What is the War for Talent?
I have been in recruiting / talent acquisition for 19 years and for as long as I can remember, I have heard the term “War For Talent.” This term simply refers to the challenge of finding and keeping good people on your team or in your company. I Googled this phrase earlier this week and found references to this term from 1997 – literally 22 years ago! So perhaps the war for talent is like a real war that can go on for years until one side comes out victorious or there is a peaceful resolution. Or maybe the real challenge of finding good talent is something that transcends time and is an ongoing issue in 2019 as much as it was twenty years ago.
The Struggle is Real
I am currently working with a client who reached out to me directly to fill a critical role on their team. They have had the position open for several weeks and were unsuccessful in finding a candidate to fill the position. This is not a strange job with a sketchy company. Rather, it is a new role with a strong, reputable company that is in a growing section of a large metro area. Business is good with increasing revenue, but all of that clearly has not made it easy. This company along with others I work with continue to experience the struggle in finding good talent. Over the years us “headhunters” will jokingly say, “the war for talent is over – and talent won!” This is really nothing more than a humorous assessment of the efforts required to source and hire qualified people. A strong economy and low unemployment merely add to the challenge.
The struggle is real for retailers like Home Depot, Costco, Target and Kohl’s who have referenced this “war for talent” recently in their efforts to expand their teams .
What is Your Battle Plan?
Sitting where I do gives me a close up view of the action. My perspective on “the war” has evolved with experience. There will likely always be a challenge in finding the right talent to fill key roles, so I prefer to focus on the things we can control, namely the means by which we go to war – the approaches we use and our mindset about finding and keeping good people.
It’s become glaringly apparent to me that the tools, processes, budgets and organization around recruitment are often poorly developed, under resourced or given such little support that companies head into the war for talent poorly equipped.
This is one of the main reasons hiring managers are frustrated, recruiters disillusioned and candidates cynical. The war is raging but companies that take the necessary approaches to attract and hire are the ones who “win” the best candidates. It requires a creative approach and a business mindset to consider how companies can attract and approach potential candidates, build and highlight their cultures to the market, invest in the right resources (headcount and tools) and establish recruitment processes that work and don’t subject candidates to a “black hole” or a mysterious, complex series of steps that keep them in the dark.
Candidates Deserve Better
On the south side of the Atlanta metro area, we started offering a monthly event to job seekers called the Innovative Power Hour. As people have come to these events we continue to hear unsolicited stories from people who are desperately trying to find jobs. A few weeks ago, an engineering professional shared that he has been searching for a position for over a year and his experience with companies is to not hear from them at all or to have a call with a recruiter only to be left in the dark, wondering what happened. This individual has great experience, presented himself well, was articulate and professional – someone I would gladly place with a client if they were looking for a skilled engineering leader. Candidates assume in a market with low unemployment, they have a better chance at finding positions for which they have a shot at. But that is often not what they find. So we try to give them insights on how to improve their odds by better navigating the job search landscape, growing their networks, finding success in getting interviews, and simply helping them work around broken recruiting models that many companies use.
One War Everyone Can Win
Yes, there is still a “War for Talent” in 2019 and in many industry sectors and markets around the globe, the challenge in the talent war has multiple players. Companies must arm themselves to ensure the recruitment experience is successful both for themselves as well as the candidates they seek to attract. The talent in the market wants to be found and is seeking opportunities (yes, many need more motivation along with some coaching) but companies will need to be far more thoughtful, creative and intentional to identify, attract and hire effectively.
This talent war is one that everyone can win. Companies can win the war for talent if businesses leaders will design their recruitment efforts in the same fashion as they market to and treat their customers. Simple processes, “talent” branding, thoughtful communication and great candidate experiences which attract and compel people to want to work for them. Job seekers and candidates can win the war by working hard to be found, being diligent in their search and communication efforts, preparing well for interviews and exercising patience in the recruitment process.
Let’s turn the tide on this ongoing War For Talent and give everyone a Win-Win.