Going external to recruit the most qualified candidates is critical to keep up with the demand for talent in most organizations. But that strategy overlooks two important sources of internal talent – current employees with talent and experience not utilized in their current positions or who have the ability to grow into new roles and referrals from employees who already are top performers at the company.
Develop a Pipeline
In this rapidly changing environment where technology is evolving at breakneck speeds and businesses are operating more and more on a global basis, jobs are changing, and the talent needed today may not be the talent needed next year. One solution, in addition to recruiting external candidates, is to identify and develop talent across the organization to meet current and future business needs.
Lynn Ware, CEO of Integral Talent Systems, Inc., notes that organizations must be able to respond quickly to changing needs to ensure they have the talent needed. She says organizations committed to building talent pipelines are more likely to:
- Take advantage of immediate market opportunities;
- Retain high-potential talent;
- Be able to absorb competitive disruptions and make rapid strategy adjustments; and
- Meet business targets.
One of the critical ways employers can respond to potential gaps in the supply and demand equation, Ware says, is to create a development culture so employees feel they are growing and being developed on an ongoing basis.
Susan Lawley of Lee Hecht Harrison says employers need to become “talent mobilizers” by providing opportunities for existing employees to expand knowledge and increase skills, especially the skills and knowledge that are priorities for the business. For instance, if a need for certain skills is identified as essential to fill future roles, the company should be investing in its talent so it can fill that need.
The development culture should include but not be limited to high potential employees. Ware says that implementing a development culture across the organization will mean access to a deeper pipeline of talent at all levels, and this will ensure the company is agile and ready for the change.
Beef Up Referral Program
Top-performing employees who are excelling with the company are a great source of referrals. They may have friends and colleagues from their days at college, previous jobs, and professional networks or associations that have the skills and experience needed.
Moreover, top employees are likely to refer only candidates they think will fit in and perform well. Also, top employees are brand ambassadors and can entice their friends and colleagues to at least consider a position with the company.
When establishing an employee referral program, remember to make the program easy to run. Give employees easy access to referral forms, and make the referral program easy for employees to understand. Roll out the program in steps in order to keep the momentum going. To avoid an onslaught of referred candidates, phase the program in, and as time goes on and there are success stories, the referrals will continue to flow in.
Finally, make sure the referral program is set up to follow every lead and respond to every individual referral. Since the referral program is built on relationships, you don’t want to slight a personal referral from an employee, regardless of whether the candidate is desirable or not.