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Recruiting Talent Is As Hard As You Make It Out To Be

This weekend I spent most of my time in the office. I have been working on some non-revenue producing projects and I needed to do some catch up on what pays the bills. Part of that included spending some time on the phone with a VP Human Resources of a large publicly traded company who was looking for some new ways to create a talent pipeline. Giving advice and getting paid for it is a cool thing.

Apparently they are still using the same techniques they used during the post tech bubble and recession of 2001. They are posting jobs online and have a rarely used referral program. That's basically it.

I pointed him to an article on ERE, Can't Find Talent…You Must Be Kidding! by Dr. John Sullivan that had just been posted and we read through it together.

He said, "Paul, that could be us. Are we really that far behind?"

I was not sure how to answer his question as I had some sarcastic responses in my head. The quiet must have been a few seconds because he said my lack of response was "loud and clear".

He said that the company is not going to quickly implement a blog or hop on the social networking sites any time soon. They were too busy to get into that. I did respond with if you are too busy and doing what you are doing is not getting desired results that they could not afford to wait any longer. Go where the candidates are versus waiting for them to come to you I said.

That was met with a long pause that to me was "loud and clear" so I moved on.

While we covered all of the points in the article I focused in on one in particular, what Dr. Sullivan describes as the 2002 - 2005 period as a time when quality candidates were abundant. I have never understood why companies did not save the resumes and contact information and create a newsletter or email, anything to have stayed in touch with them.

I asked my HR friend if by chance they had used any sort of applicant tracking system back then and he said but that any resumes would have long again been purged.

I then asked if they had a backup. He said of course but why?

Simple, I understand that the contact information may be outdated, that those inquiring may have had a career change but why not find out.

He said that would take some time, time they do not have. I then asked how much time does it take to send out a form email. He said not very long but what if there were more inquiries than they could handle.

My long pause was loud and clear. I was thinking that is the best problem they could have.

He started to laugh and replied with, "I really am being difficult, right? What I am looking for you to tell me is where the magic tree with all of the available candidates is. What I need to do is understand that there are different kinds of trees and that the trees look a little different than they did five years ago." (I love a good analogy)

"Uh, yeah." I said, "Recruiting talent is as hard as you make it out to be and right now, you are your own worst enemy."

He asked if I would be interested in meeting with him and his senior staff to talk about this further. I said I would think about it and could I write about our conversation on the blog and give him my answer there too. He said yes to both.

Mr. VP HR, I would like to come in and chat with you and your group.

While there, what do you say you and I sign a fee agreement and add me to your preferred vendor list and not just the "B list" but the "A list"? From the looks of it my search firm colleagues could use a little competition.

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