The War for Talent and Why You’re Losing...

By Solutions Driven

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The War for Talent

The War for Talent is a reality once more. Companies are being forced to work ever harder to secure the talent they need – and find themselves facing ever greater competition to do so. The question to ask yourself is therefore what is your company going to do differently to your competitors to ensure that your results are markedly better than the average in your industry?

You’ve heard it before – the “Definition of Insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results”. Yes I know Albert Einstein never actually said this and that it’s also a wholly inaccurate dictionary definition of the word. However the principle is sound when applied to common business problems – and recruiting is no exception. Which brings us to the question - why do the majority of professionals involved in talent acquisition persist with the much maligned broken recruitment model and expect it to deliver results any different to what it’s delivered previously?

Facing Up To The Talent Crisis

There is a talent crisis out there in almost every developed country – and this is particularly true across engineering and technology roles. So isn’t it surprising that HR departments still feel the best way of finding this rare talent is through a procurement led cost-cutting exercise? What is it about recruiters willing to work for the lowest rates and on a no win / no fee basis that makes them the most likely to bring you the spoils in the War for Talent? Desperation is probably the only answer that has any merit – and does your company really want to be represented by a recruiter who is desperate and will take whatever shortcuts are necessary to secure a fee?

I read a blog post recently by Julia Briggs pointing out this lunacy:

“And we give it away to agencies, on a PSL decided by procurement (perhaps an RPO in between) with the estate agent model of no win no fee.  One of the better agencies has seen their conversion rate go from 1 placement for 2.5 shortlists to a 1:10 ratio, with the rise of the RPO. How focused on quality shortlists are they with 30 candidates to find, motivate and keep warm for just one fee?”

Please indulge me and read that statistic again. A 1:10 ratio – is that the best way for a partner supplier to be representing your business in a hiring marketplace that is suffering from a severe shortage of talent? Where your business is competing against the most interesting corporates (e.g. Rolls Royce, Google), or the coolest SME’s with sleep pods, Friday pool parties and a bring-your-pet-to-work policy?

Can you imagine your company CEO requisitioning a new software system and then asking IBM, CapGemini and Microsoft to carry out the work and subsequently decide which one to pay? What quality of output would you expect to receive back – and yet this is how many businesses try to attract their people? (so “People are our most important asset” and yet we’re trying to recruit them like it’s 1989.)

Give Recruiters Ownership of the Problem

Under the current model you have say 4 recruitment suppliers racing each other to be the first to provide a poorly-qualified candidate profile. While this approach may work with the easiest to fill roles, it doesn’t solve those challenging roles – you know, the ones where the Operations Director is breathing down your neck for results. There is simply no accountability or motivation for the supplier to work on the hardest requirements. Ask yourself - would you if your job relied on you filling a high enough proportion of the 8-10 positions that you’re juggling at any one time?

This approach also leads to poor candidate engagement as there is no time to meet face to face or to build your employer brand with the market – as some other company might just ping in their CV to your ATS system first. And yet of course it’s the recruitment supplier who is castigated for poor process and candidate engagement, rather than the employer who has incentivised recruiters to work in this manner. The rub is though that the candidate doesn’t differentiate between the two. If they’ve been poorly treated whilst trying to secure a job with your company, that reflects badly on you irrespective of whether the experience was dealing with you directly or with those you’ve engaged to work with candidates on your behalf.

Why Not Do Things Differently?

As the market heats up, your company needs to be achieving better results than the competition. But if you want to get better results than your competition, you clearly need to be doing things differently to your competition. Otherwise you’re trapped in that definition of insanity - doing the same things but expecting different results. So if this broken model is prevalent in your industry, how about breaking with the mould and implementing a new way of working with your recruiting suppliers that brings better results?

Why not give exclusivity and ownership for a number of roles to each supplier? “You have these 3 roles exclusively for 2-3 weeks but we expect you to deliver good shortlists for each.”

Make your supplier accountable but also help them to work smart. If a recruiter has this leeway it allows them to properly search the marketplace (over 70% of respondents say they would consider a new job opportunity if pitched the right way, even though they were happy in their current role). Attract the A-Players and find the candidates not directly looking for a new role, all those sitting gathering dust on an agency database. Give yourself the best chance of gaining an advantage over your competition.

Instead of getting the same names regurgitated by your recruiting partners on each search (the “low hanging fruit”), allow them the time needed to source and headhunt in the market for the exact skills and personality profile you require. Demand that shortlists come with full interview notes, psychometric profiles and even digital interview snippets.

Stop leading the race to the bottom, let’s change and fix this together. Those companies who do will be the winners in this latest War for Talent.

About the Author

Stuart Campbell is Business Leader - Manufacturing & Technology at Solutions Driven, a recruitment business serving clients and candidates internationally across a number of key sectors. You can follow Solutions Driven via twitter on @SD_Recruit or alternatively connect with Stuart on LinkedIn. If you'd like to find out more about Solutions Driven and the sectors we serve, please see our company website for further details:


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