Enough of this global talent pool talk already!

Not a single day passes by of late without hearing the dreaded words 'global talent pool', but what does that phrase actually mean in practice, if anything at all?

Consider a typical recruiting scenario. You're looking for a mid-career engineer for a specific location. There is no relocation package on offer so straight away it would be fair to assume that 99 times out of a hundred your likely candidate is going to come from a 30 or 40 mile radius of wherever the business is situated. Not from Bolivia, or Singapore, or Outer Mongolia, but from the same state/county that the business has offices in. It would also be safe to assume that within that radius, which has straightaway made the vast majority of your 'talent pool' irrelevant, only a percentage of geographically qualified Engineers would be active on social networks. And, even if they were, would they be going there to reveal everything about their career/wanting to wax lyrical about engineering all day? No. They are far more likely to be connecting with family and friends and talking about fishing trips or what they saw on tv last night or posting up a video about a cat singing to the national anthem.

So why oh why do people keep going on about having a global talent pool? Boasting about having 400 million people in your pool is of no tangible benefit to the business in one location where 399,999,995 people can't possibly commute to or are unqualified for. And what about the remaining five? Sure they may live in the immediate area, but what are the chances they will have the profile, skills and experience you are looking for? The percentages, given social network usage as a total of the population is relatively small, are tiny, thus the likelihood remote.

I'm sorry, but I remain sceptical about how these talent pools (there it goes again) can be anything more than a mish mash of people from all walks of life, of all ages, all of who use social networks for different reasons, with recruitment being probably low on the list of those reasons. And even if you do by chance find one or two people who roughly meet your criteria, what about the ones you're missing out on? The majority of career minded people who don't spend their days waffling on Facebook or wherever?

Recruitment to me is about targetting. It's about going where the biggest numbers of the type of person you're after inhabit. There may well be a top notch Engineer on a social network who lives in Korea but that's no good to you if you're in Idaho, hence the word 'global' is redundant. It's actually a small pool of local social network users who may possibly have what you're looking for, but likely won't.

Please someone tell me I am not going mad. The numbers don't add up once the wow factor wears off and you start thinking about how many of these million upon million of people out there are actually relevant to you, the recruiter, and what numbers social networks actually reach in terms of the percentage of all engineers in a certain location with XYZ skills when compared to a job board.

In short, it just doesn't add up to me, but I am prepared to be enlightened.

Views: 274

Comment by Jerry Albright on May 3, 2011 at 1:43pm

Great read Mr. Murray.  You and I share membership in the (very tiny) group of International Nay Sayers.  This blog secures your membership for at least the next few years!


Can't quite put my finger on it - but at some point a year or so ago I realized just how very little "my" world had to do with the larger "global recruitment" world.  So little in fact I can pinpoint the impact the whole "global" thing has had on my desk:  none.


Keep up the good work!

Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 3, 2011 at 1:50pm
LOL Hi Jerry. Funnily enough when I randomly plucjed the job title 'Engineer' out of the ether I thought of you and how you'd probably appreciate this offering. I swear some are trying to make recruitment more complicated than it need be. Channels already exist and social networks like FB and Twitter are just a hotchpotch of people, many of whom don't even fill out a proper profile. Why try and glean information from something that wasn't even designed for recruitment purposes in the first place? (I'm thinking The SocialCV here. Their reasoning is they have a talent pool of a million which has been built by aggregating info off 50 social networks. But what sort of info? Not the sort that you;d benefit from Jerry I'll wager!)
Comment by Jerry Albright on May 3, 2011 at 2:37pm
Though I'm frequently one to jump on the "that sucks" bandwagon - I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of an all-in-one placement button.  I would pay a bunch for it and use it often....
Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 3, 2011 at 5:20pm

I love this post.  A younger recruiter asked me a few months ago how in the hell we got candidates before the age of the computer and the internet.  I thought it was hilarious so asked him what he was looking for at the moment.  He said, "an engineer in Miami, Florida.  I said ok, you got a phone book?

