Attracting high-calibre digital talent is one of the hottest talent and leadership topics and is absolutely critical for the business success of most companies in Germany and overseas. The consensus was that all potential talents should be seen as ‘customers’ of the company, and the credibility and authenticity of the employer brand is absolutely key in attracting and retaining these.

Allianz hosted an energising ChapmanCG HR leaders roundtable around digital talent in Munich. A positive meeting highlighting the evidence that Germany’s HR landscape is becoming increasingly diverse with 60% of our Munich participants being internationals.

Here are the four key questions that need be considered around the attraction of talent, according to our roundtable participants.

1. Choosing the right sourcing and recruiting channels to find recruits

  • Relevant conferences are a prudent source for long-term talent pipelining. Stack overflow (an online gamified Q&A portal for developers with a dedicated job advertising board to match the network with potential employers) and X Ray Search (a technique used to ‘advanced google search’ a website. For example, recruiters can use this to isolate promising LinkedIn profiles using specific keywords; eliminating irrelevant results and enabling much more targeted candidate sourcing) can be particularly effective in digital sourcing.
  • Social media channels such as LinkedIn remain key, tracking how the talent is coming to the organisation. It’s also powerful to look at why people don’t apply to roles.
  • Usually a slick Applicant Tracking System can be the answer – it can take too long so streamlining the process, as one organisation has done, reducing down to one minute, is imperative.
  • Implementing a simple process around referrals can also be highly effective.
  • If done well, talent acquisition shouldn’t own the process alone. There should really be shared accountability here.
  • Finally, it’s important to leverage groups and communities internally and make it much more straightforward to make recommendations.

Another critical element is having the right capability in your Talent Acquisitions (TA) teams. Can they sell your organisation accordingly? Being more specific around which audiences you are trying to reach and avoiding volume can help TA be more effective, and efficient.

2. Attracting digital talents and the core elements to becoming the employer of choice

Purpose is a key part of attracting digital talents. Focusing the job remit on the why is more important than the what. An organisation needs to ask itself what impact an individual joining will have on the entire company and how they will contribute to the purpose of that company. This was described quite aptly as the storytelling of that talent’s potential journey within the company.

‘Storytelling’ also works in retention. Articulating the projects that your current digital talent will be involved in helps them visualise their future ‘story’ within the company. Obviously it’s important to understand their motivators and tailor their career progression accordingly.

Key insights on digital talent from our round table discussions:

  • Digital talent tend to work best in teams that are less hierarchical and more flexible
  • Provide them with opportunities to engage with communities and exchange with peers and experts who they value
  • Flexible and decentralised working is essential
  • Treat digital talent candidates as you would customers
  • Allow digital talent to grow as people through experiences, but ensure that their roles do not become too defined.
  • The company means a lot less to them nowadays, instead they orientate towards topics and follow the work that interests them. This will become increasingly prevalent in the “gig economy”.
  • The candidate experience is an area that can’t be overlooked – digital platforms are a multiplier of negative feedback so it is prudent to send surveys to every interviewed candidate so the feedback comes straight back to you instead of going social.
  • As part of the onboarding process, ask new hires about their prior experience with a view to uncovering potential referrals.

3. Setting-up recruiting organisations and processes to win over competition

Technology such as Artificial Intelligence can help to free up time for recruiters so that they can add value, particularly around assessment. Talent acquisition professionals must liaise with all parts of the business to ensure that all recruiting is done with all sides of the business in mind. The actual recruitment process should be strongly orientated around the candidates. Segmenting and creating specialist teams to handle certain situations can also improve the results.

4. Creating culture where digital talent can thrive

Purpose, again, is not only the magnet that attracts good talent, but it is also the glue that keeps them there. It is important for an organisation to live up to the promise around this ‘purpose’ with authentic marketing and branding, this includes the leadership who need to be exemplary of this purpose. Being agile and flexible with rewards and perks is also a way to differentiate yourself as an organisation. Agility and flexibility also applies to company processes as well as the work environment and work hours. It is fundamental for a company to embrace entrepreneurship and create a culture that celebrates failure and daring, removes bureaucracy and allows for speed.

Whilst some established organisations are creating sub-cultures and structures to accommodate digital talent, in the long term this may not be sustainable. It is critical to orientate workforce planning to become digital by default, recruiting new talent, upskilling existing employees and driving culture change. The real crux of the challenge is around meshing the old with the new – if an organisation can get this right, they can create a new-world work culture that will bring them greater success.