|The Great Race for Talent is
The Great Race for talent is on again. The race
has been announced by a falling unemployment rate for college
graduates, which is down from 3.1% in January of 2004 to 2.4% in
January of this year. It has also been announced by an increase in
cost per hire, which, despite better use of technology and the use
of fewer and less expensive contractors, has crept up every year
since 2001, according to
Finally, it has also been announced by the constantly repeated
theme at recruiting conferences about how few good candidates are
The pipeline of entry-level candidates is also of great
concern. These young people have been poorly prepared for the
modern workplace and lack many core skills. A recent report issued
by ACT, called "Crisis
at the Core," underlines how poorly we have educated
On February 10th, The Wall Street Journal reported that
Google's co-founder Sergey Brin, speaking to several hundred
business analysts from Google's headquarters said, "Can we hire
the quality and quantity of people we want to? No. We're
underinvesting in our business because of the limitations of
Bob Nardelli, CEO of The Home Depot, recently said, "We will be
fighting for labor in the next five or six years. I think that
anybody who doesn't realize that there is a war on for attracting
labor is going to come up short." That is why Home Depot has
launched some very innovative and aggressive campaigns to hire and
retrain older workers and has an exciting program to attract
Despite all of this, I find a great complacency about all of
these signs among hiring managers, executives, and even
Recruiters don't see the shortage for three reasons:
- They are swamped with resumes, which obscures the fact that
most of those resumes represent people who are not qualified for
the job they applied for or any other job in their organization.
- Internal candidates are being promoted more rapidly, leaving
a gap in their wake that is more easily filled externally.
- Competition is just beginning to ramp after the past four
years of slow employment growth.
Leading-edge recruiting functions are already putting in place
the techniques, processes, and technologies that will help them to
be successful in this great race for talent.
Outlined below are several things you should be doing right now
to get ready.
Open the Eyes of Your Management Team
The most important battle you will fight is the one to defeat
the complacency and corporate pride that prevents you from getting
the support and resources you need.
Executives, especially in growing organizations with good sales
and profits, believe everyone wants to work for them. They suffer
from excessive pride in their organization and assume everyone
else feels the same. They have to realize that there are hundreds
of good companies to work for. There at least 100 just in America,
according to Business Week and Fortune magazines.
These same executives need to see what the supply of candidates
for their most important jobs looks like in the local and in the
nationwide market. The best tool to use in developing a talent
survey of a local area by zip code or other sorting schemes is
Eliyon. This Boston-based firm
offers a tool that allows you to build competitive intelligence
and conduct talent surveys for a specific zip code or for a
broader area. It can help you make convincing arguments and also
provide you with valuable market data.
Once management has an appreciation for the depth of the talent
shortage, you can move on to getting them to help you answer these
- What makes this organization so special?
- Why would anyone want to give up another job for the one you
- What are you prepared to offer me to make a move?
Organizations of every type and reputation should be focused on
crafting marketing messages and aligning their HR strategy to
build their recruiting brand and answer those questions.
Improve Your Recruiting Process
Successful wars are fought by the best trained armies, deployed
in the most efficient ways. While technology helps, it doesn't
necessarily mean success. Many wars have been won by armies that
possessed little in the way of technology proficiency, but much in
the way of efficient strategy and motivation.
Make sure you have a recruiting process that is streamlined,
flexible, and tuned to market realities. Your website should be
powerful and modern. The entire process should go smoothly and
quickly and strive to eliminate any constraints to getting the
candidate on board. Most organizations have recruiting and HR
policies that are reflective of the time when we had surplus
talent and could put numerous hurdles in front of candidates and
expect them to clear them without protest.
A candidate today is looking for a clean and simple recruiting
process, one that is fair, short, and quick to provide feedback
and a decision very quickly. They will move to a competitor's site
or take a competitor's offer unless you act efficiently. Does your
process deliver that?
Screen and Assess Better
In order to reduce resume piles to manageable numbers and to
clear the chaff from the wheat, so that you and management have a
better view of the kinds of candidates that are applying, you need
to put up an effective screening and assessment process.
Today's technology allows you to do this with your recruiting
website very effectively.
There are more than 80 companies that offer screening and
assessment tools online. Get a copy of Dr. Charles Handler and Dr.
paper on how to use screening
tools more effectively, and also explore the resources Handler's
website offers for understanding
who these vendors are and what they offer.
I believe that any firm that does not have a web-based
screening and assessment strategy in place this year will start
falling behind in the race.
Widen Your Candidate Pool
When there is a shortage of anything, whoever can capture the
supply wins. It is essential that you widen your talent pool to
reach almost everyone.
World-class organizations have a K through post-retirement
policy. This means that they try to start educating and
influencing career choices as early as kindergarten, and continue
to have talent-community-building, educational events that include
the young, the elderly, and everyone in between.
You need to have a college recruiting program that provides you
entry-level talent, a good program for recruiting mid-level
professionals for their current knowledge and skill, and the
ability to tap the retired workforce for its stability and wisdom.