THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

January 8, 2009   view past issues

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Feature: Talent is a Fad

The editors of Harvard Business Review recently defined a fad as a term that has become so broadly used as to be almost meaningless. While we think of fads as a social phenomenon, we’ve all heard (and maybe used) such terms in the workplace. These bon mots of the business world include “value proposition,” “employer of choice” and “doing more with less.” For recruiters, however, I think the most prevalent fad in our profession is the also the least recognized. It’s the term “talent” as in that mighty phrase “The War for Talent.”

What makes talent a fad? Consider the following definitions that are attached to the term by various recruiters, hiring managers, pundits and HR executives:

  • Talent is someone who can do a job.
  • Talent is someone who is an “A” level performer on-the-job.
  • Talent is someone whose qualifications satisfy or exceed the requirements specified for a job.
  • Talent is someone whose performance meets or exceeds the responsibilities specified for a job.
  • Talent is whatever the hiring manager says it is.
  • There are almost certainly a dozen or more other possible definitions of the term, all of which make the point: talent has become a term that is so broadly used (and interpreted) as to be almost meaningless. In short, talent is a fad.

    Should We Care?

    Does the fact that talent is a fad mean we should abandon the term? Does its decline into that sad state mean that we should no longer be in the business of talent acquisition? Of course not. Recognizing talent as a fad doesn’t alter our mission as recruiters. It doesn’t change the substance of what we do, but it should give us pause. Why is that? Because fads are not always benign.

    Fads, in fact, can be very disruptive. Business fads, in particular, are used so frequently and in so many different contexts by so many different people with so many different agendas that they lose the ability to convey any definitive information. They become ambiguous. And that lack of clarity and precision, in turn, leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding in the workplace.

    In our case, when there is no clear and universally accepted definition of talent within an organization, we recruiters are set up to be chumps. We think we are sourcing the kind of individuals our employers or clients will value, but we may be wrong or, worse, we may be right, but have the rules changed on us after the fact so we are made to look wrong. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever identified the perfect candidate for some hiring manager’s vacancy based on what’s stated in the requisition, only to have the hiring manager then tell you that the candidate is totally off the mark. That’s the perniciousness of a fad at work.

    So, What Should You Do?

    I recommend that you start out 2009 with a definitional exercise. Pull together a meeting of the recruiting team and at least the key thought leaders among the line managers in your organization and hammer out what talent means in your culture. Transform the term from a fad to a standard.

    Achieving that objective will, in all likelihood, take more than a little patience, diplomacy and determination, but it is possible. At the outset, there will probably be a wide array of different views and even some grandstanding among those in the meeting. It’s important, however, to let that happen as everyone needs to feel as though they’ve had their say.

    Then, point out the dysfunctional aspects of competing definitions. When what talent means is ambiguous in an organization, it takes longer and costs more to fill its openings. Worse, it increases the likelihood of a person-job mismatch and thus threatens the ability of line managers to accomplish their goals.

    Finally, move the group toward consensus. Push them to develop a document that establishes a standard for talent in your organization. That document should:

  • provide a business rationale for the standard. For example, the purpose of setting a common definition for talent is to reduce inefficiencies and therefore costs in recruiting and to improve the quality of new hires and thus their performance on-the-job.
  • present a precise definition of talent that is culturally appropriate. For example, talent in this organization is defined to be those individuals who meet no less than 90% of the candidate requirements specified for an opening in a formal requisition approved by a hiring manager.
  • be widely distributed and consistently enforced. For example, the document can be included in manager’s handbooks and training curricula and its contents serve as the basis for measuring their satisfaction with recruiting outcomes.
  • We all think we know what talent is and, for that reason, it’s sometimes hard to believe that others may have a different view of the term. Because talent is a fad, however, such differences of opinion are not only possible; they’re probable. The resulting ambiguity undermines our ability to do our jobs well and to be recognized when we have. So, use the start of a new year to protect yourself and set yourself up for success: transform talent from a meaningless fad to a powerful standard in your organization.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. Start the Year Off on the Right Note … Tell a Friend About WEDDLE’s Newsletter.


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Work Strong

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System, Peter Weddle’s new book on how, when, where and with whom you can achieve career success in the 21st Century.

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    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    WEDDLE’s Research, a division of WEDDLE’s LLC, released a preliminary data set from its upcoming 2009 Recruiting Excellence Survey which will be published in January 2009. (For pricing and to order the report, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768.) This one-of-a-kind report examines both sides of the job market; it explores which strategies and tactics recruiters prefer and what job seekers are doing to find a new or better job. Today’s environment, in particular, creates a number of potential pitfalls for recruiters. With so many applicants flooding into our organizations, it would be easy to let bad habits creep into our day-to-day operations. So, we asked job seekers What is the single worst thing that has happened to you in a job search?. Here’s what they told us:

  • #1: They submitted a resume and heard nothing back from the employer (45.4%);
  • #2: They received no information or feedback from the employer once they entered its recruiting process (23.7%);
  • #3: They had no serous negative experiences (18.8%);
  • #4: The hiring manager or recruiter who interviewed them was poorly prepared (6.9%); and
  • #5: The hiring manager, recruiter or an employee was rude or hostile to them during the process (5.2%).
  • How can almost one-in-two applicants feel ignored when most of the recruiters I speak with affirm that they use the auto-responder in their ATS to acknowledge every resume? I think there are at least two factors at work here:

  • First, the notice from the ATS gets caught in the applicant’s spam filter. What should you do? Include a notice in all job postings asking the applicant to add the URL for your ATS message to their white list.
  • Second, the message is so bureaucratic or stilted as to be uninformative. What should you do? Recognize that this message is a part of your employment branding and make sure it (a) confirms receipt of the applicant’s resume, (b) thanks them for their submission, and (c) tells them what will happen next in your recruiting process.
  • Are you looking for an inspirational and informative speaker for an upcoming corporate meeting? Consider WEDDLE’s publisher and CEO, Peter Weddle. One of the most highly rated speakers at recruiting conferences, association conventions and company retreats, he offers a unique combination of storytelling and wisdom that is sure to motivate and educate your audience. Whether it’s a gathering of your recruiting team, the entire HR Department, your sales force or line managers, Peter will leave every participant better prepared for the challenges of 2009 and fired up about meeting them. For more information, please call Peter directly at 203.964.1888.

