Digital Talent For A Digital World

Finding people with digital skills has always been an issue for many companies. The acceleration in pace and scale of digital transformation that the pandemic has driven has made this critical. In a disrupted and technology-enabled world of work, the ability to attract, recruit and retain people with digital skills can be the difference between business success and business failure.

Over the last few years, I have been researching what leading companies do to ensure they have the right digital skills to take their businesses forward. There isn’t a single simple answer or strategy; instead, success comes from a multi faceted approach across talent acquisition, talent management, retention and development.

It’s important to understand that existing talent pools are finite and competitive, so talent acquisition needs to be seen as a strategic activity with full executive buy in. Employer branding has never been more important as companies may have to build long term relationships with experienced people to persuade them to join the organisation. Technology can really help here, and the best talent acquisition teams use Artificial Intelligence and automation to find talent and run effective recruitment processes while freeing up human time for this vital relationship building.

Diversity and inclusion is also a critical part of the picture. It is proven that diverse organisations have a substantial competitive advantage and can access larger pools of digital talent. Diverse hiring only works where an inclusive culture drives retention, and unfortunately, many employers still have a long way to go on this journey.

Effective talent management within organisations is also essential; ultimately, talent shortages mean companies have to proactively develop new skills within their existing workforces. Skills mapping to understand what skills there are within the organisation is a growing trend with forward thinking employers. This internal intelligence makes it easier to design learning and development strategies and build internal talent marketplaces driving the kind of internal mobility that is now needed by employers and desired by employees.

The changing nature of work offers both challenges and threats. Remote working opens up access to digital talent worldwide, which certainly helps talent acquisition; however, it can also affect retention as employees have much more choice about where and how they work. The relationship between employee and employer has dramatically changed, and certainly, when it comes to digital talent, employees are more empowered than ever.

Ultimately the employers who will successfully navigate their way through these challenging times are those who think differently about talent. Hiring people for potential rather than experience is critical in a rapidly changing work environment where in-demand digital skills change regularly and new kinds of jobs are constantly evolving.

Digital talent will remain scarce for years to come, and employers will need to develop a new type of total talent thinking that encompasses a combination of internal mobility, learning and development, talent acquisition and access to contingent and project based workforces. Those employers that focus on equity of treatment and experience for all workers regardless of their employment status will be ones who get the genuine talent advantage.


This post was originally one of my regular columns for the The Herald