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Navigating Recruitment in the Talent Economy

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

Amid the uncertainty in today’s workplace, one thing is sure. We are working in a talent economy. At no time in our history has company success depended more on hiring and retaining top talent. We rely on highly skilled professionals, for example, to develop, adapt and advance technology within our firms to drive competitive advantage. Sales teams generate revenue, and customer care teams nurture client relationships. All departments are interdependent and dependent on the talent filling the seats, and how we fill those seats is changing.

Twenty years ago, hiring was fairly predictable. Job openings where listed, candidates applied, and a select few were interviewed. The best candidate got the job and reported to work in two weeks. But today, the talent pool isn’t restricted by geography, nor is it limited to those with a certain pedigree. It is, however, very competitive. Top candidates typically have multiple offers and can choose where and how they want to work.

Talent Economy Experience

Recruiting in the talent economy is a totally different experience. Hiring managers can source talent from anywhere in the world. Job candidates can upskill at the best universities or participate in MOOCs (mass open online courses) from the comfort of their couches. Work teams can use SaaS tools like Slack and to connect multiple locations and maintain seamless operations, despite the lack of in-person experiences. This “open source” approach to work and learning has leveled the playing field for some, removing barriers to employment that may have once existed.

But it’s not just employees and job prospects who see the benefits of the talent economy. Employers are leveraging technology to disrupt antiquated business models and challenge cultural norms. For example, Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber upended the hotel and transportation industries with their “sharing” business models. But they also reimagined the industries’ talent solutions by onboarding thousands of everyday people as property managers and drivers, all who have autonomy over their work schedules.

Competition and Culture

However, the challenge for many hiring managers navigating the talent economy is competition for the best hires. We’ve found that the best way to overcome that obstacle is through your company’s culture.

Peter Drucker said it best, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Whether you agree with it or not, culture is essential to an organization's health and longevity when recruiting top talent. Today’s workforce comprises technology-forward Gen Z and Millennial workers. They want to find meaning in their work and flexibility in how and when they work. So, they’ll gravitate toward organizations with cultures that mirror their values.

What Employers Can Do

Employers should consider building less conventional methods to employment into their culture to attract this potential hire, such as:

  • Be open to different work scenarios. Job sharing and remote work are not new concepts but have re-emerged as key influencers in candidates’ decision making. Express a willingness to forgo 9 to 5 regiments in favor of more flexible work schedules.

  • Adopt a collaborative approach. Merging virtual and in-person experiences must be intentional. Design culture around community so that everyone – whether in the next cubicle or 2,000 miles away – feels valued and included.

  • Create an employee-centered culture. Cultivate a supportive and inclusive environment in which your employees' professional growth is prioritized and employee contributions are celebrated and rewarded.

Key Takeaways

While technology has made the world feel smaller, the challenge has never been greater for hiring firms to attract and retain talent, as competition for the best recruits tightens despite a global talent pool. Navigating the talent economy requires a deep understanding of emerging workforce dynamics, including values and expectations, and designing, or redesigning, corporate culture around it.

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