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What is talent mapping: guide to data driven recruitment

Increasing accessibility to talent data gives rise to a new way of sourcing talent. With talent mapping you make use of that data to enable realistic hiring goals and anticipate sourcing challenges.

September 29, 2020
Yuma Heymans
February 13, 2023

What is talent mapping?

Talent mapping is the process of analysing the entire available talent pool for a given position.

Recruiters do a talent mapping to enable realistic hiring goals and anticipate sourcing challenges.

When to do talent mapping? You do talent mapping when you want to solve a hiring problem that requires hiring at scale and/or hiring for positions that are expectedly very hard to fill.

With talent mapping you get a better understanding of the total talent pool for a set of job criteria.

You could also say that you map out the total addressable talent market for a job.

Why do a talent mapping?

Recruitment is getting more data driven.

There is not only an increasing amount of talent data but the data is also getting richer and more accessible.

Nowadays we're talking about a global talent market.

Tech companies who have cross-border impact can hire from all over the world. Especially for the remote first companies the world has become their sourcing ground, instead of being limited to local talent.

This gives rise to the opportunity of tapping into new sources of talent and truly find the best candidate there is.

This is making very ambitious hiring goals achievable.

But how do you know if your hiring goals are aligned with the actual supply of talent?

And do you understand why challenges that you encounter during the sourcing process arise?

Here talent mapping comes in.

What are the benefits of talent mapping?

Better understanding the total talent pool for your defined set of job criteria brings you the following benefits:

  1. You have a realistic overview of the total size of the talent pool (also knows as the total addressable talent market)
  2. You prevent going after a talent pool that is just too small to realistically succeed in your hiring goal
  3. You understand challenges that arise during the sourcing process better and therefore you can better manage them
  4. You align the expectations of the hiring manager and the actual capability to source for desired candidates

How to do talent mapping?

Talent mapping sounds complex but it doesn't have to be, especially when you already have experience in sourcing.

Step 1. The hiring goal.

Determine the hiring goal together with the hiring manager. Get the key questions answered before you deep dive into the actual search and analytics.

Questions to discuss with the hiring manager:

  • What position does the hiring manager needs to fill?
  • Why does she needs someone in the position?
  • What is the number of hires that she needs?
  • And in what time frame?

Tools to use for the hiring goal:

  • Primarily conversations optionally supported by tools like Zoom.

Step 2. The profile.

Define the scope of the talent mapping exercise. Determine what the profile of the desired candidate should look like.

Translate the mental picture of the hiring manager of the ideal candidate to a set of job criteria.

The categories of criteria shown below can help you.

But also think about more detailed criteria that are specific to the business domain you're sourcing for, like the industry or economic factors.

Selected job criteria

Set up the profile of the required role(s) for the hiring goal.

In the example we use we source for an Angular Developer.

We include role, skill set and seniority level as job criteria.

We don’t have any geography requirements and no diversity goals. Industry and personality are also no priority criteria.

The required high level profile looks something like this:

  • Job title - engineer (including synonyms like developer)
  • Key words - required: Angular, JavaScript, Typescript, RxJS. Optional: Jest, Sass, Karma
  • Seniority level: 8+ years experience with the mentioned required technologies

Good to realize is that there is a difference between the addressable candidate and the ideal candidate.

The addressable candidate will be a potential candidate to reach out to but doesn’t necessarily match with all the desired keywords, and the ideal candidate matches all the criteria and keywords, including optional.

Total addressable market vs. ideal candidates

Within the criteria there could be more specific criteria than mentioned here.

In some cases there are also entirely different aspects that should be included in the criteria. An example is a legal criterium like a residence permit.

Tools to use for profiling:

Step 3. The search.

Do a search based on the defined job criteria.

Is the eventual number of matching talent big enough to realistically achieve your hiring goal? If not, you want to show the limitations of the talent pool to the hiring manager and remove or adjust job criteria.

The search

You can use several approaches to finding your total addressable talent market:

> Strip then refine: start with a limited set of criteria to find the total market, then refine your search.

> Refine then strip: begin with a strict set of criteria and strip criteria to increase search results.

To get accurate unbiased results, it is important to realize that LinkedIn is not the only source of candidates. In the example of our developer for instance, a lot more developers can be found on a platform like GitHub than on LinkedIn. This same principle applies to other roles like creative or commercial roles. Read more on cross platform sourcing here.

Tools to use for searching:

Step 4. Validate.

Validate if the found profiles are indeed within the envisioned position.

Make a randomized selection of profiles by selecting eg 10 - 20 profiles out of the entire set of found profiles.

Do this across all search results pages to prevent bias by the algorithmic ranking (of eg LinkedIn).

Profile validation

Review the selection of profiles together with the hiring manager.

If these the profiles are not a good match, then refine your search by:

  • Deleting criteria (eg deciding to delete criterium on education)
  • Adding criteria (eg deciding to add a seniority level)
  • Including terms (eg adding a technology language to your key terms)
  • Excluding terms (eg excluding ‘Intern’ in job title)

As a result of this exercise, you should have the validated total addressable talent market.

Tools to use for validation:

Step 5. Compare with demand and trends.

Enrich the talent mapping by including talent demand. How many organisations are looking for these talents?

Look on job boards for similar jobs to get an idea of how competitive the market is for these talents and how much demand has changed over time.

Don’t forget that a lot or recruiters are pro-actively sourcing and not necessarily posting on job boards.

If you can find data on searches, include that data in your analysis. If not, note that in your talent mapping.

This analysis is mostly done on job title level (like Angular Developer). But if you have more accurate data that includes all the other job criteria, then use that data.

Compare talent demand (the amount of vacancies and possibly searches) with talent supply (the search results with the available talent).

This will give you and the hiring manager an indication of the difficulty of achieving the hiring goal.

Include the competition score to your talent mapping.

Talent competition score

Research the competition. Research companies that are looking for similar roles and see where they are sourcing.

Any untapped sources? Include them as suggestions for later in the execution of the sourcing strategy.

Tools to use for demand and trend analysis:

Step 6. Visualize the results.

Make a visual representation of the search results so the hiring manager and team members can understand the addressable talent market. Include the steps that were taken in the process to find these profiles.

The eventual talent mapping should give you and the hiring manager a realistic view on the achievability of the hiring goals and any challenges that can be expected during the sourcing process.

Talent mapping overview

Tools to use for visualisation:

  • Any preferred visualizations tool like design tools (Figma) or data visualization tools like Power BI

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