaders told us that employees ask for leadership development, communication, and technical skill development through internal surveys and performance reviews. Yet those desires aren’t always in line with their companies’ priorities and development investments.

So, you can see how many employees fall between the cracks by missing training within their function area or not fitting the profile of the talent strategy in a given year. In addition, talent development leaders say that employees have unrealistic expectations and some blind spots about career advancement. These insights summed up our hypothesis, which is that in today’s corporate environment, you need to take ownership for your own development and career advancement.

And when you take ownership, you’ll find that resets can be opportunities if you know how to interview and illustrate your experiences well.

Next week, we’ll share the insights from talent acquisition leaders who clearly define what the interview is all about and why most people miss the mark.
More to come…


Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 here.

Disrupted: Chapter 1 – “Disrupted!”

Hear more about the book on our podcast!Click here to order Disrupted!

Read Chapter 3 – Corporate Disruption – Insights from Talent Development

Read Chapter 19 – Corporate Priorities – Insights from Talent Acquisition

Today is not going to be a good day. You were up half the night worrying. You hardly hear the audiobook you put on in the car to steady your nerves, and as you walk from the parking deck to your office, the cup of coffee in your hand is shaking.

You make it through the front door and past the main lobby. On the way to your desk, you pass your colleagues. Some of them look well-rested as they debate last night’s game and swap weekend plans, but others look like you feel. They seem to share your nervous energy, and you get a few knowing half-smiles of camaraderie as you open your email and hope you’re wrong.

It’s no surprise that half the office seems on edge. Your company was just acquired and, on Monday, your leadership team said the dreaded word that you haven’t been able to stop thinking about: “reorganization,” commonly referred to as “reorg.”

By Wednesday, your manager, Marissa, announced that she was leaving, and last night your new manager, Dan, unexpectedly put some time on your calendar for nine a.m. today. You worked closely with Marissa for nearly two years, but now Dan has taken over Marissa’s team as well as two other teams. You worked on a project with Dan about a year ago, but he’s from a different department and most of the work was done remotely. You doubt he really remembers you.

When the clock strikes nine, you walk down to Dan’s new office where he is sitting with an HR business partner. He asks you to take a seat and shut the door.

Dan sighs, and you know instantly that you were right.

“Thank you for your work here the last two years,” he says. “But the company is moving in a different direction and we don’t have a need for your role right now.”

The rest of the conversation is awkward and brief, and then you thank Dan for telling you in person as you head back to your desk to pack up your things and wait for a follow-up email from HR.

As you take the long walk from the lobby back to your car, everything starts sinking in. You wonder what you did wrong, how you didn’t see this coming months ago, and worst of all, you worry about what comes next.

Last Friday your world was completely different. You had a plan, you felt secure, but now…you’ve been disrupted!

Disruption happens to everyone at some point in their careers, and, for many of us, it will happen many times over. Whether you’re a new recruit or a twenty-year veteran, a seasoned C-Suite leader or a recent college grad, you can and will be disrupted. Favorite managers leave, companies are bought and sold, and boards decide their companies need a new face at the helm. Whether or not you’ve lived this story firsthand yet, the inevitable truth is that at some point in your career you will be disrupted.

In fact, you may even disrupt yourself! We actively seek new roles, go back to school, move our families, or chase dreams. And while that kind of disruption is self-inflicted, it, too, can create lasting impressions that may linger outside of our best intentions.

We take disruption personally. Whether it’s a long walk from a desk to a parking lot with our things in a cardboard box or a cross-country move, there’s vulnerability that comes with disruption. Even when we’re in the driver’s seat, we often still feel lost, confused, and a little scared. Yet some people seem to thrive in disruption! Our societal lexicon is full of underdogs who turned failures into successes and went from disrupted dreamers to kings and queens of the hill. So, how do they do it?

Until recently, the old model for promotions and success within a company had not changed much since the 1950s. You put in your time with a company and the company would slowly bring you along in your professional development, investing in you and moving you along at an established pace to develop new skills and to prepare you for a senior leadership position. But that old and patient model has changed. Companies move at incredible speeds and, as the demand for more specialized and technical skills increases, talent leaders can no longer wait for someone to develop a skill over time. They need the skill right away. This is why many companies have shifted to a hiring model of “What do we need today?” and “Who can adjust easily to whatever we need tomorrow?”

That’s a very different mindset for developing and acquiring talent, and it’s a shift that not many employees realize has occurred. Even self-labeled “job-hoppers,” who only plan to stay with a company for a year or two, still have expectations that a company will help develop them and advance their career in some way. And while many organizations say they do this, the reality is that most employees do not hit the internal development radar until they meet a specific criterion. That’s why, when disruption suddenly hits us, we often feel confused.

  • “I didn’t know they were looking for that skill set…”
  • “I assumed they would teach me any new skills I needed…”
  • “I would have learned how to do that if they’d let me know…”

But, as I mentioned earlier, some people thrive in disruption. Or at least, they seem to. So, what’s their secret? Those who thrive in disruption understand how to do two things that will improve their ability to navigate disruption and reset their careers: they know how to position their brands and they know how to tell their own stories.

Excerpt Ends

In our latest book, we discuss both and share insights about expectations from hundreds of talent leaders.  There’s more to come ….stay tuned!