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Notes from the World of Talent Acquisition

I had the opportunity to attend “The New Talent Management: Strategies for the Future,” this year’s theme for the annual Global Conference hosted by the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruiters (IACPR) in New York City last week.  IACPR connects professionals in executive search with talent acquisition leaders at several Fortune 500 companies.  The mood at the conference was clear – recruitment volume is way up for both internal and external professionals in 2011, and the expectation is that this activity will increase even more in 2012.  If only companies were hiring rank-and-file employees at the same rate they are hiring executives, we could make a significant dent in unemployment!

Some takeaways from the conference that I’d like to share with you:

Social Recruiting Hype is Still Outstripping its Utility
Social media still hasn’t gained significant traction as an effective recruiting resource.  While 70% of corporate recruiters are using social media to source candidates, only 3% of executive hires come from this source, according to Donna Weiss from the Corporate Leadership Council (CLC).  I wonder if we might be quibbling a bit on the definition of “source” in these data, but if accurate, the message to corporate recruitment leaders is clear: if your recruiters are spending a good amount of their days trolling on sites like LinkedIn, you’re probably not making the best use of their time.  Candidates, too, need to get out of their home offices, breathe some fresh air and schedule a networking meeting (or 12) with a former colleague, service provider or college classmate.  According to the CLC, employee referrals and search firms are by far the most successful hiring sources.

Diversity has Gone Global
Diversity has an ever-evolving role and definition in the workplace.  Companies seem to be moving away from a compliance-driven focus on diversity to one that is much more strategic and global.  I must have heard the term “multi-cultural leadership skills” 20 times during the two-day conference.  Companies increasingly have global management teams at corporate, regional and business unit levels.  It is not uncommon for a global company to have representatives from several countries serving on a leadership team; the ability to manage several languages and cultural frames of reference is becoming a critical leadership skill.   Unfortunately, this evolving view of diversity does nothing to address the issue of continued underrepresentation of people of color and women in the leadership ranks of most U.S. companies.

It’s Still Hard to get Employed Executives to Change Jobs
One issue lamented by internal and external recruiters alike was how difficult it is to get people to change jobs in the current environment.  You practically have to put a stick of dynamite under their chairs to blast them out.  The CLC noted that the two issues most important to executives when evaluating their current employers are compensation and stability.  The inference for recruiters is that employed candidates are going to be looking for a significant bump in compensation to consider making a move and, particularly at the higher levels, some downside protection if things don’t work out in the new job.

Overall, I thought the message from IACPR was very positive in terms of the employment outlook in the executive ranks.   This increase in activity, in conjunction with demanding hiring managers and candidates, will make 2012 another challenging year for talent acquisition professionals, but it sure beats the alternative.

One Response

  1. John,
    Your observations are interesting and in many ways encouraging. The observation about networking is particualy on point. I personnally enjoy networking meetings. You get to learn much more about what is happening within your industry and the business community which will bring long term benefits. I suspect that finance and accounting folks find it more difficult to get out of “thier home office.” Finance folks are not generally known for being outgoing. Thus, it may be difficult for them to feel confortable in those one on one or group settings. However, having the skills which underlye a good networker may actually be ones that will allow them to be more successful in their careers, particularly if they choose to work in mid market and smaller companies.

    I’d be interested to know what are your thoughts on this?


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