Talent Mapping in a Low-Activity Market

AboveBoard | Apr 26, 2023


Recent data shows that talent partners at VC and PE firms are planning for a relatively flat year, opening up the opportunity for them to invest in proactive efforts like talent intelligence, market mapping, and networking. 

In a survey conducted by Thrive, talent partners said their top initiatives for the year were pointed to those initiatives, but that they were blocked by not having appropriately consolidated and enriched data sources. 

Through conversations with in-house talent acquisition leaders, we often hear the same. And the blocker becomes real: With all the reactive components of the role still commanding time, it’s not possible to ensure a truly holistic and inclusive search process without the inputs gathered through proactive talent intelligence research.

The Value of Proactive Talent Intelligence Research

Scenario planning, succession planning, competitive intelligence: all of it is at its most valuable when it’s needed. But if you’re never able to get to it, it leaves you in a lurch when the time comes.

Sounds obvious, of course, but the result is often felt in opportunity cost.

An example: If a “good time” leader gets replaced with a “downtime” leader, there are likely downstream effects from that. But what archetype of candidate might be the best fit for that new leader and the business? Do you already have connections to that archetype? Have you properly explored candidates outside your network? How do you get there fastest? How do you ensure that any pipeline you build there meets DE&I initiatives? And—coming out of a super hot market—what’s the comp range for that role now, anyway? 

Among those surveyed by Thrive, solving this problem is such a priority that half are exploring technology solutions to tackle this. The answer to why may lie in the fact that the above questions show how slate requirements are niching down, but speed is still holding steady.

So, how do you get ahead of the curve? 

Planning Your Talent Intelligence Research

Though there’s more to it, you identify the market, set filterable criteria, and refresh it regularly.

Identify the Market 

We’ve heard from multiple Heads of Talent that this is generally the most time-consuming step in the entire pipelining process, as the goal is to capture a comprehensive overview of the talent landscape for a specific industry, market sector, or from a pre-determined list of companies. 

Assessing the talent landscape to understand the players your company or portfolio company regularly interacts with and competes with could be a good starting point. Many also build out candidate archetypes during this stage–looking at common themes across recent successful hires, and taking the opportunity to flush out perspectives not yet represented within the organization.

However you approach it, market mapping puts you in a position of readiness when you do get a talent request, rather than starting from zero. You not only know what good looks like before it’s time to hire, but are also armed with salary data and intel on competitors that might help your recruitment strategy.

Set Filterable Criteria

After you get a better sense of what the talent market looks like for the functional role you’re interested in, many begin to preliminary assess recently sourced contacts for key characteristics and competencies most important to an organization.

For an executive marketing function, it could be sector-specific experience like FinTech. Or, it could be leadership capabilities managing a team of a certain size. If there is a strong preference that candidates be based locally around a company headquarters, geographic criteria become relevant. Alternatively, growth experience taking companies of a certain stage through an M&A or IPO event might be the most pressing. 

The criteria will likely differ for each role you’re trying to fill, and the more you can standardize the data points you want to look for, the more repeatable the market mapping process becomes for your team over time. 

An added benefit? You can begin to show how candidate pool size changes based off prioritized requirements—a helpful datapoint to ground conversations around search strategies.

Refresh It Regularly

A core frustration of executive talent leaders is keeping candidate data clean and up to date. The second a candidate changes companies, your existing contact data goes stale. Dedicating team resources or a certain percentage of time each month to data cleanliness activities—adding new contacts to market maps, refreshing contact data you know has changed, and updating skills tags to reflect the latest career developments—will save you time later: prepping for candidate calls, personalizing outreach, or exporting a slate to present to your team.  

It’s also a vital part of checking your processes, and making sure they don’t encourage you to just hit the same networks and communities—an important part in maintaining a diverse and exceptional talent pipeline.

Proactive Talent Intelligence, Done For You

AboveBoard streamlines your talent intelligence work by doing the research, enrichment and refreshing for you. By partnering with you to identify criteria, we deliver fully enriched candidate pools on a regular basis, helping you improve your market intelligence and build relationships with the candidates you want before you need them.

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