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Moving to a Talent-Based Selection Approach

Ideal strategy for labour shortages.

August-25-11, published by Julie Carignan, Organizational psychologist

tags : Selection, Talent


At a time when the job market is becoming increasingly competitive and labour shortages are commonplace, adopting a talent-centred approach is a very promising candidate selection strategy. Moving from a strictly skills-based approach to a talent-based approach consists in putting the accent on a person’s innate strengths and gifts versus restricting oneself to a summary description of the duties and skills that will be required for the position in question. The talentbased approach puts the human factor at the centre of the search and invites the employer to look for what a candidate has to offer, not just what the organization needs during the recruitment process.

This is not to say that using a talent-based approach suggests ignoring the weaknesses of a candidate; in no way does the approach disregard the importance of measuring required job skills. Instead, it puts the primary focus on discovering a candidate’s talents and then explores their fit with the organizational needs. To this end, SPB has developed a bank of interview questions and evaluation tools that put the spotlight on talents, something that traditional skills-based approaches often fail to consider.

According to Julie Carignan, adopting a talent-based selection approach changes how those in charge of candidate evaluations give feedback to managers. They still look at a candidate’s skills, as these are indispensable to the job that must be filled and help determine if the candidate’s profile fits the employer’s expectations. But they also go beyond this aspect by telling the employer about the innate talents that a candidate could bring to the organization. Unlike a strictly skills-based approach, talent management enables an employer to look at selection from a broader and more long-term perspective.

Applying talent management to one’s selection practices is an approach that is also better adapted to a labour shortage context. It requires the employer to conduct job interviews with the eye of a prospector instead of that of an inspector. Another major advantage of the talent-based approach is that it enables the organization to create a talent bank that can be used at any time. Employers need to bear in mind that the job market is constantly changing, and that they may need tomorrow what they do not require today. Let us say a company has been applying a talent-based approach to their staff selection process for some time and is about to open a new division. Because of its foresight, it is now able to go over employee profiles to determine who has the required talents to occupy new positions and is better suited to quickly satisfy the requirements of their new reality.

When a good hiring decision is made, it is also crucial for the organization to consider the selected candidate’s full range of talents from Day One. "The biggest challenge in integration is making sure that the person can tackle work that capitalizes on their talents and establishes their credibility in the first 90 days," explains Carignan. This approach therefore greatly facilitates the integration of new employees.

The talent-based selection approach is win-win for employers and candidates. Notably, job interviews in this context are far less stressful to candidates because they can showcase their innate talents – an opportunity that increases their sense of competence and leads them to open up more. According to Carignan, employees who capitalize on their talents are also less likely to suffer from work-related burnout and psychological distress: working at a job that uses your talents energizes you, stimulates you, and enables you to make the most of your skills, whereas working at a job where you have to compensate for your weaknesses saps your energy.

The talent-based selection approach has become a promising strategy in emerging job market contexts, and SPB has had the privilege of helping a great many clients move in this direction and reap all the short- and long-term rewards: increased attraction, engagement and retention of employees, and accomplishment, energy and well-being of employees.



Based on an interview with Julie Carignan, Organizational Psychologist and Partner at SPB.




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