Essential ingredients to boost your talent recipe

The war for talent is not limited to frontline workers – even recruiters are in short supply, making it that much harder to scale recruitment on demand. So how can you re-think your organisation’s approach to talent acquisition and retention?

Talent shortages are one of the biggest restrictions to business growth in Asia Pacific. This was certainly a problem before the pandemic when Korn Ferry research suggested the region was facing an imminent labour shortage of 47 million people by 2030. [1] And continued border closures coinciding with the release of pent-up business and consumer demand has only made matters worse.

The talent crisis did not wane during the pandemic – recruitment priorities simply shifted. In countries with limited local talent pools that depend on migrant labour, sourcing highly skilled professionals has never been more challenging.

In Singapore, 45% of unfilled job vacancies last year were newly created positions – with the majority in information and communications, financial and insurance services roles. [2] In Australia, the pandemic is forcing ongoing international and interstate border closures that severely limit the flow of talent. Lack of skilled labour is creating cost blowouts for major infrastructure projects,[3] and more than one in four Australian businesses reported difficulty finding suitable staff to fill jobs in June 2021. [4]

Recruiting the recruiters

The pandemic upended traditional assumptions for how we work – and recruitment is no exception. But what happens when the people you need to find talent are also thin on the ground? It’s now ten times harder to find technical recruiters than it is to find data scientists in Australia, for example. [5]

To attract and retain the right talent in this environment, you need to make it easier for recruiters to help you find skilled talent. Automating aspects of recruitment and onboarding admin could help. Or you might even consider supplementing your talent team with employees in adjacent fields – such as sales.

One thing is for certain: you will need to re-think the entire talent process.

Set up for success

If there’s a war for talent, you need to outsmart your competition. But that doesn’t mean you have to out-pay them, even for hard-to-fill, high-demand roles such as data science, IT or engineering.

Successful organisations put these three secret ingredients to work in their talent recipe:

1. A clear and compelling employer brand – increasing employee engagement can potentially double revenue and profits,[6] so, make sure your purpose, culture and values stand out in the market.

2. A positive talent experience – a good recruitment process sets the right tone for the future employee experience. A big part of recruitment is ‘selling’ the role – and that means treating candidates with respect and care.

3. A focus on choice and inclusion – recruitment works two ways. It’s not just about finding the right person for your business but also making sure the role will empower that person to perform at their best. Be open to flexible working arrangements, and make sure your hiring practices tap into the widest possible talent pool.

Think beyond buying talent

Traditionally, recruitment focused on one task: ‘buy’ the best talent before your competitors do. But today, five other ‘Bs’ will support a smarter talent management strategy:

  • Balance – make sure the foundation is in place, with the right operational processes, structures and technology.
  • Build – reskill and upskill from within. LinkedIn data suggests Asia Pacific is outpacing global trends in internal mobility, increasing 15% in 2020. [7]
  • Borrow – consider filling short-term gaps with contractors or freelancers. This can give both parties more flexibility.
  • Bot – automate manual tasks and use machine learning to simplify routine processes. This can free-up recruiters to spend more time developing relationships with talent, and less time on admin.
  • Bind and Bounce – once you have talent in place, it’s a continual process of rewarding good performance, and managing out poor performers.

These principles will still apply long after borders re-open and economies stabilise. In the short-term, putting people first will create a positive recruitment experience. Ultimately, talent sourcing depends on human interaction. And by giving your recruiters the time and tools to focus on what they do best, you may be able to reduce at least one talent gap in your organisation: recruiters.


[1] Bridging the digital divide in Asia-Pacific, Bangkok Post, 28 July 2021
[2] Top 10 PMET and non-PMET job vacancies in Singapore in 2020, Human Resources Online – 12 April 2021
[3] Lithium giant’s lament over labour shortages, cost blowouts in WA, Australian Financial Review, August 6 2021
[6] Experience of a Human Kind, Korn Ferry July 2020