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Becoming a Talent Hero

Larry Clifton
Dec 8, 2010, 5:28 am ET

For those who attended my session at the ERE Fall Expo, you heard first-hand about CACI’s Predictive Staffing Model and were the recipient of a “secret recipe” which when prepared correctly will make you a “talent hero” at your company. CACI’s Predictive Staffing Model is a proactive, forward-looking talent approach driven by this secret recipe which was concocted in the hollows of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia, which I’m proud to say is my home state. The secret recipe for your success is simple and has three key ingredients:

  • First and foremost to be a talent hero you must always think like a business person in everything you do. ROI is the ultimate secret to your success. Your CEO will be absolutely thrilled when you start speaking business instead of HR and then back it up with fact-based metrics instead of generalalites and emotions.
  • Second, and just as important, you have to be an innovator. A wise man from West Virginia once said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” That’s some deep wisdom, but it’s so true. Bottom line is you will never improve and become a talent hero unless you continually try new things.
  • Third, and my biggest lesson learned in doing this talent stuff, is there’s simply no one single solution/technology/thing out there that you can do/use to ensure success. To be successful and a talent hero you have to excel in all your talent areas and have them in sync working together all the time.

At CACI we work extra hard every day perfecting and executing this secret recipe which has propelled us to national leadership in the talent area. I’m totally confident you can do the same at your company by following this secret recipe, but I must tell you it takes lots of work and persistence. Remember — and yes this also comes from West Virginia — that “winners never quit and quitters never win.” Once you’ve perfected this recipe and have it cooking on high you’ll see I’m not selling you snake oil. To prove my point here are a few examples of what this secret recipe has done for CACI:

  • Ingredient #1: Everything we do in the talent area gets measured, and has a ROI;  for example, we know exactly where every hire (external or internal) comes from, how long it takes us to find them, and the cost of each hire. All our talent areas are also tied directly to CACI’s strategic and financial plans; for example, our predictive staffing model presented at ERE where we are driving our days to fill to 0 — now that’s a big hairy goal. Accountability is also vital to your success; for example, every time an open position goes unfilled longer than 25 days, the “hiring manager” and “recruiter” get to personally explain why to the President of CACI. It’s amazing how well this keeps us all focused on filling positions.
  • Ingredient #2: At CACI we constantly try new ideas, technology, and reinvent all the traditional ways of doing things in our talent areas. We look for talent where others may not. We hire lots of disabled veterans, which are a gold mine of talent for those of you who have not looked there. We also revolutionized college recruiting. We simply run an in-house invitational job fair focused on college grads and market it in college newspapers and social media. A great example of our job-fair success was when we marketed three unique skill sets (developers, finance types, and analysts), received 500 applicants, interviewed 140, and hired 80 new college grads all within 60 days for less than $400 per hire. Another incredible innovation: we hire the superstar college students — e.g., 4.0 GPA during their “junior” year — taking them off the market before competitors get to them. I must admit almost everyone in the college hiring business squirms big time when I share my crazy innovations, but they really do work and are just a smarter productive way of doing business. Additionally we have our interns work year ’round so they can so earn more money for college and take on bigger projects for us. Lastly, we advanced our already highly successful alumni hiring program by paying our alumni the same referral bonus we pay our employees when they recommend candidates we hire. Our alumni know our business and culture well, so they often provide us perfect fits.
  • Ingredient #3: This last ingredient is the hardest one since it contains all the moving parts in our talent area, from technology to process improvement. We constantly focus on connecting all the talent dots so they perfectly fit into our predictive staffing model, which ensures we produce results and not excuses.

Producing results is what it’s all about and why we come to work at CACI. I will assure you this secret recipe will produce results for you and you will become that talent hero at your company as soon as you get it boiling.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Tweets that mention Becoming a Talent Hero - --

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TalentNet Live, Acente Solutions. Acente Solutions said: Becoming a Talent Hero: For those who attended my session at the ERE Fall Expo, you heard first-hand about C… #HR [...]

  2. Ken Forrester

    One overlooked aspect of social media is immediate feedback. Respectfully this reads like something directly from a corporate website. And you know what they say about some corporate websites.

