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How to use talent mapping for recruitment 

According to the Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends 2024 guide, more than three-quarters of firms are planning to hire in 2024. ‘Over the pond’ in the United States, 57% of companies plan to add new permanent positions to their workforce in the first half of 2024. And it’s a story mirrored on the other side of the globe, with 95% of Australian employers planning to maintain or increase their headcount in 2024.

Talent mapping: a proactive recruitment strategy

Many companies are looking to shape a long-term strategy for the growth of their workforce, rather than simply reacting to changes in demand. When taking this kind of long-term look at your people strategy, talent mapping can be a fantastic solution.
But what is talent mapping? Talent mapping is a recruitment and hiring strategy focused on ongoing and proactive hiring, with a greater focus on the organisation’s overall objectives – and the skills needed to achieve this. Key to this process are activities like:
  • Analysing current workforce skills.
  • Identifying skill gaps.
  • Building new talent networks.
  • Looking ahead to future needs.
While a talent mapping strategy requires significant effort and investment, it brings enormous benefits. Companies that use talent mapping are able to fill urgent and niche roles much faster, retain essential talent and top performers, as well as determining the skills needed for the future.
In this blog, we’ll explore how talent mapping could support your business.

What does talent mapping mean?

Talent mapping is more than just a hiring process; it’s part of a wider business strategy. A typical talent mapping exercise might include several steps, depending on your needs and current situation. For example, you might:
  • Examine existing skillsets, including a review of current performance against wider business objectives – to understand where knowledge gaps may exist.
  • Identify potential candidates – both internal and external, and define development paths to enhance existing talent.
  • Use this research to address future hiring needs proactively – creating new talent networks or enhancing existing ‘hubs’.
Companies can use talent mapping to glean a picture of the current talent market and how it fits with their hiring intentions. This approach helps organisations to understand their immediate and long-term needs, especially when focusing on business-critical positions. Once the strategy is in place, hiring managers can use data-driven processes to guide hiring, development and retention decisions.
Above all, effective talent mapping ensures that the right people are in the right positions when they’re needed most.

What are the benefits of talent mapping?

There are many significant advantages of using talent mapping in your hiring process.
Identify skill gaps: Talent mapping provides a comprehensive view of skills across the organisation. Equipped with greater visibility, your organisation can become more agile in promoting lateral or upwards moves, or creating cross-functional project groups to tackle urgent business challenges, for example. With a better understanding of the skills missing, you can align future talent planning to your long-term strategy.
Nurture top talent: Talent mapping helps you identify and nurture top talent for new roles and upcoming vacancies. This should also include existing employees. Talent mapping can help you to design the learning and progression frameworks needed to enhance the skills of your workforce. Building a network of 'warm' candidates, as well as developing existing skillsets, can help to ensure you have a steady stream of talent that can be deployed into the right role, at the right time.
Streamline talent acquisition: Facing unexpected vacancies in key roles? Talent mapping means that you have already identified and engaged with a number of qualified candidates, rather than having to start from scratch.
Enable succession planning: Succession planning is a crucial aspect of business. That’s especially true when you’re replacing particularly experienced, niche or senior roles. Using talent mapping, you can identify suitable candidates early, building a culture of proactive — rather than reactive — hiring. There’s also the added benefit of more inclusive engagement, as everyone's skills and experience are considered in the succession process.
Build a competitive advantage: When you know where your key skill gaps lie, have quick access to strong talent networks and an acute understanding of where you want your organisation to be, you’re ahead of the field. Talent mapping can save time and money by making the right hiring decisions for the right roles.

What challenges are associated with talent mapping?

Of course, there are initial and ongoing challenges with talent mapping. For example:
  • Everybody needs to be onboard and share a clear vision of what the future looks like for your organisation. Otherwise, results may not meet expectations.
  • This approach can be time-consuming, particularly when building your ‘map’ for the first time. This is especially true for smaller recruitment or Human Resources (HR) teams. Many businesses choose to work with a workforce transformation partner for this reason
  • Data is key. You need to be identifying the right skills and performance metrics for your recruitment process to guide decisions from the beginning.
But, done well, talent mapping undoubtedly helps to find and hire the best talent for your organisation.

What is the talent mapping process?

You can’t implement a complete talent mapping process overnight. Instead, think of it as a multi-step and ongoing enhancement of your people strategy:
1. Recognise talent gaps in your current workforce.
2. Identify your ideal candidates to fill these gaps.
3. Design a template or criteria with key skills and requirements.
4. Benchmark against competitors to spot further gaps in your hiring strategy.
5. Develop current employees to improve their skills and improve the likelihood of retention
6. Build your talent networks according to your required gaps, skills or anticipated needs.
7. Hire the right talent and refine your processes based on your experiences.
8. Employ key data points — such as retention or time to hire. These insights will help to develop an ongoing talent management strategy.

How to conduct talent mapping in recruitment: best practices

Here are some top tips for effective talent mapping:
Understand why you are doing it: It’s critical to know why you’re talent mapping in the first place. What are your goals and priorities? Are there any measurable outcomes or KPIs? This will help you stay on track.
Target specific roles: Start small — try talent mapping for particular roles at the beginning before scaling up.
Ensure that you have an active talent pipeline: The key to getting results is having candidates when you need them. Use existing knowledge, new leads and social media to build your talent network according to your mapping specifications.

Begin your talent mapping strategy

A talent mapping strategy means identifying and assessing potential candidates for future vacancies. It’s a proactive approach, aligning with organisational goals. The primary goal is to ensure a talent pipeline that supports business growth and adapts to changing market demands.
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Aleksandra Tyszkiewicz
Executive Director CEE, Enterprise Solutions at Hays

Aleksandra is an expert in volume recruitment projects and servcies related to Recruitment Process Outsourcing.

With over 10 years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry in Europe, Aleksandra is responsible for developing relationships with strategic clients, implementing innovative recruitment solutions and driving performance improvements.