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The Never Ending War for Talent Rages On

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US management consultancy, McKinsey, first coined the phrase ‘the war for talent’ back in 1997. Fast forward 20 years and the war rages on -- and shows absolutely no sign of stopping.

Great talent has always been important, but it’s now critical to a company’s success. Why? Because in a world dominated by information and knowledge work, assets like skill, effort, and commitment are often the difference between success and failure. But obtaining loyalty and dedication (let alone retaining it) is still incredibly difficult.

It was easier twenty years back when demand outstripped supply (when candidates were grateful for any job), but these days recruiters are tasked with sourcing talented people who are more focused, more specific, and let’s face it, a bit pickier, about where and how they want to work. The days when the right candidate could be found by looking at a CV are long gone, so employers need to look beyond traditional differentiating factors when recruiting. Education and experience are still valuable, but so are attitude, aptitude, and cultural fit.

But how the heck do you locate and entice brilliantly-talented, culturally-appropriate, flawlessly-dedicated super candidates?

Brand your business In the same way that a consumer brand attracts customers, an employer brand helps companies sell themselves to potential employees. It’s a case of showing candidates the great things your business has to offer: the right environment, development opportunities, a commitment to CSR -- among other things.

It’s not as simple as flogging a benefits package; it’s about telling your company’s story; illustrating how employees thrive, and how your target candidates could too.

Keep your eyes peeled

The reality is that talented candidates aren’t looking for you; so you’ve got to keep an eye out for them. Using social networks to establish relationships is key. But it’s not just about sending out a tweet and hoping for the best. There are all sorts of back-end tools you can use to find the right kind of people. For example, you can build a candidate profile based on current employees, and match them to Facebook accounts. You can then create a target list and create a bespoke ad aimed at getting their attention. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Grow your own - Don’t ignore the people you already have. There could be huge amounts of unrecognised and untapped talent within your business already. It might be disguised behind the wrong job or a lack of development opportunities, but if you see talent emerging, throw down the gauntlet, set them a challenge, and see what they’re capable of. The old saying still stands: ‘recruit for attitude and train for skill.’

Forget the war, win the battle - Looking at the bigger picture, it’s unlikely that this ‘war for talent’ will ever go away. Recruiters and hiring managers will always be searching for great people, and great people will always be in demand.

So forget the war. Focus on your own battle. Look at Apple and Google: they’ve created (much copied) work cultures that people want to be a part of. Teenagers are even choosing degrees based on what’s needed to be in with a chance of working at these places.

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