Talent war? It’s time to banish this cliché

If you pay attention to some commentators on recruiting and human capital management, we’re at war.  No, I don’t mean the one in Afghanistan, or even the one against terror. I mean the War for Talent.

Is there anyone out there who, with me, sees this metaphor as tired and tastelessly inaccurate in today’s world, not to mention downright silly and macho-pretentious? What does it say about us that we have continued to invoke it so mechanically and reflexively for more than a decade, after all that’s happened to us as a nation and a world culture?

Back in the heady days of the start-up boom, it was once a clever, seriocomic outrider of dot.com expansionism. But it’s time to move on. Of course companies and organizations are engaged in competition with each other—competition for market share, for a share of our attention, and even for talent. But let’s not confuse healthy competition with aggressive conflict. Would you endorse this rough-and-tumble strain if it were to spread inside your organizational culture?

The War for Talent?  Say it and listen to yourself. Don’t you sound like a character on Mad Men? Let’s allow this blow-hard, self-aggrandizing bromide to fade into business history, like the dictaphone.

Views: 304

Comment by Marc Rodriguez on February 17, 2011 at 12:38pm
Talent War a cliche ? Yes. Constant posts about Talent War, regardless of the msg, only slightly less so.
Comment by Jim Hammock on February 17, 2011 at 2:20pm


That is such dribble.  Don't you have better things to do than to police terminology.  Next you will be trying to stop competition.  You are clearly a head in the clouds "can't we just get along" whimp.  Fighting for talent is a must for business success just as it is for protecting freedom and liberty.  Those who don't get it either lose out or ride on the coattails of others who do.  My guess is you are the latter.


Either get better things to do or quit clogging the blogspace.


Jim in the Real World

Comment by Mat von Kroeker on February 17, 2011 at 3:02pm
I vote for "Talent Scuffle".
Comment by Barbara Goldman on February 17, 2011 at 3:18pm
I never knew we were in a war, seems more like a wrestling match.
Comment by Paul Basile on February 17, 2011 at 6:41pm
Who cares? The idea is to identify the right talent for the right job and we are, collectively, terrible at that.  I really don't care if it's a war or skirmish or love-fest.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 17, 2011 at 6:42pm
If you think that's bad try this.  We have evolved from "problems" becoming "issues".  the lastest jargon is "issues' are no longer "issues" or "problems" now folks have a business model or a client "situation".  Too much Jersey Shore mythinks.  gONG sHOW!
Comment by Richard Stephen on February 17, 2011 at 9:55pm
Talent Tickle.
Comment by John Smith on February 18, 2011 at 4:08am

@Jim in the Real World. I guess you are  a real proponent of jargon. and cliche in HR.....certainly suggested by your blog.

There are many good reasons that HR exists and is important. It is not a wartime function like the armed forces and its success and failure is not measured in human lives. Let’s not mistake human capital for human life. Move on and be less pretentious!
Comment by Richard Stephen on February 18, 2011 at 4:17am

I feel like I need to stick up for Bob. He has a kind face... I wish we could banish all office jargon. The war for talent is a bit over the top.

I feel I must stick up for the humble dictaphone though... a marverlous piece of technology!

Nice pic of the Village People too.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 18, 2011 at 10:23am
How about we quit depersonalizing people.  People are not talent, they are not human capital.  They are people.  Some are talented some are not.  Some are just good people looking for a job.  I had all the jargon and buzz words.  Why can't we just talk about people.  I mean really, would you call them the Village Talent or The Village Human Capital.  If we don't get away from all this crap we won't even be able to understand each other.  I got into a discussion with some idiot who wanted to book the value of Human Capital on the balance sheet as an asset.  Isn't that dandy.  He didn't have an answer when i suggested to him that all assets booked have to valued for depreciation so how the hell would he figured out the depreciation schedule on people.  When would they be written off the books as obsolete?  When they quit would there need to be a journal entry and for how much?  If they went out on FMLA would we need to make an adjusting entry.  Geeezus, what else can recruiters come up with to advocate that bring more value than doing our jobs and being covered up with biz speak.


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