The Definitive Guide to Talent Mapping

HR departments often hire reactively — meaning they only seek to fill positions as they open up. Talent mapping is a powerful alternative.

What Is Talent Mapping in Recruitment?

Talent mapping is a proactive approach used to forecast long-term hiring needs and subsequently cultivate organizational support for new roles over time. It bridges the gap between a company’s goals and the personnel they must hire to reach them.

This exercise might seem simple, but as a company grows it can be difficult to predict future hiring needs at scale. It requires HR professionals, recruiters, and executive leadership to all have a seat at the table.

The Benefits Of Talent Mapping

In the modern recruiting landscape, talent mapping has three primary advantages:

Fill talent gaps faster. Talent mapping helps businesses plan and secure the necessary resources for a role before the vacancy even exists.

Utilize top talent within your ranks. Talent mapping helps businesses identify star performers and high-potential employees. You can then develop their skillsets for future leadership positions that are pivotal to your business goals.

Preserve hiring resources. Talent mapping helps companies grow strategically. Rather than wasting time and money on unnecessary hires, it allows you to prioritize open positions that will have the biggest impact on company growth.

How To Map Talent

While execution will differ for every company, here’s a breakdown of how it should generally work.

1. Identify Staffing Objectives for the Future

First, you must align with your leadership team to get a feel for the broader company vision. Before you can start the talent mapping process, you must have definitive answers to the following questions:

  • Ideally, where will the company be in five years, ten years, or even twenty years?
  • Are there any major changes planned in the next five years?
  • Where does the company need more support?
  • What departments are lacking the most direction, organization, or skills?

Next, it’s time to meet with the leaders of each department to get their feedback on how the current staffing situation aligns with the company’s future. The goal of these conversations is to uncover the following:

  • What skill sets do you need on your team to reach the business goals put forth by executives?
  • Will you need more staff to meet the demands of this initiative?
  • How do you see the department structure changing in order to meet this need?

Once you collect this crucial information, we recommend putting together a set of preliminary organizational charts—one that depicts your current structure, one that shows where you want to be in a year, and one that shows where you’d like to be in five years. Of course, these will likely change, but putting these plans down on paper will provide you with the visual structure you need to move forward with the talent mapping process.

2. Assess Current Employee Performance

Now that you have an overall view of future staffing needs, identify high-potential staff who align with your company’s strategic priorities. To do this, work with team managers to assess their direct reports.

We recommend using something called the performance-potential matrix—a nine-box chart that measures the strengths and weaknesses of current employees and assesses their potential to grow into leadership roles.

“Don’t forget that while people come into your organization to perform a specific job—they might have backgrounds in other departments,” says Kerry Moore, VP of talent acquisition at ZoomInfo. “There’s always prior experiences and skillsets you can tap into. What have they done in the past and where do they want to go in the future? What unique experiences do they add to your toolkit that you can leverage instead of hiring externally?”

Consider how you can build existing talent rather than buy new talent. For this reason, employee assessments should be clearly documented, kept on hand, and regularly updated as new members join your staff.

3. Use Competitors as a Guide

Next, take a look at your biggest competitors. See what positions, skills, certifications, and even departments you lack in comparison. With the help of recruiting intelligence, you can view org charts and see how a company has structured their departments, analyze who reports to who, and identify any job titles you might be missing on your own staff.

The purpose of this exercise is to strategically analyze how your competitors are growing, their plans for the future, and potentially highlight a role, department, or skillset you’re lacking. Here are a few examples:

Example One:

Your CEO tells you he is primarily focused on generating brand awareness in the next five years. So, you take a look at a competitor who has a much larger audience and higher engagement rates. You see how their marketing department is structured, where they source their top talent, and what skills their team has that yours lacks. In your research, you discover one company has a dedicated brand manager, a role you can potentially work into your own marketing department.

Example Two:

Consider how a competitor’s job titles differ from yours. For example, let’s say a competitor does not have customer support representatives but instead uses a different title for a similar role—customer success specialists. This subtle difference indicates the position is focused on proactively helping customers get the most out of products as opposed to handling issues as they come in. Using this insight, you can draw conclusions about the company’s business model and plans for the future.

Example Three:

You study your competitors’ recent hires and see that many of them have hired blog writers that also have extensive SEO experience — which many of your writers lack. This observation reflects a larger trend within your industry. Content marketing and SEO have become intrinsically linked and content writers must be comfortable with SEO best practices. Moving forward, you use this information to develop a marketing team with a more diversified skill set.

4. Identify Key Industry Players and Create a Database of Passive Candidates

Although HR personnel typically prefer to promote and hire from within, not every gap can be filled by an existing employee. When you need to outsource talent, we recommend you start by identifying key players and passive candidates in your industry. You can proactively contact ideal candidates, build relationships, and gauge their interest in future positions so you can bring the best possible people on board.

Talent Map With The Help of ZoomInfo TalentOS

It’s important to regularly revisit and revise your plans as your company evolves.

“Most companies talent map once a year, good companies do it twice, and great companies are always thinking about talent and who’s coming and going,” says Moore.

Ready to source the most talented candidates on the market quickly and efficiently? Try a free trial of TalentOS today.