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Talent Mapping

Talent Mapping Services

Executive Talent Mapping

Executive talent mapping identifies top executives from ideal target companies. Talent mapping also builds executive talent pools to make in-house executive recruiting teams more successful.

Succession Talent Mapping

We identify and qualify potential successors for your senior executive team to ensure uninterrupted operations. Succession mapping also allows you to benchmark your senior leadership, replace underperforming executives, and immediately replace an executive you suspect may be leaving.

Online Org Charts

Online Org Charts are an additional deliverable and product of talent mapping engagements. They are visual depictions of reporting relationships at target companies, showing you who reports to whom. In the online format, each profile in the chart is clickable, enabling you to view the photo, biography, contact information, pertinent links, and more.

Talent Mapping Org Charts

What is Talent Mapping?

Talent Mapping Defined

Talent Mapping, also known as Executive Market Mapping, is the most potent form of executive search research. The sourcing technique identifies and profiles virtually every single executive candidate at target companies of your choosing. Moreover, it can even show who they are in relation to their bosses when talent mapping includes org chart research.

Talent Mapping produces a comprehensive list of executives for in-house executive search teams to pursue. The passive candidate list includes profile photos, biographies, diversity details, and verified contact information. The Talent Mapping data can be provided to you in a variety of formats including PDFs for easy reading and Excel for easy sorting and importing. As a result, Talent Maps eliminates the need to conduct candidate sourcing for executives at the companies you mapped. You already know who they are.

Talent Mapping provides comprehensive lists of potential candidates-at-the-ready for your executive openings as they arise. More important, it makes it possible for in-house recruiting teams to become much more strategic and proactive in their approach to attracting and recruiting great leaders. In fact, talent mapping helps ensure that a company will have the leadership and technology talent that it needs to remain competitive in the coming years.

Talent Maps Capture the Organizational Structure

More expert Talent Mapping not only produces lists of virtually every executive at target companies, it also develops reporting relationships — determining who reports to whom. That essential building block for org charts provides valuable competitive insights. Human capital intelligence makes talent acquisition much more strategic. Learning how a competitor is structured, where the company’s talent is located, and what kind of talent the company is recruiting tells you a great deal about the competitor’s operations and strategy. It sheds light on where your competitor is (and is not) making investments, and where they’re operating efficiently. It informs your company’s thinking on how to structure your own teams for competitive advantage.

Yet Talent Mapping’s strategic value reaches far beyond human resources and talent acquisition. Understanding where a competitor is growing and what kind of talent it is acquiring can shed light on secret products in development that have yet to be announced. It can identify M&A targets for your company to acquire. The possibilities are virtually endless. When executive talent mapping research, also known as executive market mapping, is shared with your senior leadership team, they provide actionable intelligence. These Executive Market Maps hold the potential to save millions of dollars, speed time-to-market, and produce tens of millions of dollars in revenues.


A hiring executive at one of the world’s largest and most successful technology companies reported that Talent Maps shaved 6 months off of his product development cycle, saving the company millions of dollars while gaining a first-mover advantage.

How Do You Initiate the Talent Mapping Process?

Set the Talent Mapping Strategy

The Talent Mapping process usually starts with Chief People Officer who aligns executive talent acquisition, talent development, and talent retention with the overarching corporate strategy and vision. As part of the process, Human Resources and Talent Acquisition leaders determine what kind of talent the company will need in the coming years to achieve its objectives. They identify current and future gaps in the organization’s human capital. That lays the groundwork for talent mapping success; talent mapping must surface potential candidates to bridge the gaps in talent.

Refine Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

Next, HR leaders fine-tune the company’s Employer Value Proposition (EVP) — the reasons current employees stay and future employees join the company. While compensation is important, research conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute has found that increasingly executives are seeking work/life balance, a positive culture, and convenience. Moreover, they expect diversity in the workplace that treats diverse workers well. The EVP requires respect, equity, and inclusion. Additionally, today’s professionals want work that is more than “just a job”. They want it to have meaning and purpose.

Calibrate Company Talent

Talent mapping then looks within the company to assess the quality of talent it currently has. In doing so, it establishes a human capital baseline. It determines where the company is in its human capital journey and where it wants to go. Human Resources Leaders and Heads of In-House Executive Recruiting review their current bench of executive leadership and senior technology talent, examining their knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs).

As part of the Talent Mapping process, HR and Talent Acquisition leaders identify top performers as well as rising stars to develop. They flag executives who are talent flight risks for action. While they explore ways to retain the flight risks, they make a note to identify possible successors in the talent maps of their competitors. HR leaders also flag underperforming executives. While they train, coach, or reassign the executive to help them become successful, they also tee up possible replacements.

