How to Win the Competition for Top Talent

How identifying new learning opportunities, gaps in teams, leadership potential, and promotion opportunities is your best bet for winning the race for top talent.

Current trends—many accelerated by pandemic forces beyond our control—have changed the rules of recruiting and hiring, requiring organizations to adapt and embrace new practices to compete and triumph in the future war for talent…and a war, it looks like it shall be!

Talent shortages in the U.S. have risen to historical levels, with 69% of employers having difficulty filling jobs – the highest in more than a decade. To give you an idea of what that means, Korn Ferry predicts that by 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people, roughly equivalent to Germany’s population. 

Back in March, Josh Bersin said we were entering a red hot job market, which included 13 percent more open jobs than last year. Coupled with the fact that more than three million people left the U.S. labor force over the last year and nearly four million quit their jobs earlier this year, those charged with recruiting and hiring for critical roles are constrained not only by a potential workforce shortage and an intense battle for the best talent, but they’re also facing new hiring expectations, like flexible schedules.

It’s become clear that the dynamic employment market that is in existence has done nothing to change some of the basic tenants of the talent management game. Top talent and good jobs remain in high demand. But the way you pursue acquiring that top talent for your most critical leadership roles must change — and in this post, we’ll share with you how to tap into your most potent power source — your current workforce.  

Creating a Culture of Internal Mobility: Harnessing the Power of your Current Workforce

To address the shortage and intense competition for talent, talent management professionals are focusing more attention on internal mobility, and new data is showing that those who leverage and harness the power of their current workforce are reaping the benefits. 


According to an article published in March by the Society for Human Resource Management, a study of 32 million profiles of active LinkedIn users who’ve worked at a larger company (one with more than 500 employees) since 2013 found the likelihood that an employee stays with a company decreases as the years pass. One year after being hired, there’s a 76 percent chance the worker will still be with the company. By year five, estimated retention is down to 38 percent. 


But employees who were promoted within three years of being hired have a 70 percent chance of staying onboard, and those who made a lateral move have a 62 percent chance of staying. Those who were not promoted and who did not change jobs internally have only a 45 percent chance of remaining.


Further, in new research of North American and European workers, Lighthouse Research & Advisory found that 88% of employees would stay at a job if they had career and growth opportunities ahead, but more than 60% have left a job in the past because they didn’t see any way to advance. 

Key Trend: Recruiting will hire less, but build and borrow more from within.

1 out of 2 talent professionals expected their recruiting budget to decrease.

2 out of 3 expected their L&D budget to increase or stay the same.

Resulting in 20% increase in internal mobility since the onset of COVID-19


In addition, nearly 50 percent of talent professionals who responded to a LinkedIn survey expect their recruiting budget to continue to decrease while 66 percent anticipate their learning and development (L&D) budget to increase or stay the same. This data suggest that employers will rely on building their workforce through internal mobility programs tied to reskilling initiatives or engage contingent talent instead of hiring externally. 

Big Benefits of Leveraging your Current Workforce

Increased engagement, lower costs, and a shorter time-to-hire and onboard are just a few of the benefits of the shift to internal mobility. But the biggest benefit may be improved retention, said Mark Lobosco, Vice President of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn. 


“Data show that employees stay 41 percent longer at companies that hire internally compared to those that don’t. As companies continue to experience the benefits of internal mobility, we’ll begin to see it shift from an ad hoc solution to an essential corporate strategy. This will lead to HR and L&D partnering closer than ever before to better understand existing skill sets, address skill gaps in their organization and build more robust internal mobility programs.”


Even though upskilling initiatives have been a major focus by many companies even before the pandemic, we’ve seen a significant rise in investment by employers in this area. For example, Mastercard is upskilling their staff to compete with start-ups, encouraging them to develop new skills through the learning platform Degreed.


Steve Boucher, VP of Global Talent Development at Mastercard, has said, “in order to remain competitive, we had to embrace new technologies and expand. To do this, Mastercard’s company culture would have to evolve to accelerate innovation and pivot product development towards developing digital technology offerings.”


They decided to use Degreed, offering personalized learning experiences, creating relevant pathways and helping employees connect to the content that is pertinent to them. Ninety-six percent of Mastercard’s workforce now regularly engages with learning through Degreed – which is testament to how effective and aligned it is with the business’ and individual goals. 


Building cultures focused on internal skill development and growth have become of paramount importance. To do it, companies are bringing once siloed HR programs such as learning, career, and internal mobility together with skills and technology in order to enable personalization and to create a thriving internal marketplace for talent.

Using Technology to Identify Internal Candidates for Promotion

Partnering with L&D and HR, talent acquisition professionals have an opportunity to lead a rigorous internal mobility program, rather than leaving it to hiring managers or ad hoc practices. While cataloging and measuring employees’ current skills and psychometrics — that is, the sum of their behaviors, motivators, and work energizers — companies can more clearly than ever tie internal job opportunities to relevant L&D resources to help employees fill any qualification gaps.

Once you have the culture analytics of your teams, you can identify potential leaders and tailor opportunities that help them develop into the roles you have available. It might mean prioritizing internal applicants’ potential and transferable skills over their technical capacity to do specific tasks — and moving away from static jobs in siloed departments and toward project-based cross-functional work, where employees can shift to new projects as business needs change. 

When you have the data needed to identify who you can tap on to fill critical roles right now while developing team members for future opportunities, you’re helping improve employee retention and support your team members. As a result, the race for talent becomes more of a marathon and less than a one-and-done sprint — and this win is so much more satisfying!

We can help you identify those best suited for new learning opportunities and those ready to move into new roles. Request your free team culture map from us so you can start identifying internal mobility opportunities for your team members today. 

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