War for Talent … Really?

Golden egg imageIs the War for Talent over?

The War for Talent is a term that was first coined by McKinsey’s in the late 90’s, alerting the wider business world to an imminent talent shortage and urging companies to re-think their recruitment and retention strategies.

That was the late 90’s – so what about today (and tomorrow)?

In the UK unemployment levels are at their lowest for the best part of a decade. Generation Y is predicted to have 15 jobs in their career. Most who were thinking of retiring at 60 are having to think again (delay to age 65 or even 70!).

Although interesting statements to consider, do these facts have a real impact on the total size of the pool of talent? I think not.

When the McKinsey report was written in the late 90’s we had seen a period of huge growth. Money was cheap, the world economy was booming and growth was fast and furious.

Today, after the best part of 7 years of global economic turmoil, we see much slower growth (if any at all), but change, particularly in the consumer sector, is fast.

So the least of our worries is the size of the talent pool, instead, what should keep us awake at night is that finding the right talent is becoming more difficult. Why?

Because the experience of fast growth in the 90’s is not the experience that will help you navigate today’s economic climate. And generally, the experience of 7 years of economic turmoil, will not have given you the experience required to deal with slow, cash constraint growth where the goal posts seem to move every day.

So, forget the War for Talent, this is more a Vacuum of Talent, in that there aren’t enough people with the right kind of experience available.

So what is the solution for finding and hiring the right talent for your organisation?

Let’s start off with what isn’t the solution. It is not:

  1. Trying to attract talent by unsolicited approaches via LinkedIn. On average, high calibre individuals receive up to 7 ‘cold’ approaches for specific opportunities per month. Per month! (Btw, if you are a high calibre individual and you do not experience this level of activity then you really ought to sort out your LinkedIn profile – either that or count yourself lucky!). This is more a scatter gun approach than a concerted effort to attract new talent to your business, I certainly would not call it a strategy.
  2. Once you’re lucky enough to have found a high calibre individual, to treat them like a job applicant, who is lucky to be considered for an interview.

The importance of a network

However, the solution that has proven to work time after time, is to attract high calibre individuals through their own network. Someone who they trust or whose opinion they trust needs to recommend you / your business / your opportunity to them. This will result in a ‘conversation of equals’, i.e. in the first meeting both parties conduct their due diligence. This is not a one way street of information, this is not the all-important decision maker deciding whether the individual will be lucky enough to be invited for a follow up meeting. This is the interviewer asking pertinent questions to find out whether the individual has the right attributes, experience and fit for the business, followed by a clear explanation of what is in it for the interviewee if they were to join the business. It is obvious, that if there are no clear benefits to the individual’s career development, they will be tempted to pass on this occasion and instead wait for the right opportunity to be presented. If you are not prepared to ‘sell’ your business or opportunity to the individual, then be prepared to hire mediocrity.

Making the connection

Let’s take one step back; how do you ‘infiltrate’ the network of those individuals you want to approach? Well, bearing in mind the six degrees of separation, you ought to find someone within your network, who could lead the way.

This may sound like a tedious work to you, however it is this ‘sniper’ approach that has proven to get the required results. If you’re not prepared to engage in this activity then be prepared for your competition to hire the talent before you can get to them.

It will not surprise you that executive search firms spend all of their time creating, infiltrating and developing networks of high calibre individuals. High performers always know other high performers.

So, my advice to you if you do not have the time or the contacts to attract high calibre talent to your business, is to find yourself a well-established head hunter who is a specialist in your sector. If they are the trusted ear in the industry, they will be best placed to help you.

Contact me if you need more information!

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