The War for Talent is Dead: Is Open Source the Future of HR?

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Sep 6, 2016
This article is part of a series called Wake-up Call.

For the most part, the HR and recruiting industry has historically treated our work as strictly confidential. Outside of conferences or between individual colleagues we seldom see companies actively sharing their secrets for success or lessons learned from their failures for the benefit of other companies. As the competition for talent increasingly intensifies, many companies even hide their best practices in order to fight and win the so called “war” for talent. There is a movement happening to push the industry toward a more open and collaborative approach to knowledge sharing similar to what has been seen in the tech world.

Advocates of the open source community approach to HR believe that the reality is the war for talent is over. In today’s candidate-driven job market, an increasingly digital world of open and free information, talent has won. They believe that rather than keeping the secrets to ourselves, instead we opened up our playbooks a little to inspire and learn from each other’s successes and ideas to collectively push the industry forward. They also believe it’s just the right thing to do.

Could this be the thing that pushes an industry, typically slower to evolve than others, into a new era? The reality is that many of us, if not all, don’t have the resources to be able to subscribe to every single HR publication, join all the HR associations available, or attend every single conference and event out there. Also, not everyone has the time for actively nourishing and building a large professional network and even those who do there’s always that feeling that you might be burdening them by asking for help. 

What Is Open Source?

This isn’t a new concept. The tech industry, which first dubbed the philosophy of openly sharing projects, industry knowledge, and best practices as “open source” has been doing this since the very beginning. The open source model of code sharing and collaborative improvement through digital communities has virtually been around for as long as software development has existed. Software developers contribute to the open source community by writing and sharing their code or projects with other programmers, allowing them to modify and contribute their work back to the community.

This collaborative development process has accelerated technological advancement and innovation like never before, and has made a profound impact on many of the software and technologies we use today. The modern web noticeably being one of them. This mantra is spreading into the world of HR and recruiting.

One example is HR Open Source. Inspired by the tech community’s sharing and collaborative ethos, Amplify Talent’s Lars Schmidt and Duo Security’s Ambrosia Vertesi (formerly Hootsuite) wanted to bring this same approach to HR, and the HR Open Source initiative was born.

HROS is a movement that aims to bring HR communities around the world together and provide a global platform where companies can openly share their play books and learn industry best practices from their peers.

The initiative is committed to showcasing tangible resources to inform, educate, and inspire the work of HR and people practitioners, through detailed case studies that highlight not only what, why, and how companies have executed a certain HR initiative, but also their key results, failures, and lessons learned the HROS community can take away from their work. There have already been several great case studies released, many focused on recruiting, employer branding, and talent acquisition programs.

Another example is, which is devoted specifically to the growing niche of recruitment marketing and employer branding. This brand new community which includes a chat community based on Slack, a Facebook group, and monthly Twitter chats using the hashtag #EBChat, was founded by myself and Bryan Chaney, head of employer branding at Indeed.

The mission of is provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, experiences, opportunities, and knowledge sharing around the tactics and strategy of talent attraction. Through monthly member meetings, Twitter chats, and the TalentBrand Chat Community on Slack, employer branding professionals across every industry come together to share next practices, trends, job openings (#EBJobs), technologies, and vendor recommendations.

In addition to these more formalized efforts there have been a plethora of Facebook groups created by recruiters to share information and best practices that are attaining some major following. Groups like Recruiters Online, Secret Sourcing Group, SourceCon are among some of the most active I’ve participated in.

What Does This Mean for Recruiting?

The field of recruiting has undergone significant transformation in the last few years. Social media, consumer expectations and new technologies are changing how we attract, engage, recruit and retain talent today.

Companies who fully take advantage of their digital capabilities are seeing immense opportunities to innovate and transform their recruiting strategy and practices. Those companies who are unable to keep pace with these technological advancements, however, are finding themselves falling behind their leading counterparts.

Perhaps with these collaborative open source inspired initiatives, we have an opportunity to close the growing gap between leading and laggard companies. By sharing and democratizing access to leading-edge HR and recruiting best practices, tips and ideas, we can transform our profession and our field to become more strategic, innovative, and successful.

We don’t need to be overly competitive to succeed in our industry. We can help each other by opening up our HR playbooks, share best practices, inspire, learn and empower one another to succeed.

I’m super excited to share that I will be moderating a panel discussion on this very topic with HROS co-founders Ambrosia Vertesi and Lars Schmidt as well as GoDaddy VP of Global Talent Acquisition Andrew Carges at the ERE Recruiting Conference this October in New Orleans.

If you’re attending the conference, join us to learn from these leaders why they feel the future of recruiting and HR is open source collaboration as well as more about how you can get involved. If you’d like to attend but haven’t yet registered, you can do so here. See you in New Orleans!

This article is part of a series called Wake-up Call.