Formulate an Ideal Candidate Profile

By now, HR and Talent Acquisition leaders have a clear idea of what kind of talent thrives at the company. Develop that insight to formulate an Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP). You do that by engaging in conversations with the Hiring Executives and other key stakeholders. Look for common themes.

  • What universal character traits, experience, and education do you seek in all your executives? Of those, which traits are must-haves and which traits are nice-to-haves?
  • What companies have your successful hires come from? Is there a former employer that you recruit from frequently or that seems like a cultural match with your company?
  • What functionally-specific character traits are you seeking for each function?
  • Most companies need to boost diversity. When you examine the ideal candidate profile is it inclusive? Or do some of the requirements eliminate diverse talent?
    • Example: One client used to require senior leaders to have managed large teams of more than 300 people. They dropped that requirement when they realized that eliminated virtually all women and BIPOC. Women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color often are not promoted into managerial roles as quickly as white men. That initial delay holds slows their climb up the career ladder. As a result, most have not yet had the opportunity to lead massive teams.
    • Example: Another client used to require that all applicants to have graduated college with a 3.5 Grade Point Average or higher. They dropped that requirement when they realized that was not a predictor of success. The one predictor linked to being successful at the company the candidate was resilience. Someone who works their way through college may not have gotten a 3.5+ GPA simply because they didn’t have as much time to study. But those scrappy candidates turned out to be more successful than candidates with 4.0+ GPAs from the best colleges who had not yet developed the same level of resilience and determination.

Note: This is the point in the process where In-House Executive Search Leaders hand off talent mapping to a strategic recruitment partner. They delegate talent mapping of competitors to an executive search research firm or a retained executive search firm. The reason for the hand-off is simple. Talent mapping research is time-consuming. It requires certain tools that an in-house executive search team may not have. Most important, it requires a firm adept at competitive intelligence with investigative research expertise.

Working With a Talent Mapping Partner

Select Target Companies to Map

In order to engage the services of a Talent Mapping partner, you will need to decide what companies you want to target for talent mapping. Most companies target top competitors, academy companies, and companies from which they regularly poach talent. Frequently, they want to look at white-hot innovative companies — either companies that went public recently or startups with delayed IPOs.

Questions to consider:

  • What companies are “growing” the experience you are seeking in leadership talent?
  • What companies would you like to study to better understand what has made them so successful?
  • What companies would you like to target to learn where their talent is based and how their teams are structured?

We recommend that the Target Company List be prioritized and sorted into 3 groups. That will enable the Talent Mapping partner to focus their efforts on what is most important first.

  1. The first group usually features top competitors.
  2. The second group often includes additional competitors and academy companies in other industries that consistently develop great talent, such as the top technology companies.
  3. The last group may include companies in adjacent industries, high-profile startups that IPOed, or late-state startups with delayed IPOs.

Scope the Talent Mapping Engagement

Once you have a prioritized list company list, we recommend you engage in conversations with your strategic recruitment partner that will be conducting the research. Your research partner will need to estimate how much work is involved and define the deliverables.

  • Do you simply want a list of profiles of executives at target companies with biographies and contact information?
  • Do you want a list of profiles with human capital intelligence derived from developing reporting relationships?
  • Do you want profiles, intelligence, and online org charts with clickable profiles, biographies, contact information, and more?

The last option requires the greatest research expertise. It is also the most powerful form of talent mapping. The target company research usually consists of mapping the entire leadership team from the Chief Executive Officer down to the desired level — usually Vice President or Senior Directors.

In other words, researchers start with the first level: the Chief Executive Officer (L1). Next, they research the direct reports of the CEO (L2), and the direct reports of the direct reports (L3) down to the desired level. Of course, every corporation is different, so the levels and titles vary. For example, at Microsoft, SVPs are Corporate Vice Presidents. Every organization is structured differently.

For very large companies (i.e. Amazon) on your target list, limiting the scope of the research is advised. Don’t go down so deep into the organization. You may also benefit from skipping less important functions or divisions. Remember, for every level down you go, the amount of leadership profiles increases exponentially. Every executive has direct reports.

If you go too deep, you can quickly get into identifying hundreds of senior executives for a single company — spending too much time on one target. So for very large companies (i.e. Amazon) on your target list, limiting the scope of the research is advised. Don’t go down so deep into the organization; skip less important functions and divisions; limit the work geographically, such as focusing only on just the US.

Warning: If you try to limit the work too much, you break the chain of reporting relationships up to the CEO. In other words, you break the org chart. You lose the intelligence conveyed when you see how the company is organized structurally.

Conduct Talent Mapping Research

Like pins on a map or boxes on an org chart, Talent Mapping researchers identify, profile, and build out contact information for every executive they find at a target company. In doing so, they create a database of actionable executive profiles that are ready for a recruiter to contact.

