The Benefits of Talent Mapping

Let us begin by defining talent mapping. It is a process by which individuals are identified and mapped for a specific role requirement using secondary research. Talent mapping is commonly used when HR and Talent Acquisition (TA) leads are devising recruitment strategies, however, as will be explained below, this exercise is not just limited to recruitment, but it can also strongly influence HR policy.

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What can HR and TA leads achieve by incorporating Talent Mapping?

  1. Provides an overview of the availability of external talent

Prior to any fiscal year, the leadership team is tasked with developing a recruitment plan. This typically encompasses questions around location, required technical competencies and the number of hires etc. However, it is important to emphasise that there may be a discrepancy between what the business needs to achieve its financial target and what the external market can realistically yield. Talent mapping can, therefore, act as a Proof-of-Concept (POC) or feasibility study which allows HR and  Talent Acquisition leads to manage expectations of the whole hiring community.


  1. Develop a deep understanding of the typical career trajectory for a given role

This point is especially useful for organisations and/or hiring communities which have not hired for a given role before. By undertaking talent mapping, Talent Acquisition teams or an executive search partner can collate the data and extrapolate intelligence relating to education, traditional career trajectories and responsibilities associated with this role.


  1. Ability to draw information relating to location, mobility, and key employers

As talent mapping captures information relating to location and the mobility trends of a specific talent pool, this intelligence enables HR leads to make informed decisions on developing and amending relocation and flexible working policies to remain competitive. It may sound obvious but ascertaining the key employers of a specific skill-set or technical competency is important; however, a business may be aware of its direct competitors, but may not appreciate that this can vary according to country and region due to cultural, political, and social reasons.


  1. Ability to gain insight into your competitors’ workforce

A useful indicator for HR and Talent Acquisition teams to measure effectiveness of their strategies is to undertake competitor analysis and benchmark their teams against their competitors. Talent mapping can allow HR and TA teams to educate themselves on average tenure, size of teams, and organisational structures of their competitors. In so doing, HR policies will be influenced by the teams’ strengths and weaknesses highlighted by talent mapping


  1. Helps to devise a succession planning strategy based on external talent

Let us suppose that HR and Talent Acquisition Leads have undertook a skill-gap analysis in one team and concluded that there is no identifiable internal successor for a critical leadership position. It would be strongly recommended that they instruct a partner to support them in providing a talent map of suitable individuals to understand the external landscape.

  1. Helps to create talent pipelines and reduce the time-to-hire

To continue with the above example, by identifying potential successors before an employee leaves or is internally promoted, TA teams or external partners can begin direct engagement with suitable successors and develop talent pipelines to mitigate business disruption.


  1. Opportunity to identify alternative talent with the similar skill sets and competencies

As the competition for talent increases, organisations must find solutions to successfully fill roles in the shortest amount of time. One way to achieve this is to divert efforts from hiring based on traditional perceptions and take an approach which embraces new perspectives; thereby asking the hiring community to question whether there are other careers or markets which demand the same skill-set and technical competencies which could easily transfer into the business’s market. Talent mapping can therefore demonstrate the availability of this new talent pool. More importantly, it has strong potential to increase innovation and business growth.


  1. Ability to benchmark your business’s Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DEI) strategy against your competitors and the market

It is common knowledge that the most innovative and successful businesses have highly diverse teams. Talent mapping invites HR and  Talent Acquisition teams to question  the effectiveness of their DEI strategies by finding out the DEI representation in their market and identify organisations that are outperforming the market average. More interestingly, talent mapping will allow HR and TA teams to see DEI representation at all career levels. It can indicate if a company has a ‘leaky’ talent pipeline (and at which career level) and provide insight into their competitors’ policies relating to graduate/early in career recruitment, hiring, return to work programmes, flexible-working and maternity/paternity.


  1. Increases employee retention

Talent mapping enables HR teams to better understand the career trajectories of top talent. By identifying potential talent for one’s business, Talent Acquisition team’s or an Executive Search partner can also do further research and highlight trends relating to typical career paths and training. This intelligence can be then developed into personalised development plans thereby increasing job satisfaction and retention.


  1. Contributes to your employee branding

All businesses want to be the employee of choice to all prospective employees. It is therefore critical to understand what is important to your employees i.e., what motivates them to join, and stay at, your company over your competitors. Talent mapping allows HR and Talent Acquisition teams make informed expectations and contribute to the understanding of competitors’ culture, values and other important unique characteristics which attract and develop high-performing talent.


About the author
Doug Mackay
6 min read

Having started his career in Executive Search in 1998, Doug set up Collingwood in 2005 alongside his wife, Claire Mackay.

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