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Next steps for building a modern talent ecosystem

Brett Coin
Chief of Talent Transformation
June 8, 2023

In my last blog post, I introduced the concept of a talent ecosystem — a holistic, multi-channel and multi-medium go-to market strategy that empowers a company’s ability to identify, develop, nurture, and retain talent at scale.

These 2 articles capture lessons learned and developed over the past 10 years. I had company along this journey with teammates, peers, and colleagues at Okta and Intuit. We asked questions, listened to each other, and experimented.

Today, I’ll share a few more helpful tips and next steps for building a modern talent ecosystem at your company.

Measuring ROI to align your strategy

As you grow your ecosystem, measuring source-of-hire success is critical to defining your strategy. Knowing which channels deliver talent and understanding cost-to-hire will help you build your strategy year over year and make budget decisions or tradeoffs. 

My favorite dashboard view is recent hires by source. Why? Because viewing the percent of hires coming from each channel in a single graph shows where the opportunities are to make people and technology investments. 

We found that almost 1/3 of hires (not candidates) came from referrals, followed by internal talent, then inbound career page postings. Most TA teams pour resources into technology and people to recruit external talent.

We found that just 10.8% of hires came from what we described as “direct sourcing”: sending Inmails to talent one at a time and waiting for a response. Reallocating investment to the most productive channels became a priority for our team, making it possible to maximize the ROI in each channel. 

While there is a time and place in an organization’s maturity to invest in new talent, cultivating internal channels gives you agility and flexibility. When priorities change or budgets get cut, your team has the skills and technology to expand or contract efforts. They are not starting from scratch.

Align technology to the strategy

Once you have your talent ecosystem strategy, your resource investments should support your efforts. How will you leverage people and technology to enable the ecosystem? The industry is saturated with people who know how to “direct source” and technology to bring in external talent. 

The cost of these disparate technologies is not just the annual subscription rate. Resources are required for integration, compliance, enablement, adoption, workflows, and reporting. Not to mention the additional time and expense required to onboard someone who is completely new to your organization. Every specialized tool added to the talent tech stack has to be evaluated for the total cost of ownership.

To go through this transformation so your team can work in a talent ecosystem requires tools that span the talent lifecycle. That’s why Findem’s Talent Data Cloud is so important. The omni-channel talent platform makes it possible for a recruiter to identify and engage talent, expand or contract channels, and report on pipeline status all in one place.

Next steps for building a talent ecosystem

This article captures lessons learned and developed over the past 10 years. I had company along this journey with teammates, peers, and colleagues at Okta and Intuit. We asked questions, listened to each other, and experimented. 

I encourage you to start these conversations within your own professional networks and in your talent organizations. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Adopt a product mindset:  Work with your team and partners to build a go-to-market strategy that is highly focused on your customers.
  • Recognize team success: Consider how you will recognize and reward recruiting both inside and outside of the team to meet common goals.
  • Start experimenting: Organize your team to go after a new ecosystem channel and start experimenting with programs to engage talent. 
  • Operationalize, resource and measure that channel’s impact for ROI. This may be as simple as tracking inputs and outputs in a shared spreadsheet. But if you don’t measure it, you won’t know what works. 
  • Create a functional talent pool: Pick the role that you hire for most frequently, capture qualified, not-ready talent in a CRM or spreadsheet. Commit to sending 2 emails per month to nurture the talent.
  • Re-balance your investments: Review your team and technology to carve out support for the new channel or talent pool you’ve created.  
  • Learn from within: Spend time with your product, sales, and marketing teams. Invite them to lunch or virtual coffee and apply the learnings to your own “go-to-market” plan for talent.

Gaining the support of executive leadership

Once you have a plan, you will need to cultivate executive support. These steps will help you navigate the change:

  1. Create a vision: Articulate a 1 and 3 year vision to explain why a talent ecosystem will bring value to the business.
  2. Focus on the business benefits: Better retention, higher quality talent, strong referrals, more balanced workforce, and higher productivity.
  3. Measure success: Tell your story through data and customer (candidate and hiring manager) feedback.
  4. Speak business language: Talk about the funnel in terms of leads, conversions, demand, ops, forecasts, ROI, and TCO.
  5. Go for a quick win: Start small, experiment, and share the success as a win for the whole company.

As a talent leader over the past 25 years, I’ve often found myself navigating the turbulent waters of change and disruption. But the work we do has a lasting impact on the businesses we serve and the people we help launch on new careers. I’ve found that a talent ecosystem helps keep the team motivated, deliver talent to the business, and create world-class experiences for candidates.

About the author

Brett Coin is the Chief of Talent Transformation at Findem, responsible for helping clients implement an AI-driven talent ecosystem and reinvent how they find, hire, mobilize, develop, and manage great employees. He was most recently served as Senior Vice President, Global Talent at Okta. He brings over 20 years of recruiting leadership, primarily in the tech and software industries to Findem.