Many large or rapidly growing companies have a person responsible for talent acquisition. Aging workforces, changing skill requirements, competition for talent are all driving interest in talent acquisition. But is talent acquisition the most important way to build capabilities? That seems unlikely.

It is often better to invest in the people we already have than to go out and chase new people. Our people already understand our business and know how to work with each other. They have shown a commitment to our organization and its mission. Many of them have the desire and potential to learn and apply new skills. They should be supported.

How to do this? The starting point has to be understanding what skills people have today, how they apply them to projects, and how this impacts outcomes. This is what skill management systems do. This is only the start. It is also important to know what skills individuals are targeting to develop. Companies need to be listening for this. The skills that people want to develop are often the skills that customers are asking for and the people on the front lines are likely to hear about these first.

For TeamFit V2, we have made it easy for people to signal this. For any skill you can indicate whether it is one of your core skills, essential to your work, a target skill that you are developing, or a downgraded skill, that you have but are not currently interested in applying.

The signal needs to be two ways of course. Companies need to be able to let their people know what skills they believe will be needed in the future. At TeamFit, we are building skill bots that will go out and engage in conversations about skills in channels like Slack and Facebook. This is going to require all sorts of new skills, from bot engineering to conversation design. We are a small team so I think people are aware of this but if we were even an order of magnitude larger, this would not be the case. The next step for TeamFit will be to make it easy for companies to signal target skills and then to map individual and company target skills to find skill gaps and hidden potentials.

Most companies today have only a vague understanding of the skills of their people and how they are being applied to actual work. They can’t find this information in their HRIS or talent management systems. These former are focused on critical hygiene and compliance issues. The latter are more concerned with job roles, succession planning and performance reviews than with actual skills and their application. This is why skill management is so important. A good skill management system has a rich skill graph that connects skills to other skills, to people, to projects and to outcomes, and it uses this information to help people at all levels of the organization make decisions around skills.

For consultants – TeamFit is the best way to represent and demonstrate skills, to get on new projects and to signal what skills they want to develop.

For project managers – TeamFit helps build teams and test that the needed skills are available.

For resource managers – TeamFit makes skill, project requirements and availability transparent.

For management – TeamFit reveals skill gaps and hidden potential within the organization. This information is critical to managing any knowledge-based organization.