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Hiring the best candidate not the best resume: there are many qualified people seeking positions--from a credentials standpoint. The real challenge for successful talent acquisition and management is finding the candidate that "fits" in.

Recruiters are the ones out there on the frontlines of the workforce, trying to bring talent into organizations. And though there are a lot of qualified people--from a credential standpoint--the "fit" is where the true challenge lies. Will this person fit our organization? There are many meanings to that. For example: does the person look and feel to others like they belong in this organization?

The answers to those questions play a huge role in the talent acquisition success. Unfortunately, recruiting and staffing is often seen by the organization as an easy thing, as a lower-level skill. To the contrary, identifying the right match of talent to the organization and the hiring manager that needs that talent is probably one of the hardest things under the umbrella of talent management.

Organizations sometimes shy away from being very definitive about the type of person they want, commonly because they don't want to be viewed as being biased in some way. But this could be erring too far on the side of "political correctness." As a culture and a society, this concept has been carried way too far.

One of the biggest frustrations of hiring managers is that recruiters take too long to get the talent the company needs. In reality, the business doesn't understand what the recruiter is doing.

When the hiring manager says, "I need a business development manager. I want them to have 10-12 years worth of experience. I want them to have worked for a Fortune 100 company and have a book of existing clients. I want this person to be in the local area, because I'm not paying for relocation."

All of these unique factors not only shrink the candidate pool and restrict the options of what the recruiter has to work with, but also increases time to hire. And this is just one of the issues recruiters are faced with daily. Once the hiring manager says, "Do you have everything you need? You're going to get me this person? Great, thanks." Then the clock starts for the business leader right then and there.

The Recruiter's Role

In reality, the recruiter takes this information and has to create the job requirement if it doesn't exist. That might take two or three days to write it, review it, post it and start to field resume submissions from applicants. It might be three weeks or a month from when the posting went up based on conversations with the hiring leader before the recruiter even starts to get candidates in for interview.

The hiring leader is impatient, to say the least. "It's been two months since you started this search. Where is this person I need?" Without constant contact from the recruiter back to the hiring leader, the hiring manager doesn't know the particulars of the situation or what goes on behind the curtain. They think, "Next time I'll hire an outside agency so I can get this done in less time."

Unfortunately, that's what happens to internal recruiters. View it this way: they are out there with a flashlight in the middle of the daytime trying to find someone's shadow. They've been given this exacting description of what skills they need to find but they have not had time to get a head start on trying to find that person. And they get very little respect or thanks when they do find the needles in the proverbial haystack.

This may be reaching a point in the U.S. where things are going to stabilize, because nothing lasts forever--even downturns. As a nation, we are going to reach a point of stability. And when that does happen, there will be many organizations that are going to start to think differently.

They're not going to ever want to return to talent firefighting, and they will now be thinking, "We never want to go through that again. We want to at least be able to mitigate our exposure to the whims and vagaries of the markets and economics."

The only way to do that is to literally have as lean and as flexible an organization as possible. That means do more with less. To accomplish that, firms have to have top talent and processes to enable that talent to do their jobs while pioneering a new paradigm.

They can't do more with less if the people in the firm do not have the capability to pull it off. The best way to find those people is to grow them. It's impossible to just hire them; because going outside to hire means that they had to be "poached" from elsewhere, which costs money and is not a long-term solution to a recurring problem.

Over a 20-year period, corporations and organizations have had to resign themselves, to hire and replace, hire and replace. Missing the type of talent management savvy that gives Gen Xers comfort about their career with the organization will cause candidates to go elsewhere; thus, the firm will consistently need to hire and replace.

'Talent Farming' Can Improve the Process

A properly structured talent management strategy such as "talent farming" can dramatically cut the cost of that impact and can guarantee, perhaps, a seven-figure savings over the long run to the company in recruiting and staffing agency costs. But talent farming is not a quick-fix solution. It's not an approach to be implemented with the thinking: "It's going to completely solve all of our retention problems or our employee issues over a year."

Now, in a year's Lime the foundation can be laid for something that will help over a five-year period, and certainly longer--if you stay the course.

Talent farming will instead be a long-term fix, the economic solution. Amortizing the cost of implementing a talent farming philosophy will take longer but will result in a much lower cost than using staffing agencies exclusively as an extension of internal recruiters (which, unfortunately, has become more routine now), leaving the organization's internal recruiters powerless or being seen as not having the skills they need to bring the talent into the organization as requested.

The contingency and retain search model--when used exclusively--is taking money right out of the pockets of organizations by becoming the hiring managers preferred route to finding and hiring top talent. Organizations that are building long-term leadership succession and bench strength philosophy for the organization buy into a farming approach.

There are serious questions that companies and organizations must now ask internally:

* Do we want to continue to muddle along with this talent management thing and have things remain he same?

* Do we want the board of directors to continue to kick us to get a plan in place?

* Do we want to put the company into the position where it can compete the next time there's an economic downturn--which there will be--or the competition has a decided advantage and we're losing market share?

* Do we want to invest in talent farming now so that we can have the best talent in house to deal with whatever organizational challenges come next?

It is not necessary to continue down the path of trying to figure out what accommodates the firm's need to feel comfortable, but is in opposition to the desire to get a result. Because sometimes, discomfort is necessary to attain the result wanted. It may mean going through a period where it's going to be downright ugly as the organization shakes things up, breaks things down and builds them back up stronger.

A sustainable, proactive approach to talent management is the organization's displayed willingness to make lasting cultural change.

Talent management is about sourcing candidates for knowledge, skills and abilities to accomplish today's goals for the organization as well as considering its future needs. It stresses the importance of hiring based on the right fit for the individual and the organization.

Being stuck in the middle between having employees who are able to do the job and in a place where they can do the job well is where many organizations often find themselves. However, many are learning to recognize the warning signs and understand the importance of getting it right when hiring for the best fit.

Curtis L. Odom, Ed.D. (Curtis.odom@prescientstrategists.corn), is a talent strategy and culture change expert in Boston and author of Stuck in the Middle: A Generation X View of Talent Management, 2012, Adducent Publishing.
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Title Annotation:Career
Author:Odom, Curtis L.
Publication:Financial Executive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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