The war for other peoples talent

One of my biggest concerns for job seekers around the world is the gap that is opening up between the unemployed and the minimum requirements that surround the jobs that are about. The general global trend seems to be for rising open vacancies, that’s great news. The bad news is that the level of unemployment continues to grow. Not quite at the same rate, but the figures are going up just the same.

What this tells me is that the jobs that are coming up are in the areas where people have stayed employed during the recession. It is not so much a war for talent, as a war for other people’s talent.

The recruiters I know and work with back this up. Most of the people they are placing are moving from jobs rather than to employment from the unemployment line. Great for recruiters who have established good networks during the down times, but not so good if you are an out of work job seeker.

If you have been looking for that elusive opportunity over the last year, it must be frustrating. Recently I have been getting a sense of many who have been stuck in this trap giving up. That means relying on job board alerts and a few recruiters that never seem to call back. Get active! If you don’t quite fit the spec, pick the phone up. A conversation with the hiring manager is far more persuasive than an e-mail that is easy to ignore. Check your expectations against what is out there. Is it time to lower the bar a little?

If your skills don’t meet what is needed at the moment, could be time to consider retraining or an internship to learn something new. Might be hard going back to “school”, but it beats sitting at home feeling frustrated, and there must be only so much day time TV you can take.

For recruiters, jobs are there and people are starting to feel more confident in moving. You should be looking to the sectors that are hiring again and in demand, and contact every candidate that you have come across over the last few years. It’s a good time to mine the data-base or A.T.S. and start picking the phone up. People are thinking about moving now, and introducing the in demand talent to new clients. A great way to open new doors.

If you are a Hiring Manager, and you are not finding the talent you need, go back and look at your expectation. There may be lots of people unemployed, but are there lots of people unemployed that meet your spec? If you can’t find what you want look at every area of the spec. Are the “must haves” really just “wants?” Could you be flexible or find room for a training opportunity? I’m confident that with a bit of time and investment in getting someone back in to work you will find hiring much easier, pay less (though not to the point where you are exploiting) and engender real gratitude and loyalty.

For employers, be on your guard. There is a war on for your talent. Now is a good time to start implementing some retention strategies. That means talking to the people about how they are feeling right now, and what you might need to be doing to reward many of the employee sacrifices made during the tough times. Now might be a good time to hold a round of real appraisals (not performance reviews), review some of the cut backs made over the last 12 months, listen and react to feedback and suggestions and look at rewarding loyalty. Loyal employees are often taken for granted, and there are quite a few people who have fallen out of love with their employers during the recession. A public thank-you and looking at introducing retention incentives for H.R. and line managers might also help. Don’t lose the war for your talent because you were to busy fighting the battle for new top performers to take care of the home front!

Be an ambassador for your real assets,


3 comments on “The war for other peoples talent

  1. Bill,

    This is a great, timely posting: a 360 degreee view of the issues and the actions needed to move the needle. Well said.

  2. Excellent post!

  3. Bill,
    Indeed – a great post. Very comprehensive and useful. One thing that might supplement it (for recruiters use) – while going over their ATS database, they may use online pre-employment tests, to screen the new/old candidates, according to their needs for each job position.

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