Recruiting Next-Gen Mobile Talent: A Q&A with Peggy Smith

As the war for talent rages on, employers are building their workforces with many kinds of talent that they source locally, regionally, and globally. As technology continues to advance, so does the types of workers that are available. Gone are the days of 9-5, in-house talent, today’s workforce is going mobile.


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Peggy Smith, President and CEO at Worldwide ERC, joins us to discuss how the key to fighting the war for talent is to go beyond physical boundaries and think more “digitally” when attracting and retaining talent. If you’re interested in learning how to attract and retain mobile talent, Smith offers some great tips in this Q&A.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: How would you define mobile talent?
Smith: Today’s mobile talent can be defined as all individuals in the workforce who are willing to move for their work. That might mean crossing state lines in the U.S. or crossing global borders to relocate and live close to one’s work.
It also might mean being fully employed by a company in one region but working and living remotely in another, such as we find in the Tulsa Remote program, or in Estonia’s eResidency initiative.
If we want to tap into the best talent and maintain access to a broad field of candidates, everyone can’t be tethered to the mothership; we’ll naturally find some of our talent beyond the borders of the traditional full- and part-time employee base.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: How does mobile talent differ from freelance or gig work?
Smith: Because the lines between remote workers and gig workers are dimming, it might be easy to mistake one for the other—but the defining difference is that mobile talent that works remotely is fully employed by one company; gig workers can hire themselves out independently to a number of employers.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: What are the pros and cons of recruiting mobile talent?
Smith: A major upside to recruiting mobile talent is that it gives an employer access to a wider pool of candidates. One of the challenges: the process it takes to get there.
Candidate assessment is critical, and not everyone has the inclination or mindset to succeed as part of a mobile talent workforce. For example, for those who need social interaction, it can be isolating. It’s important to make sure those being considered are self-starters, capable of highly autonomous, and focused work.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: Should employers advertise that they’re recruiting for mobile talent?
Smith: Absolutely! It can be a recruiting tool, in fact. In many cases today, particularly with next-gen employees, candidates not only want, but expect a mobile experience.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: Are there any drawbacks employers should be aware of when broadcasting this working arrangement?
Smith: There must be structure, even in a less structured work environment! The company should make a commitment to not only supporting mobile talent, but to holding them accountable. Some very large companies have ended their remote work programs for several reasons.
For some, their innovation competitiveness was suffering by not having a collaborative environment. For others, their system lacked accountability—so that some employees took advantage of the flexibility.
There were also concerns about having the right management competencies to oversee remote talent. With a good plan in place, this kind of option for workers can improve productivity; without it, it can cost the organization financially, culturally, and in productivity.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: Are there any resources available to recruiters who are sourcing mobile talent?
Smith: There are resources all around us, though they may not be corralled in one place. It’s important for recruiters to tap into the knowledge and experience of individuals and companies who are already succeeding in these efforts. One significant example is software startup InVision, which was founded on remote work.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: What is the best way to create a memorable candidate experience for mobile workers?
Smith: Because mobile workers may have less opportunity for exposure to company culture and fewer options to get to know their colleagues, it’s even more important to have them participate in interviews at the primary location. This will provide an opportunity for them to see some of their potential colleagues and to personally contextualize the culture.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: As technology becomes more important in the hiring process, many employers are opting to do video interviews. What are the pros and cons of utilizing this technology when screening mobile talent?
Smith: Phone and video interviews can be helpful in the initial stages of interviews, but unless it’s simply not an option, it’s always important to bring candidates in for an in-person interview.
There are so many nuances that can be missed without face-to-face contact: you might observe a trait that concerns you that you want to find out more about, or perceive a wonderful unexpressed career goal over lunch that makes a candidate even more appealing as a hire.  Like so many other things we experience in this environment, a blend of technology and human elements often gives us the best outcome!
Peggy Smith, SCRP, SGMS-T is President and CEO of Worldwide ERC®. She is a strategic and adventurous leader with a keen eye for fresh concepts and solutions-oriented insight, who has extended the reach of the organization within the APAC, EMEA, and LATAM regions. Under her guidance, Worldwide ERC® delivers next-gen content, community, and engagement to talent management and mobility professionals.


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