War for talent

This is a great expression and neatly sums up the skills shortages in the UK and the need for businesses to ‘go to war’ to find and attract talent for their businesses. I can’t remember when it was first used but it must have been in the noughties (or earlier) and has since shown no signs of relenting.

Whilst many articles are written about the war for talent and how businesses need to put recruitment as their number one priority, it doesn’t always feel that way with clients. We, and the candidates, do understand that line managers and directors have a business to run but you do wonder sometimes if the client does indeed understand that there is a war for talent out there! Long delays in decision making, periods of no communication and job offers with unattractive salaries and terms are quite usual.

Some even suggest that all you have to do is talk to (or email) a few candidates (off a database naturally, or from a competitor via LinkedIn) and they will be lining up to join their firm! Some are more clued up and realise that even if we find a scarce candidate their current employer will not let them go that easily as they will then be back in the war for talent themselves.

So, does the war for talent mean that you need to do things to find and attract talent that you wouldn’t do in peacetime? Aggressive searching, overinflated salaries and benefits, signing on fees, kidnap and extortion? Perhaps not.

But you do need to realise that it is not just about recruiting talent but also keeping it within your business which is a long term project. When you find them you need to train them in your ways, familiarise them with the business and hope that you get a payback before they leave to further their career (or join a competitor). Some reports recently have suggested this might be four to eight years for a star graduate.

In todays, fast moving business world, can we afford that time? More importantly, are the aspirations and offerings of a company matching those of the candidates? War for talent indeed.