Yup sez he.  Ok sez i, look in the yellow pages under E for engineers.  Call what appears to be the largest consulting engineering firm in the city.  Tell the receptionist that you would like to speak with one of their engineers who is active in a professional engineering group in the city.  Then take the next name listed in the yellow pages under engineers and call him.  Damn sez my tech savy young friend, that's kind of easy.  Yeppers sez I and ya don't have to be their friend or like their goofy blog.  Just make a business call.  What a shock!


The world's largest specific to geography talent pool is easily located in the yellow pages.  It works for almost all types of positions.  Amazing, not as sexy as dithering on in 140 characters about nothing, building profiles and posting in groups who don't live within 5000 miles.  The shortest distance between two points is still a straight line.  You might even pick up a new client along the way if your BS is reasonable.  Having contacted someone then you can do all the sexy connecting and friending and blah, blah, blah that warms the cockles of your little techie heart.  :)  and with the advances in technology the yellow pages of every city in the world is available right there on your dumb phone.  It was nice to get rid of that room full of phone books.  The internet cut down the amount of floor space that used to be used for phone books.

Comment by Suresh on May 3, 2011 at 6:06pm

Interesting read..

We are still in the honeymoon period in many of these "New Media", lets see what sticks in 5 years.



Comment by Dick Smith on May 4, 2011 at 10:40am
On point Mr. Murray. Good for you, expressing the obvious.
Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 4, 2011 at 12:28pm
Thanks for the comments. My point is, who can say this pool of people who happen to be on social networks are all talented? What about the 'sitting here in my underpants eating ice cream straight from the tub and looking at porn pool' or the 'I am only interested in talking to my friends and family on here thank you' pool? The mere fact anyone has a social media profile does not make them a relevant candidate straight off the bat. Many people don't even go into their employment details on social networks so how many potential candidates are you actually missing by relying on such a hit and miss method of attraction? Yes, there will be some candidates out there, but what percentage of the total population rather than the social population are you reaching by relying on a trawl through the minutiae of people's Facebook accounts etc.? It all seems so unnecessary. I think we're making recruitment more complicated than it need be and the early adopters of social media are hell bent on convincing the rest of us that social is the way. Maybe when more or less 100% of the workforce age population are on there, but not until then, for me at least.
Comment by Paul Alfred on May 4, 2011 at 12:36pm
2004 - 2011 is a pretty long honeymoon ...  Dr. Raghavan ...  Technology is dynamic it's always moving. Outside of true Headhunting skills - Some of us like my friend Alasdair would prefer we work in slow motion.   The real question is why are large companies investing millions in Social Media Networks and how to harness all the power they provide to source Talent ... The MBA's who run these firms must perhaps not live in the real world that Alasdair describes.  The Venture Cap folks hovering around LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook to take them IPO are not doing this to count pennies they see value and it starts with a $B ....  Think about it for a minute ... Opps your time is up ...
Comment by Alasdair Murray on May 4, 2011 at 12:44pm
The fact is though Paul, the big companies can by and large attract people without doing very much at all. They don;t need social media so much as enough people to manage the volumes of unsolicited applications and enquiries they receive each year. People,rightly or deludedly, aspire to work for a name they know and trust, yet all this talk of social media being where it's at for recruitment is of no comfort or benefit to SME businesses. Yes, people wow when they go to a conference and hear about Virgin's response levels via social media but one size doesn't fit all. The technology giants and household names will never struggle for response, but anyone below that bar using social media shouldn't fool themselves that this is some holy grail. It really isn't.
Comment by Suresh on May 4, 2011 at 12:58pm

Paul, this new media has definitely brought about  a lot of good (facebook helped what happened in Egypt etc) and internet in general opening up information to the whole world.

I am skeptical to how it impacts Recruiters, who are mostly locally focussed.


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