Spotlight on Digital Talent, Part 2 – How to Hire the Right People

Once companies have identified the digital talent they need for their organizations, as described in the previous post, the next step is to find people to fill those roles. But in today’s fast-paced and fiercely-competitive landscape, that’s no easy task.

Companies can no longer rely on the recruiting processes they used even a decade ago to find and attract cutting-edge talent. Instead, like virtually every other aspect of business operations, talent acquisition strategies must be updated and rebooted for the digital age.

To best accomplish this, according to McKinsey analysts, companies need to focus on these six main strategic areas:

  1. Develop an exciting concept.

Many companies don’t realize that today’s digital talent is motivated by different considerations than their predecessors were. This is particularly the case for established incumbents.

business planOf course, money is always an important part of attracting talent. However, it’s far from the only factor. In fact, more digital candidates than ever are prioritizing companies that can offer an inspiring vision and value proposition over companies that offer little more than a paycheck.

But for companies working to reinvent their brand for the digital era and develop a cohesive narrative about their digital transformation, it’s vital not to promise more than can be delivered. Talent acquisitions who find that the reality doesn’t live up to the vision won’t stick around for long.

McKinsey suggests businesses explore strategies like creating mini-startups within the company. These mini-startups should be complete with their own vision, reporting structures, and career trajectories. This may boost the value proposition offered by the existing enterprise.

  1. Invest in targeted “anchor hires.”

When it comes to getting top digital talent on board, many companies are adopting a “like attracts like” approach. The idea is to invest in targeted hires, so-called “anchor hires,” who are highly-regarded leaders within their own discipline or industry.

These figures may help to pull in other top level talent through their personal networks and reputation. Not only that, but their presence within the organization serves as a signal to the broader industry of the company’s commitment to digital leadership and innovation in that particular sphere.

While anchor hires can certainly facilitate the hiring of other talent, the process of attracting the anchor hires themselves takes a considerable investment of time, care, and thought. In addition, anchor hires will likely expect significant influence in shaping whatever emerging unit the business is recruiting them to head.

  1. Using non-traditional recruiting practices.

interviewCompanies should not expect the innovative talent they are seeking to be searching for jobs using traditional methods like career sites or conventional resumes. Businesses that want cutting-edge talent must get used to engaging with those candidates on their own terms.

This means embracing new recruiting strategies and capabilities. For example, companies can target community discussion boards like StackOverflow and GitHub. Alternatively, companies can look through programmers’ source-code repositories or host hackathon events.

  1. Network using digital-labor platforms.

It’s easier than ever for top talents to find all the information they need about companies. Jobseekers can obtain information through platforms like Glassdoor or Hacker News, where current employees can share thoughts on job satisfaction and company culture.

Leading companies are going one step further, creating their own sourcing platforms to frame the conversation and connect more effectively with digital candidates. Such platforms also provide prospective employees with a forum where they can showcase their technical skills.

It’s a smart move. Research from the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that companies using these kinds of digital-talent platforms to their highest potential could boost output by 9 percent, reduce employee costs by 7 percent, and add 275 basis points on average to profit margins.

  1. Make smart use of vendor partners.

codingPart of developing a successful digital talent strategy today involves recognizing that “digital talent” is no longer restricted to in-house employees. One of the major shifts that has occurred in the technology ecosystem recently is that companies are no longer serviced by only one or two primary IT vendors.

Instead, companies are utilizing a wide variety of external options. These include new partners, alliances, and crowd-sourcing, as well as traditional vendors.

As a result, all these specialized relationships effectively function like partnerships. In other words, companies working with these vendors can take advantage of digital talent and expertise without necessarily bringing it on board into the organization itself.

  1. Making “acqui-hires.”

In the “acqui-hire” approach, a company builds up a desired talent set by acquiring a start-up with the needed capabilities. This has become a widely-used method among larger, more established enterprises.

However, the problem of how to effectively mesh two very different organizational cultures is a difficult one to overcome. To address this, many companies are adopting what has become known as a “reverse takeover” mindset.

This tactic sees rotating teams from the acquiring company moving into a “ring fenced” environment. There, they can integrate and work with employees from the start-up .

This way, the acquiring organization can take advantage of the newly-acquired talent right away. At the same time, employees from the acquiring organization can get used to the start-up culture in a more controlled environment, one small group at a time.