TalentTalent AcquisitionTalent Acquisition 2020: HRD Connect’s Guide

Talent Acquisition 2020: HRD Connect's Guide

In a year of major upheaval, talent is of paramount importance to the HR agenda. HRD Connect, with help from Mervyn Dinnen and Katrina Collier, examines the top talent acquisition trends to watch in 2020.

With 2020 well underway, HRD Connect takes a look at how to tackle the biggest challenges facing talent acquisition right now. As we enter a new decade, we prepare to set new targets, test new methods and take on new challenges. In this sense, issues surrounding the talent space appear to be most prominent among HR professionals.

With the help of HRD Thought Leaders Mervyn Dinnen and Katrina Collier, we took a closer look at how to tackle talent acquisition’s biggest challenges.


Today, the global business climate is changing at a rate never seen before. The pace of technological development is quickening by the day, and so too are the social standards by which we conduct ourselves. The impact this is having on the modern workplace is profound.

More specifically, many feel that the talent space is the most crucial element of business as we enter the new decade. Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Report branded recruitment as ‘harder than ever’, and a PwC survey revealed that 80% of CEOs are either extremely or somewhat concerned about getting access to the skills their business needs – up from just over 50% in 2020.

The most critical element of this is undoubtedly the initial acquisition of talent, particularly through recruiting and onboarding. Here are our pointers for traversing this fickle landscape in 2020.

Producing talent is as crucial as hiring talent

One of the most important aspects of the talent space is ensuring that an organization has an ongoing contingency of future talent and future leadership. However, this is often neglected, with one study showing that 65% of employees find it easier to move to a new company than attain a new role within their current one. Mervyn Dinnen, author of Exceptional Talent and HRD Thought Leader, offered his take on the subject.

“The way to solve it is to build from within,” he said. “How can you create an environment where people can develop their careers within your organization?”

Dinnen also commented on the attitude of current leaders towards their workforces, explaining that they should focus more on producing and evolving talent throughout their teams. In doing so, he highlights a flaw in the common dynamic, whereby leaders are rewarded for having high performing teams, and therefore tend to spend most of their time nurturing the high performing individuals.

This is what he calls the ‘buy vs build conundrum’ – the dilemma of whether to hire exceptionally high performers or produce them internally through long-term development.

“What managers need to do is be talent producers. They need to be rewarded for producing talent,” he said. “It is the approach to learning and development that is crucial.”

Create a learning culture

The opportunity for learning and growth from the perspective of the employee, rather than simply for the benefit of the company, is pivotal. This aligns neatly with what many refer to as ‘employee brand proposition’ – what the organization stands for and what, in turn, it can offer a candidate.

“You have got to let people develop themselves,” said Dinnen. “Access to learning is one of the differentials of what makes a place where people want to work.”

In fact, according to his own survey of 14,000 jobseekers, 91% said the opportunity to grow and learn new skills is the most important factor in choosing one business over another.

“To be a place where talent wants to work, you need to be a place where talent can thrive,” he said. Katrina Collier, author of The Robot-Proof Recruiter and HRD Thought Leader, echoes this point.

“Stop just focusing on millennials,” she said. “All employees like to grow and learn. All people love to be invested in.”

“You will absolutely have a higher retention rate if you are prepared to do that.”

Candidate experience is everything

Employee experience is a topic often cited in talent space conversations, but many HR leaders are now factoring candidate experience into the equation. Notionally, this is makes for a smooth and seamless overall experience, which ultimately makes the candidate happier and reflects positively on the company.

Dinnen explained this concept at length, citing what he refers to as ‘the talent experience relay race’. Though the ideal outcome is “one seamless journey”, the reality is that the process becomes severely fragmented.

Elaborating, he said: “The first time the baton usually gets dropped is onboarding”.

“The overall employee experience from the time they apply to the time they leave has to run smoothly.”

This is a broad challenge, and one that can be approached in several ways. Ultimately, a successful attempt to do this should encompass elements of healthy company culture, positive employee experience, functional technology and considerate leadership.

This has scarcely been more important, with unemployment rates falling to unprecedented lows among some of the world’s leading economies, including the UK (3.7%), Japan (2.4%), Germany (3.1%) and the US (3.5%).

Prioritise your online persona

The importance of a positive and progressive HR strategy is one thing, but how exactly this reflects on a company in the online sphere is another entirely. This is a concept that many organizations are still coming to terms with.

“The biggest game changer in recruitment was the internet,” said Collier, outlining the principle further.

“Some companies still think that they have all the power, but the power is with the candidates,” she said. “Companies aren’t in control anymore.”

Because the internet is now an ever-growing space where companies market, advertise, recruit and are held to account by the public, this exposes their shortcomings in a way never before possible.

“Poor treatment of candidates and employees is causing their online reputation to be poor and acting as a barrier to recruitment,” said Collier.

“It’s not about pretending to be great online, it’s about genuinely taking care of people,” she said.

The solution to optimizing talent in 2020 is simultaneously crystal clear yet somewhat imprecise. This is because the answer lies in every aspect of a company’s identity and actions. It is no longer a single process, but rather a collective effort that covers all bases. In sum, an organization must be forward-thinking, compassionate, technologically astute and everything in between. Only then will maximum potential be reached in terms of acquiring and retaining talent in 2020.

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