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Where to Find Talent in this Economy

Monday, October 4, 2010
The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC®) has asked its global membership to comment on the likeliest sources of top talent. SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD states, "While there are more good people available than ever before, there are more people overall available than ever before. We're interested in how to make the best selections the first time."

"The first place to spot top talent is inside your own organization," points out David A. Fields of Ascendant Consulting in Ridgefield, CT. "Every company has diamonds in the rough who merely need polishing and redirecting to become star performers. Conversely, a hotshot poached from the competition will underperform if processes, policies or reporting structures are systemically flawed." According to Fields, executives should look for three attributes to uncover hidden gems among the current ranks: 1) competence overcoming past adversities (regardless of scale) 2) self-motivated and passionate learners and 3) a bias for action.

Fields notes that in his work with scores of America's most respected CEOs, the war for talent is consistently the most vexing challenge they face. His rationale for this problem is sobering: "Over the next 15 years, there will be 15 percent fewer Americans in the 35-45-year-old age range than there are today. Assuming that the U.S. economy averages 3 percent to 4 percent growth each year, the demand for smart 35- to 45-year-olds will jump by 25 percent, even as the supply will be plunging by 15 percent."

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive/career coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a strategic talent management consulting and leadership coaching firm in San Francisco, California. He offers a few insights:

"Leaders of successful companies spend half of their time recruiting new talent, picking the right people for positions, grooming high potentials and reviewing the entire talent pool."

"Attract talented people with what the authors of The War for Talent call an ‘Employee Value Proposition' recruitment message that appeals to their fulfillment needs:

  • Exciting work
  • A value-driven culture in a great company
  • A company that is well-managed by great leaders
  • Wealth and rewards
  • Opportunities for growth and development
  • The ability to meet personal and family commitments.

"Strategically source talent on Social Media sites LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to attract top passive talent. Companies find talent through social media, by running competitions, surveys, blogs and email updates. Millennial generation employees tap into their social networks, referring their friends to companies such as Google considered a great place to work."

Robbie Kellman Baxter of Peninsula Strategies in California ( adds, "Stars generally want to work with other top performers, so talent begets talent.

"The best companies usually focus first on creating a workplace environment that encourages and rewards great performance, which pays dividends as word gets around. Places like Google, BCG and Cisco, who are all on Fortune's 2010 list of the best places to work, are known for their unique and often demanding cultures. Great talent is attracted to these places, where employees are given great opportunities to make an impact."

"Top talent is all around you," says Robert Chinsky Matuson of Human Resource Solutions in Flroence, MA, author of Succenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Managing All Around. You just need to know where to look. Begin by asking your most valuable employees who they know, that might be a good fit for the position you are seeking to fill. It certainly can't hurt to provide a financial incentive, (also known as an employee referral program), to encourage employees to recommend others to your organization.

"I've helped companies acquire some great talent by providing them with the contact information for people I have met while dining out or making purchases at the mall. If you are seeking to fill entry-level positions and you are willing to train people, then consider asking service providers who have impressed you, if they are open to discussing a new opportunity with you when their shift ends.

"Be a magnet for attracting top talent. This is an area where my clients receive dividends for years to come. Together, we work on issues that are blocking them from achieving the status of a great place to work. When you become known as a premiere employer, (think Google, Apple, etc.) you have to do very little to find top talent because top talent will find you."

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