Brewing Internal Talent Mobility: An Interview with Adrian Tan, Practice Leader at PeopleStrong

January 26, 20216:33 pm1886 views

On this occasion, HR in Asia sits with Adrian Tan, Practice Leader – Future of Work Tech at PeopleStrong, to learn if internal talent mobility is the future of HR and why organisations are prioritising this when hiring. Read on..

Question: Adrian, thank you for taking the time and effort for this interview. As we know, Covid-19 is transforming the recruiting landscape with more leaders turning to internal talent mobility as a priority. What is behind this emerging trend?

Answer: When an organisation is hiring a candidate, the typical interview process requires a lot of effort and face time to understand the candidate. Presently, as a result of the impact of the pandemic, this process is restricted. The induction of a new employee into an organisation has been hampered because you can’t have the regular orientation (i.e.) a tour of the office, getting to know your team members, going out for team lunches, etc. Even the providence of a company laptop can be very difficult during Covid-19. Taking all these factors into account, it is easier to look internally to replace roles and positions.

Question: How can companies effectively use internal mobility to identify the right talent? 

Answer: To identify the right talent, companies have to start evaluating their talent. Employees would have undergone a sea of changes during their time at the organisation. Who they were when they joined the company would be vastly different from who they are today. There are different ways to measure an employee’s attributes. It is very similar to how you will measure a character’s strengths and weaknesses in a role-playing game to deploy them for a mission where they will naturally excel. For big companies, measuring employees’ skills across the organisation would be a good start. There are tools that aid in measuring skills, making it easy, such as Degreed, JobKred, and Pulsifi.

Question: Many people believe that finding jobs outside organisations is much easier than finding them inside. What should leaders do to change this mindset?

Answer: According to the Global Human Capital Trends survey 2019, more than 50% of the respondents stated that it would be easier to find a new job in a different organisation than in their existing company. This mindset has not changed much in 2020 as well.

For employees to change their mindset, there has to be visible precedence of internal mobility in the organisation. This encourages employees to start looking for promotions and changes within the organisation and it also helps improve their confidence in the company. If leaders guard their team members, internal mobility will be impossible, and it will never occur to employees that finding jobs inside the company is possible. For internal mobility to work, there needs to be a major emphasis from the leadership to recommend and encourage employees to consider internal mobility.

Question: But at the same time, organisations also tend to look for external sources for needed skills and capabilities instead of looking into their current workforce. What is your opinion on this?

Answer: It depends on the leaders’ outlook and mindset towards encouraging their employees to shift internally. If leaders don’t release their team members, the natural option is to look outside the existing workforce. According to Deloitte research, companies that promoted employees internally were 32% more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their new hires. Organisations should capitalise on this resource pool that will benefit them greatly. They can start by designing a process to identify employees with the right skills to shift internally.

Question: When an organisation is committed to enhance their talent mobility, what are the skills or even tools they should be preparing?

Answer: The skills and tools depend on the roles they are preparing for, what is necessary and what the situation demands. At a fundamental level, soft skills cannot go wrong. Companies should make sure that employees have the inclination and interest to learn continuously, so as to eliminate the limiting belief ‘I just cannot learn new tricks’.

Question: How does internal talent mobility affect recruitment software and agencies? 

Answer: Certain Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have components of internal mobility in-built, like PeopleStrong Alt Recruit. The central premise for any recruitment software is to find the right talent for the role, regardless of where they come from. However, internal talent mobility will have an impact on recruitment agencies since they make money based on the placement procured by the candidate. It is highly unlikely that a company will pay an agency to recommend their own employees for a role.

Question: At PeopleStrong, how do you see this changing HR environment, and what does PeopleStrong do to stay ahead of the curve?

Answer: At PeopleStrong, we already have Internal Job Mobility (IJM) in our ATS, so any new job alerts and posts can be easily promoted and pushed to employees and the public. Likewise, matching candidates with the right jobs is not just externally for new candidates, but it also applies internally to existing employees as well. Our mission is to find the right talent for a role, no matter where they come from.

About Adrian Tan

Adrian is the Practice Leader – Future of Work Tech at PeopleStrong, an India-based Enterprise HR SaaS platform, and is the Council member with Singapore Human Resources Institute. He is tasked to drive thought leadership and be the voice of leading topics and megatrends in the
technology that supports the Future of Work.

He has co-written a career guidebook – ‘Everything You Wish to Ask a Headhunter’. Currently, he writes extensively about HR Tech on his blog ( and created the Singapore HR Tech Market Map since 2017. While he isn’t penning on his blog or ChannelNewsAsia, he enjoys spending quality time with his four kids and two frogs. He can be contacted

Content rights: This exclusive interview content is produced by HR in ASIA. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in this interview is prohibited. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content.

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