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A War for Talent? As We Say in Brooklyn, Forgetaboutit!
Posted By Howard Adamsky On June 17, 2008 @ 1:15 am In Advice and How-Tos | 19 Comments
Do you know my friend MJ? You should, because that will almost certainly be you someday. But more on that depressing reality later.
Let’s start with MJ’s reality first. He is 45, brilliant, accomplished, and well-spoken. He is politically savvy, knows the right things to say in all situations, and even looks the role of a corporate executive. (Truth be told, he is almost as strikingly handsome as I am.)
He is technically up to date, communicates well, and has all of the requisite educational credentials. There is only one small problem. He can’t get a job.
To quote Ron Jenkins , “Something is wrong here; something is terribly wrong.”
If there is a war for talent, why can’t a highly skilled, amazingly talented overachiever who lives in a major metropolitan area find a job after one year of searching?
What expectations, position profile, ATS, political ramifications, compensation structure, communication protocol, workforce planning initiative, talent acquisition strategy, or lord knows what else has broken down so miserably, so totally and completely that all of the companies that are warring for talent have not hired MJ?
If the war for talent is as portrayed, companies engaged in this war should be beating each other with sticks to hire MJ. So, why can’t MJ get a job and how does it relate to this war on talent? (Please don’t tell me he needs to do more social networking or I might just have to get on a plane and slay you.)
We have heard for endless time of the war for talent. I remember the war on poverty, but we lost that one. We have a war on drugs but that seems to be a losing proposition as well.
But a war for talent? I find that to be an interesting war because there seems to be no winners, no losers, and little set out to define specific battle plans or terms and conditions for victory.
Yet we are so glib as it relates to this war and so accepting of its existence. Tell me, when will it end and how will we know it is over? When all of the organizations that want the very best talent, have the very best talent? Talent by whose standards? For how long must this condition exist? How is it measured and by whom? Is that the win? I hope not, because that is not going to happen. Not ever. Never, never, ever!
Who do you suppose is in charge of this war for talent? Please allow me to introduce the cast of characters:
We have thought leaders and futurists as our field generals (few who really agree on anything but will consult with you for a fee) and recruiters as our foot soldiers who spend most of their time “runnin and gunnin” in an attempt to find great candidates.
Tossed into the mix are those in management who sweat more than the rest of us because no matter what they do, it is never enough. The reason for this, of course, is those darn recruiters who are clearly guilty of the following:
Wait…perhaps it is time to get new recruiters to help us to win this war. But who hires new recruiters? Other recruiters? Hmmmmm.
Ok, to quote John Updike, “I have had my say,” but let me highlight one important point. MJ is not an apparition. He is a real person who has no clue as to what is going on and why he can’t land a job.
More important, I have no idea either and therein lay the problem. A war for talent perpetuates the myth that great talent will be gobbled up as fast as it hits the street. Truth be told, we don’t even wait for it to hit the street. We unearth passive candidates and try to pull them in as well.
Wait! What about “the recession?”
Are we in a recession? The government seems to think not, but for those of us with an IQ over 34 and 11 cents worth of common sense, it seems as though we are. Layoffs are either the reality or the rumor and the other signs are there as well. (Got fear?)
So tell me, what happens to the war for talent in a recession? Is there a cessation of hostilities? Less recruiting? More use of Friendster? OK, enough with the questions. Let’s look at what I see as some answers.
Is there a war for talent? Not as I see a war because you go to war to win and no organization will ever have the capability to simply turn on the faucet and get as many of the great employees they want when they want them. Quite frankly, their childlike carping as to not being able to have exactly what they want as quickly as they want it is almost embarrassing at times. (Not to mention that fact that one can’t apply a liquidity metaphor to new employees. That is creepy at best and dehumanizing at worst. They are human beings, not things.)
On the other hand, if YOU believe there is a war for talent, consider the following five ideas to ease your pain and anguish:
Is there a war for talent? Hard to say, but I think not. I do believe there is a perpetual need for talent; a supply-oriented balancing act that is in endless flux.
But a war? Only if you make it one.
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URLs in this post:
 Ron Jenkins: http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2003-11/a-2003-11-14-5-US.cfm
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