How do you win the war for talent?

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The rewards for employing top talent are well recognised. Extensive research confirms that high performing organisations achieve competitive advantage by having superior talent. So why can’t we simply identify the characteristics of the very best talent for our business and then recruit them?

The answer lies in today’s marketplace and how it has changed. No longer can we produce idyllic job and person specifications with affordable remuneration packages that will always result in a successful appointment.

So what has changed?

  • Unlike the classical management areas such as Finance, Operations and Marketing, Supply Chain and Logistics is relatively new. A few years ago many of the management and specialist roles we require today didn’t exist.
  • Top talent leaving education have, until recent years not recognised supply chain and logistics as areas providing them with extraordinary career prospects. Even today supply chain and logistics is not high enough on the agenda.
  • Demographics have changed massively. The pendulum has swung from a surplus of ambitious people and a shortage of good career opportunities. Previous generations would fight over good jobs with great employers. People were hungry, ambitious, hard working and willing to take risks. Competition for promotion and progression was strong. Today demand for great people has outstripped supply. Today’s generation have grown up with more disposable income, are more risk adverse and can often get more for doing less.
  • In 2008 a large proportion of ‘baby boomers’ are set to retire.
  •  The stakes are higher. Organisations are increasingly developing creative employer brands, talent acquisition strategies and retention plans. It’s now more common to see employee engagement initiatives, flexible benefits and work/life balance options.

Mission Impossible

  • Beware of mission impossible. Clearly a talent management strategy is required but in isolation it can fail. The reasons for failure can include:
  • Poorly written advertisements – often heavily weighted towards job descriptions.
  • People from earlier generations looking for mirror images of themselves.
  • Responsibilities and tasks that are wish lists.
  • Requirements for people that do not exist.
  • No account taken of attractiveness or otherwise of the employer, location or remuneration.

Attack the need not the person

A winning strategy is to identify resourcing needs and be realistic about solutions. Before embarking on a recruitment campaign:

  • Seek out advice – someone else will have tried it before.
  • Test for a realistic outcome before committing to an expensive, time consuming exercise.
  • If in doubt consider alternatives such as splitting the role, use of an interim (at least initially).
  • In your own mind, identify with the perfect candidate. Empathise with their needs not yours – think of attractions rather than descriptions.

Be realistic about short list numbers

The war talent is such that short lists will comprise of fewer candidates. Those that insist on waiting for arbitrary short list numbers are in danger of losing the best available to their competitors. Remember there is only one perfect candidate for each vacancy – grab them when you can.<p>

If you follow these basic rules and start winning some battles, then you can be triumphant in the war for talent.


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