Conducting research to figure out who reports to whom is like piecing together a giant jigsaw puzzle. It is nuanced investigative work. In fact, it can be pretty mind-numbing for normal humans, but for the nerdy research associates who enjoy solving puzzles and figuring things out, the work is incredibly satisfying.

Researchers verify as many reporting relationships as possible using public sources of information, such as company press releases and SEC filings. Those confirmed relationships coupled with other intelligence enable the researchers to infer reporting relationships based on levels of their titles, the names of divisions, departments, and their teams — along with other clues.

Because the work involves some educating guessing, talent mapping does not duplicate a target company’s closely held and highly confidential internal org chart. Rather, it produces a close approximation of how a target company is organized.

How Talent Mapping Benefits You

You Do Less for More Hires

Executive talent mapping identifies and profiles executives at target companies across most, if not all, functions. The investigative recruitment research provides a snapshot of executive talent available at each company. As a result, Talent Mapping eliminates the need to conduct executive candidate sourcing for any of the target companies to fill executive openings that arise. You already know who the executives are.

You Complete Executive Searches Fast

As a result, Talent Mapping research empowers you hire much more quickly. Talent Mapping produces a database of actionable executive profiles that are ready for a recruiter to contact. In-House Recruiting teams can develop candidates immediately.

You Gain Hiring Executive Buy-in

Frequently, executive search leaders sit down with hiring executives to go through the Talent Mapping profiles. Discussing potential candidates prior to outreach builds trust with the hiring executive. It enables you to get buy-in from the hiring executives on the best candidates to pursue. That not only is politically expedient, it also bolsters the success of every search engagement.

You Focus on Priority Candidates

Hiring executive buy-in enables executive recruiters to be much more efficient. They can prioritize outreach to candidates who most interest the hiring executive. They can avoid wasting time on leaders that the hiring executive would have rejected out of hand. Aligning with the hiring executive elevates the recruiting and interviewing process, making it much more enjoyable for everyone involved.

You Calibrate Contenders

Talent mapping enables an organization to calibrate the profiled executives to determine which individuals are considered to be the “best of the best”. Frequently, companies turn to executives who worked with the candidate at a former employer. Alternatively, they check through back channels. The calibration prioritizes recruiting so you can focus on top-performing candidates — the contenders — and eliminate prospects with troubled work histories. This calibration also brings luminaries into sharp focus — the candidates for whom you’d pull out all the stops to hire.

You Pursue Luminaries

Every one of our clients that wants to recruit industry luminaries has asked us to conduct Talent Mapping. Every. Single. One. Target mapping enables them to spot the VIPs and to pursue them, often for years. Because a luminary has invented a new technology that created entirely new markets, their work is incredibly valuable. When they invent “cool stuff” more than once, the value to the company is virtually priceless. Consequently, large tech companies with deep pockets will move mountains to recruit them.

Example: One of the most powerful and successful technology companies in the world does the following to recruit the best of the best:

  1. After identifying top talent with talent mapping, the organization commences a campaign to recruit the best of the best candidates to their company.
  2. They designate an executive recruiter and a senior executive to manage the relationship with each luminary they want to recruit.
  3. The senior executive meets in person with the luminary whenever he/she travels near the town where the luminary lives.
  4. Due to the sensitive nature of the discussions, they are careful not to be seen together in public. When they reserve a meeting room to engage in conversations, enter and exit the building at different times through different doors.
  5. The designated executive develops a trusted relationship with the luminary aimed at learning what might attract that person to the company.
  6. The company then recruits that individual the moment an appropriate position opens up.
  7. The company may even create a position for a luminary tailored to that person’s preferences.

Additional Talent Mapping Benefits

  • Talent mapping informs SWOT analysis of your company’s relative strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats compared to your competitors.
  • Talent mapping enables companies to benchmark current leaders by comparing them to executives in similar roles at their competitors.
  • The research informs succession planning and provides a list of possible successors for the senior leadership team.
  • It shows you visually where the talent that you want is currently working. If that talent pool is important to your company, it tells you where to open offices.
  • Talent maps show you where a company is growing its teams and where it is shrinking them. That valuable competitive intelligence helps you determine their next move.

For Org Charts

In conclusion, talent mapping and their byproduct org charts are forms of competitive intelligence. Consequently, major corporations use org charts to study the competition and other companies of interest. Employers use them to restructure their teams. Management consulting firms use org chart research to inform business strategy, organizational design, and management consulting engagements. In fact, they all do it to make themselves smarter.

If you’re interested in talent mapping and org chart research for your company, Intellerati can help. It’s what we do. Our org chart research serves as “talent treasure maps of senior executives at your favorite target companies. Also, check our collection of blog posts on org charts.

Got questions? Let’s talk.

If you’d like to explore possible ways to work together, let’s talk. We understand that no recruitment research firm is the right firm for every engagement every time. But, regardless, we make it a practice to listen and to try to help.