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: 270

Comment by Leah Davis on May 4, 2011 at 5:54pm

Hi Alasdair, great blog. I am sceptical of social media as most others also appear to be. But i would like to answer one part of your question about "global talent pools", do they really exist and do they really matter to anyone? This is the exact area we work in and I can confirm that yes they exist and the do really matter (to the employer and recruiter). As to whether you will find them on social media sites I truly dont know but we are trying to find out (like everyone else). The global pool sounds as though they may not be important to you which you can easily deduce by saying "Hey, i fill most of my vacancies anyway so i dont have a demand for someone half way around the world who will come with visa and cultural issues that i have to deal with - blah!" Easy test to apply and no point making life hard for yourself.


So how do you calculate the need, if any, for global talent. This is an equation we often apply and can usually be applied with a little research. Firstly "demand" how many engineers jobs exist in your region eg. 10,000. Secondly "supply" how many engineers live in your region eg. 9,000. Therefore employers will pay a premium for an extra 1,000 from outside the region. A simple shortcut for us is to go to the shortage occupation lists that most country immigration departments release each year.


So in summary I'd say yes they exist but the global talent pool will not be useful to all sectors or recruiters. If you have no demand from your clients then no point wasting your time.


Comment by Ted Fitter on May 4, 2011 at 6:16pm
I'm a Ft Lauderdale based professional services sales recruiter who predominantly fills domestic positions but has also made placements in APAC and Caribbean locations. Currently developing a client with searches in Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing. Our global perspective requires a global talent pool.
Comment by Suresh on May 5, 2011 at 9:42am

Leah, good points.

Obviously with the internet growth in the last 15 years, global talent pool has become more relevant. In reality, only about 15% of Asia, Africa, South America and lot of the developing nations are online. We are going to be hearing a lot more of Global Talent Pool and corporations who operate around the world will have to leverage all of this going forward. There is about 2 billion people online and this number is only going up.


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