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Celebrating 50 years of Building High Performance Corporate Teams - 1971 to 2021

An “Outsider’s View” of the Talent Acquisition Challenge

93% of CEO’s recognize a need to change their strategy for attracting and retaining talent, according to PwC’s 14th Annual Global CEO Survey. But, “there is an enormous gap between intention and action” – 61% have yet to take the first step. Clearly, the subject of “attracting and retaining talent” is huge and daunting, and the challenges include both macro-environmental (e.g. demographics, culture, etc.) and micro-environmental (education, skills, compensation etc.) factors.

Let’s agree here to discuss just the attraction side, and to focus on the 3 components of finding (sourcing), qualifying, and hiring your desired candidate.

The age of technology is upon us, and with it comes the promise of being able to do everything faster and cheaper on-line. As the new adage goes, “most of the world’s problems can be solved with a web-app and some duct tape”. Whole industries have been turned upside down by this DIY phenomenon with instant access to information (e.g. the travel industry, music retailers, print advertising, etc.)

The recruiting/placement/staffing industry has also had to address this phenomenon of “disintermediation” (buyers eliminating the middleman and going directly to the source of supply, i.e. the “candidate”). Surely an internal HR professional armed with tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Kijiji, Monster and Workopolis and a few on-line tests should be able to attract suitable candidates faster and cheaper than an external recruiter. But is this really true?

Has this economic experiment proven itself in the real world, or is this simply an “illusion of value”?

  • Has “time to competence” decreased?
  • Has “fit” improved, making for more productive teams?
  • Has retention increased?
  • Has turnover decreased?
  • Has the ratio of performance to fully-loaded costs to hire improved?

If practitioners in the recruiting/placement/staffing industry are simply taking an automated assembly-line approach using the same technology and are charging more than firms can do it themselves, then they deserve to be “disintermediated”.

On the other hand, if sourcing, qualifying, and hiring talent to help organizations achieve their potential is actually an “art” as well as a “science” then there will always be a valued place for them in partnership with internal HR, especially if (while improving the answers to the 5 questions above) they are able to:

  • Uncover otherwise hidden talent, through human touch, experience and industry connections
  • Better qualify that talent, through highly developed expertise in assessing education, experience and corporate cultural “fit”
  • Actually get the desired candidate to accept a job offer, through negotiation skills, impartiality and a clear understanding of the motives of the candidate.

To use a sailing analogy, if you are trying to get anywhere in a boat – especially in rough conditions, your crew matters – a lot. Maybe the best approach is to use technology to assist in human insight and decision making – not replace it.