  3. Keith Halperin


    Is this your company?:

    Abu Ghraib controversy

    In 2004, the company was linked to the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse along with another US Government contractor, Titan Corp. (now owned by L-3 Communications). CACI employees Joe Ryan and Steven Stephanowicz were investigated in the Taguba inquiry. The Department of the Army found that “contractors were involved in 36 percent of the [Abu Ghraib] proven incidents” and identified 6 employees as “individually culpable”,[4] although none have faced prosecution, unlike DoD servicemen.[4]
    According to an early Army report, a CACI interrogator, “[m]ade a false statement to the investigation team regarding the locations of his interrogations, the activities during his interrogations, and his knowledge of abuses”. Further, investigators found the CACI interrogator encouraged Military Policemen to terrorize inmates, and “clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse”.[5]

    [edit]CACI response
    According to CACI’s website, “the company provided a range of Information Technology (IT) and intelligence services in Iraq. These services included intelligence analysis, background investigations, screenings, interrogation, property management and record keeping, and installation of computer systems, software and hardware. Only a small portion of these employees worked as interrogators.” The company states that “no CACI employee or former employee has been indicted for any misconduct in connection with this work, and no CACI employee or former employee appears in any of the photos released from Abu Ghraib”. CACI also adds that they “are no longer providing interrogation services in Iraq,” which concluded in the early fall of 2005 upon the conclusion of a contract with the Department of the Army.
    CACI also adds “nonetheless, we do not condone, tolerate or endorse any illegal behavior by our employees in any circumstance or at any time. We will act forcefully if the evidence shows that any of our employees acted improperly, but we will not rush to judgment on the basis of speculation, innuendo, partial reports or incomplete investigations.”
    CACI also claims on their website that US Government reports generally “concluded that civilian interrogators performed their duties in an appropriate fashion and made a major contribution to the US mission in Iraq.” CACI further claims a March 2005 report by US Navy Inspector General and Vice Admiral Albert T. Church shows that despite the publicity surrounding Abu Ghraib, “we found very few instances of abuse involving contractors.” It remains interesting that CACI investigated CACI, and (unsurprisingly) found that CACI had done no wrong.[6]

    [edit]Radio show comments result in a lawsuit
    On August 26, 2005, Randi Rhodes, a host for the Air America talk radio program, claimed that employees of CACI International had raped and murdered Iraqi civilians at the Abu Ghraib prison. CACI sued Air America and its parent company, Piquant LLC, for allegedly making “false and defamatory” charges. CACI sought $1M in compensatory damages and $10M in punitive damages. The claim was dismissed by a US District Court judge on September 21, 2006.[7] CACI is pursuing an appeal, having received permission to do so from a bankruptcy court (which lifted the automatic stay that resulted when Air America filed for bankruptcy protection).[8]

    [edit]May 2008 abuse lawsuit
    In May 2008, four former Abu Ghraib prison inmates, who were all released without charge, brought separate lawsuits in four US courts against CACI and L-3 Communications as well as against three civilians. One of these former inmates, Emad al-Janabi, sued L-3 and CACI for allowing their employees to abuse him physically and mentally at the prison.[9] In a statement released on their website[10] CACI has stated that these lawsuits are baseless and they reject emphatically this latest plaintiff’s allegations and claims calling on numerous and thorough government investigations in these allegations.
    On March 19, 2009, US District Judge Gerald Bruce rejected claims by CACI that it could not be sued because its interogators were performing duties proscribed by the contract with the US government. CACI responded that it vowed to “pursue all of its legal alternatives to defend itself and vindicate the company’s good name” and that “From day one, CACI has rejected the outrageous allegations against the company in this lawsuit and continues to do so.” [11]

    -Keith Halperin

  4. Heather Huhman

    Hi Larry,

    Great post. And yes, the “CEO will be absolutely thrilled when you start speaking business instead of HR.”

    I suggest trying a social talent community (like Cachinko) to sync social media efforts, if you want to try new technology. They help you broadcast job posts to search engines, social media sites and etc. to ensure success –keeps you from focusing on one solution (like LinkedIn) alone.

    In regards to ROI, you have access to metrics and analytics reporting instead of counts of engagement. Check it out and let me know what you think.

  5. Injecting Youth Into Construction Jobs | Bird Dog Candidate Acquisition & Management System

    [...] a recent piece on, Larry Clifton lists attracting young talent as one of his key ingredients to becoming a “talent hero”: “We also revolutionized college recruiting. We [...]

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