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The skill-based talent flywheel
The talent management funnel comprises three key components:
Talent acquisition:
Attracting, identifying, recruiting, and onboarding skilled and qualified individuals
Talent development:
Nurturing, enhancing, and fostering the knowledge and capabilities of employees to optimize their potential, elevate their performance, and contribute to success of the organization
Talent planning:
Anticipating, scrutinizing, and catering to the organization's immediate and future talent requirements
Talent Acquisition - Skills for a wider and relevant talent pool
By adopting a skills-based approach in talent acquisition companies achieve two main benefits
Tap into an expanded talent pool, reducing time-to-close hence improving talent acquisition efficiency
Narrow down the talent pool based on specific skills needed for a job role, ensuring the hired employees can perform at a high level from the onset, reducing the time required to upskill, resulting in enhanced levels of productivity.
Talent pool when only looking at job titles
Talent pool when including skills (JavaScript, CSS, Angular, HTML and jQuery)
Let’s take the example of a front-end engineer. When seeking a front-end engineer, companies can emphasize proficiency in specific programming languages, frameworks, and tools rather than relying solely on candidates who have held that specific title in the past.
By doing so, employers are able to consider talent that may have otherwise been excluded. In a competitive market, this enhanced talent pool offers greater flexibility in hiring and increased opportunities to connect with candidates who possess unique skill sets and perspectives.
To show skill-based hiring in action we relied on Aura data to compare two talent pools for front-end engineers in the US. The first one was built by looking for people who displayed a front-end job title in their public profile such as “front-end engineer” or “front-end developer”. The second talent pool was built by simply looking at the people’s skills - we looked for workers who showed a combination of front-end skills such as JavaScript, CSS, Angular, HTML and jQuery.
A skill based search for front-end developers enlarged the talent pool by +292%
The map shows the sizes of talent pools by state by number of front-end engineers by title (orange) and by skills (purple). In all 51 states we found that the talent pool for front-end roles is significantly enlarged when skills are used in the search rather than job title, on average by +292%.
A second use case of skills in talent acquisition highlights the importance of narrowing down a broader talent pool based on specific skills to create what we refer to as a 'targeted talent pool'. When hiring for specialized positions, companies must ensure that the selected candidate is able to contribute effectively to the organization's success with minimal onboarding time. By focusing on specific skills within a job role, such as expertise in a particular front-end framework or experience with specific project management methodologies, employers can identify candidates who have already demonstrated the ability to excel in the required competencies.
A skill-based search for specific data visualization front-end skills narrowed the talent pool by 94%
A new set of software engineering hotspots are emerging away from cities with physical office outposts
To showcase this in action we looked again at the same talent pool for front-end engineers in the US based on title and for whom we have skills data for, which resulted in an initial talent pool of ~13K people. But this time we narrowed it down to a more refined pool of people by only selecting those who showed a more exhaustive list of front-end skills that would correspond to a front-end developer with expertise in building rich, interactive, and visually compelling user interfaces and data visualizations for web applications: JavaScript, React.js, Redux, D3.js. Resulting in a ‘targeted talent pool’ consisting of 768 candidates.
By shifting the focus from job titles to skill sets, companies stand to benefit from a larger talent pool and a more effective hiring process, while simultaneously ensuring that employees brought on board are ready to perform at a high level quickly.
Talent Development – Upskill to retain talent
The skills required for success are constantly changing across all knowledge worker roles, organizations must be agile and focused on providing their employees with the necessary training and upskilling opportunities. In doing so, companies can improve their employee value proposition and increase employee retention, resulting in a highly competent workforce.
By analyzing these changes in the required skills, companies can better understand the imperative nature of staying up to date with emerging trends and evolving industry needs. This awareness enables them to make more informed decisions about investing in ongoing employee training and development so that their workforce remains at the forefront of their respective domains.
We used Aura data and compared the top 20 demanded skills for 8,780 job postings for front-end engineers in 2019 and for 3,914 job postings in 2023.
of the top 20 skills demanded for front-end developers changed in 4 years
In the span of four years 25% of required skills for front-end engineers have changed as companies have increased focus on non-technical skills such as Leadership and Mentorship over hard skills such as legacy programming languages like HTML5 and libraries like jQuery. Typescript, a JavaScript superset has emerged as the de-facto industry standard in front-end development, placing as the 6th most required skill in 2023.
of the top 20 skills demanded for front-end developers varied significantly in 4 years
Another 25% of required skills have witnessed a significant variation over the past 4 years: legacy style sheet language CSS has dropped by 19% and open-source framework Angular by 14%. By witnessing significant changes in 1 out 2 skills required by the job market in its engineering workforce, organizations can proactively engage with intention in workforce reskilling programs rather than simply reacting to market changes.
We used Aura data and compared the top 20 demanded skills for 8,780 job postings for front-end engineers in 2019 and for 3,914 job postings in 2023.
Talent Planning – Plan around skills to unlock the flywheel
The first wave of remote working following the pandemic saw workers relocate to new locations within their home countries. Even employers with full “work from anywhere” policies often require staff to remain within the same country as a company home office for most of the year.
These firms are slowly moving towards a more geographically distributed model, however. The proportion of the workforce from our group of “work from anywhere” companies within North America fell from 75% to 67% in 3 years. Workers in Asia rose particularly sharply, more than tripling from 3% to 10% since 2017.
Given the domestic shift already happing in the US, and the clear benefits of a distributed model to workers and employers alike, perhaps it is only a matter of time before a genuinely global “work from anywhere” model emerges.
We used Aura data and compared the top 20 demanded skills for 8,780 job postings for front-end engineers in 2019 and for 3,914 job postings in 2023.
The coding skill shown with the highest frequency by engineers at CentralSquare is SQL (48%), a standardized programming language used for managing and manipulating relational databases. Relative to CentralSquare, Mark43 engineers show a greater familiarity with back-end programming languages such as Java (56% vs 25%) and Python (34% vs 14%), and front-end programming languages such as JavaScript (51% vs 30%) and jQuery (21% vs 11%). At the same time they show less familiarity with back-end programming language C# (22% vs 36%) and full-stack language .NET (11% vs 17%).
When taken together, significant differences in coding skills can unveil deeper insights about the two companies’ underlying technology stacks. By grouping programming languages by tech stack we are able to infer that CentralSquare and Mark43 are building competing products relying on two very different stacks: while CentralSquare relies on the Microsoft tech stack (C#, .NET, C), Mark 43 relies on a more modern stack (Java, Python, JavaScript, jQuery).
Such insight, unknown to the executive suite can inform product strategy and by consequence the overall talent strategy. Adopting a skill-based talent acquisition approach we verified that the talent pool for people with skills associated with the Microsoft tech stack (C#, .NET, C), consists of only 34,575 candidates, while the pool associated the more modern stack (Java, Python, JavaScript) consists of 251,140 candidates. We can therefore imply that CentralSquare will likely encounter more difficulties when hiring for engineering talent compared to its direct competitor Mark43.
Talent Pool for Micorsoft tech stack engineers (C#, .NET, C)
Talent Pool for modern tech stack engineers (Java, Python, JavaScript)
About Us
Founded by Bain & Company in 2020, Aura is a workforce analytics platform consisting of over 10M companies, 950M working professionals, 20M skills, 400M jobs, daily updates, and easy reporting. Through a convenient monthly subscription service and with a track record of servicing hundreds of Bain & Company’s clients, Aura is your partner in understanding workforce-related topics, such as hiring patterns, retention, promotion, employee efficiency, diversity and inclusion. Experience the future of workforce analytics and unlock your competitive edge with Aura.
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