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The war for talent is escalating: How to win candidates in a competitive employment market

While futurists talk about Artificial Intelligence and robots ruling the workforce, the HR industry has a challenge that is much closer to home. Digitising recruitment and retention processes is critical in today’s hot talent market in order to strike the delicate balance between maximising profit and retaining the best staff.

This fact is amplified for a few reasons…

The fight for talent is reaching fever pitch as buying power becomes increasingly skewed in the favour of individual talent who collectively have more choice and influence over how they work and the conditions they find attractive. Employers must now appeal to the more mindful employee and what they value in a job. In PwC’s Workforce of the future report: Forces shaping 2030, 25 per cent of people said their ideal employer is an organisation with values matching their own. Even if a job looks good on paper and pays well, employees are looking for workplaces that offer a good cultural and value fit.

Market conditions are also tight and HR managers are up against challenging external forces. On the home-front, visa requirements are driving up remuneration and many businesses are paying top dollar for often less than top performers. There are also real talent shortages for high-demand jobs such as software developers, data analysts, and change managers, which doesn’t make the situation much easier for businesses requiring specialised skill.

Let’s not forget that 70 per cent of the global workforce is made up of passive talent rather than active job seekers, meaning employers need to genuinely understand their candidate and engage them more tactfully than ever before – and in places where talent isn’t ‘looking’.

Most businesses already know that talent is its biggest asset and people aren’t a commodity. This is why a people first approach to talent capture and management is likely to stick – but HR teams are still navigating this trend. Globally, only 34 per cent of CEOs believe HR is well prepared to capitalise on transformational trends, a confidence measure that needs increasing. Deloitte research also tells us that while 56 per cent of businesses are planning to leverage digital and mobile tools to improve HR, only nine per cent of Australian businesses understand how to build a future-ready organisation.

While there is enough evidence to show why HR needs to be digital and why HR teams need to appropriately invest in digital assets to play at a higher vantage point, many businesses are still not utilising digital technology or are using outdated and on-premise HR legacy systems with complex pricing and implementations.

Quite simply, if you want to win and retain top talent, you need to embrace digital and be equally savvy in applying the right digital tools to capture that talent. Otherwise, expect to be competing for lower hanging fruit.

Specialised HR cloud-based solutions now allow HR managers to leverage data analytics to determine, for instance, the most effective channels, time, and day to post job ads to make smarter and cost effective hiring decisions.

Best-fit candidates for instance can be sourced by identifying and measuring where current and previous top talent has come from – including which channels are most successful such as Seek or LinkedIn – to optimise recruitment spend. HR teams can also create ‘talent pools’ to efficiently hire from identified talent, as well as set and track their business’ recruitment KPI’s around time-to-hire, cost of hire, and return on investment.

To help win talent in today’s digital and competitive market, here are five talent sourcing and management processes that every business and HR manager should adopt now…


LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2017 Report asked talent acquisition managers where they’d invest the company budget. Branding topped their wish list (51 per cent), followed by new technology (39 per cent), better sourcing tools (38 per cent), candidate experience (30 per cent), and training for recruiters (29 per cent). While it takes more than an updated brand logo and good job ad to standout to potential talent, how your business presents itself in a crowded market is an important consideration – this is because the brand is a reflection of company culture and today’s employees place a high value on just that, culture.


Once the right candidate is hired they need an orientation to be aligned with business values and culture, and often, candidates need to meet certain training and compliance requirements – which typically comes at a big cost. If an employee undergoes job training and leaves six weeks after the training is complete, there is a tremendous cost burden to the organisation. A specialised onboarding program could avoid this issue. For instance, today’s onboarding programs have features that allow for seamless document capture, transparent workflows, and visibility across team and organisational profiles so that everyone is working harmoniously

Career Development

Businesses can avoid the high-cost of early staff turnover by helping new hires with a career lattice, rather than an unattainable career ladder. This approach goes beyond vertical options to vertical, diagonal and lateral career choices. Specialised cloud-based software refines and structures performance reviews and appraisals to help identify how employees can best attain their career goals and then enables managers to fill training gaps, such as by using an e-learning tool.

Eliminate poetic license

Trawling through a pile or virtual stack of CVs is still a reality for many recruiters. The right talent management software can easily and efficiently filter applications by comparing candidates’ suitability by skills, performance, potential and aspirations. Any discrepancies in their claims or career histories are also picked up as jobseekers are evaluated on their track record, not prose.


Unified HR platforms can mitigate the hire-fire cycle by having succession plans mapped out and having a risk strategy for future vacancies – this strategy should include an assessment of ‘critical’ talent and flight risk to enable efficient forecasting and planning.

To win today’s war for talent, it is essential you have the right ammunition. Arming your organisation with a ‘people first’ attitude and an effective talent management system will ensure that you attract and retain the best talent.

About the author

Danny Lessem is the founder and CEO of ELMO Software Limited (ASX:ELO), which provides innovative HR cloud technology to more than 500 organisations across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Danny has a law background and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) qualifications.

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Danny Lessem

Danny Lessem

Danny Lessem is the CEO, Executive Director and co-founder of ELMO. Member of the Audit and Risk Management Committee.

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