I have always had a problem with the war metaphor when talking about Talent Acquisition. War always conjures up images of destruction, dying and wounded, bombings, explosions, protests, POWs and Saving Private Ryan. War also brings with it an expectation of resolution, an end to the conflict, a peace signing.

Under talent acquisition –as – war, there are the victors and the vanquished and to quote Gore Vidal, “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”

Is this really what we want? If you listen to the way people talk about business today, you will hear terms like team building, strategic partners, customer focused, feedback, co-branding. This does not sound like war talk. And when it comes to the search for talent you hear terms like community, engagement, talent hubs, social media, life-work balance, diversity score card. Not exactly war talk either.

So, if not war, then what? Calling the search for talent a war certainly creates a sense of heightened awareness, keeps the troops on high alert, lights a fire under your hiring managers so that they are ready to do battle when the enemy attacks, helps prepare them for the fight that is always ahead. But does it create the proper mindset that will allow you to be successful in your search for talent?

In their award winning book, Co-opetition the authors Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff suggested that
combining competition and cooperation was the best way to describe how successful businesses are run today. The same concept can be applied to the search for talent. Co-opetition suggests that sometimes companies will compete for business, one will win the other will lose. Sometimes companies will co-operate (software – hardware, microchip – computer) and both companies win. In the search for talent, companies can compete for talent directly and one will win and one will lose. Or they can co-operate (company HR – RPO firm) to manage
the process and both could win.

Whether competing for talent or co-operating to acquire talent it is important for companies to constantly be reviewing and improving their competitive advantage. What you are selling the talent directly or through an outside managed partner is critical to the ultimate success of your talent acquisition process.

In a recent article in ERE Daily, Dr. John Sullivan listed a number of initiatives that companies have taken and should take in their constant search for top talent and to become more competitive in the process. This list was compiled from a recent competition for the title of Best Recruiting Organization.

Here is a list of some of the initiatives.

  • Strategic leadership — Encourage your HR and recruiting leadership team to be on the leading edge of innovation in talent management. Convince senior executives to support and fund an ever evolving array of
    initiatives by making a compelling business case routed in business impact.
  • Employer branding — Implement employer branding effort to dramatically increase the visibility of the firm. Leadership team makes a concerted effort to win awards and to be significantly more visible in the
    media. Establish a referral program to help use employees to spread the word about the firm.
  • Social media excellence — Implement a social media initiative that is on the leading edge of best practices. Have your web presence effectively communicate your company, culture, and opportunities across a Careers blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn group, You Tube Channel, Twitter, and Flickr. Provide
    multiple venues for talent to interact with recruiters, employees, and one another through social media sites and technically focused microsites.
  • Web excellence — Develop online talent communities to better target and support candidate populations.
  • Employee referral — Implement an employee referral program to focus on referee and referral service.
  • Analytics — Use metrics to measure and report on individual and team performance, including metrics that cover customer satisfaction and hiring cycle time.
  • Diversity report card — Have a strong emphasis on diversity. Use a diversity scorecard that measures and reports the diversity of the candidate slate for each position.
  • Predictive Modeling — Adapt proven “business solutions” and tools to recruiting problems. Only a handful of recruiting departments use this forward-looking planning tool. Effective predictive modeling allows both recruiting and hiring managers to proactively prepare for future staffing issues and opportunities that occur within the scope of its business development strategic plan.
  • Monetizing recruiting — in addition to the traditional metrics like recruiter workload, workforce movement, and days-to-fill, calculate lost revenue. Demonstrating revenue gains and losses in dollars as a result of talent management decisions is a critical factor in getting managers to pay attention to talent management issues.
  • Advanced trending — rather than relying exclusively on historical metrics, use “real-time hiring metrics” to identify trends in order to improve operational excellence. These real-time metrics are evaluated to
    facilitate more effective decision-making.
  • Agility to scale up — Develop a process for identifying potential recruiting problems including “aging requisitions” and “hard-to-fill” jobs. This process alerts recruiters and triggers the use of supplemental
    RPO vendors and third-party recruiters to augment recruiting capability.

If finding great talent were a war then many of these initiatives would be deemed unnecessary. Just bring up the big guns and unleash the dogs. However, when viewed as co-opetition, all of these above mentioned
initiatives become important to the continued success of your company and your ability to hire great talent. It’s co-opetition, not war. Now, back to the peace talks.

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