    WEDDLE’s has released a powerful new tool for recruiters. Called Finding Needles in a Haystack, it’s the first comprehensive listing of keywords for successfully searching resume databases online and off. The book provides thousands of search terms and phrases for the:

  • engineering,
  • finance,
  • healthcare,
  • human resources,
  • sales & marketing,
  • technology,
  • and other fields.
  • If you’re not getting the yield you need from job board resume databases, data mining or even your own resume management system, this is the reference book for you. In fact, sourcing guru Shally Steckerl described this book as “A rare and uniquely useful reference guide for recruiters!” It doesn’t get any better than that! To order your copy, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Get Finding Needles in a Haystack today!

    WEDDLE’s is offering a range of services to help you build your employment brand, develop relationships with top talent and maintain your professional edge. They include:

    To Build Your Employment Brand & Develop Relationships with Top Talent

  • Peter Weddle’s Blog-Sponsoring this unique job market commentary that launches in January, 2009
  • WEDDLE’s Newsletter for Job Seekers and Career Activists-Sponsoring this widely read online publication
  • WEDDLE’s Content Syndication Program-Syndicating Peter Weddle’s career content for your corporate career site
  • WEDDLE’s User’s Choice Awards-Sponsoring the premier awards in the online employment services field
  • To Maintain Your Professional Edge

    WEDDLE’s Private Training Programs-Attending these courses in the privacy of your own facility

  • WEDDLE’s Public Training Programs-Attending these courses in the comfort of your own office
  • WEDDLE’s Syndicated Research Program-Acquiring the information and insights that will give you a competitive advantage
  • For more information, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768. We’ll partner with you to help you and your organization achieve your goals and the success you seek in 2009.

    WEDDLE’s also offers a number of other publications for recruiters seeking to win the War for the Best Talent and achieve a satisfying and rewarding career. They include:

  • Recognizing Richard Rabbit. An adult fable like Who Moved My Cheese?, this delightful little book will teach you how to discover your authentic self-the You of your dreams-so that you can express and experience that person in your work and throughout your career.
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Called the “Zagat of the online employment industry” by the American Staffing Association, it provides full-page profiles of 350 of the best job boards in a range of occupations, industries and locations.
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Directory of Employment Related Internet Sites. The “address book of the online employment industry,” it lists over 9,000 sites and organizes them by the occupational fields, industries and geographies on which they focus.
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Association Web Sites. The key to the “hidden talent market” online, it details the recruiting resources and capabilities that are provided at the Web-sites of over 1,900 associations and societies.
  • Postcards from Space: Being the Best in Online Recruitment & HR Management. A compilation of Peter Weddle’s columns for The Wall Street Journal, it provides a complete introduction to the Best Practices for sourcing, recruiting and retaining talent online.
  • Generalship: HR Leadership in a Time of War. The only primer on leadership that focuses on the unique challenges of the HR professional waging both a War for Relevancy in the modern corporation and a War for Talent in the 21st Century labor market.
  • So make sure you’re at the top of your game, get your WEDDLE’s books today. Click here or call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories

    There are 40,000 job boards now in operation in North America and an equal number operating elsewhere around the world. The key to recruiting top talent online, therefore, is knowing where to find and how to select the best sites for each of your requirements. WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide identifies 350 of the top sites worldwide and provides the information you need to determine which job boards will deliver the optimum yield for you. For example:

    CollegeRecruiter.com

    http://www.collegerecruiter.com

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes-All

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Fee to post a job: $125/posting

    Posting period: 60 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: No

    Number of resumes: N/A

    Source of resumes: N/A

    Top occupations among visitors: Engineering, Sales & Marketing, Information Systems

    Other services for employers: Automated resume agent, Banner advertising, Status reports

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes


    Get Work Strong Today!

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System, Peter Weddle’s new book on how, when, where and with whom you can achieve career success in the 21st Century.

    Work Strong is a career book with muscle and soul.

    Designed specifically for the challenging workplace of the 21st Century:

    This book not only tells you what to do for career success, but when, where and how to do it.

    Career Fitness includes both a revolutionary philosophy of work and a regimen of daily, weekly and monthly activities that empower you to apply that philosophy to your career.

    Using physical fitness as a metaphor, it introduces an approach to career self-management that is appropriate for everyone from senior executives and seasoned professionals to recent graduates and those who are reentering the workforce after an extended absence.

    This book helps you tap both sides of your brain in learning how to build a healthy career.

    It encourages you to use your reasoning ability on the left side of your brain by presenting all of the information you need to Work Strong in your career. That’s The Career Fitness System.

    It also encourages you to use your creative ability on the right side of your brain by presenting a fictional account of what it would be like to Work Strong. That’s The Diary of a Career Activist.

    In today’s world of work, you have only two choices: you can be the master of your career or you can be its victim. Get the tools you need to take charge of the one-third or more of your life you spend at work. Get Work Strong today! You’ll increase the paycheck and the satisfaction you bring home from work!

    But don’t forget about others. Get Work Strong for yourself and for your spouse, your sons or daughters and even for your mother and father. Everyone deserves to Work Strong. To place your order, call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Don’t delay. Get Work Strong right away!