Three talent acquisition lessons from the fiscal cliff

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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January 3, 2013

We are now painfully aware of all the last minute wrangling that went on in the Senate and the House to keep the country from falling off the fiscal cliff. I doubt (but remain optimistic) that our lawmakers learned anything from the experience; however, there are a few things we can take away.

Since this year looks to be no different from last year, when you are hiring new talent into your organization, your success in finding the right people could mean the success or failure of your department or company. Specifically here are three lessons from the fiscal cliff to think about when you assess your team and what you need to do to create successful talent acquisition processes.

Communication – There must have been a lot of back-door communications and arguments that took place to get the measure passed. It also took a lot of communication about what both sides wanted, what could wait and what was absolutely necessary. The same discussions and communications should be taking place around talent acquisition for your company. People will leave your company, new skills will be needed and old skills will need to be maintained. It’s more critical than ever to talk to hiring managers, executives and other areas of the company to find out what skills are necessary now and in the future. This is the start of talent acquisition planning and should be happening now (at the beginning of the year) and updated frequently.

Leadership – The sad truth is that many times leadership means compromise; or in other words, that you probably won’t be able to make everyone happy. Leadership in talent acquisition means you may have to take a few chances, change things around that perhaps are not working, or challenge your team to do more with less. Right now, HR or even hiring managers need to be leaders with respect to talent acquisition. There may be some unpopular things that can be done or tried, such as outsourcing, but without plans or any changes, you could just be waiting for your company to fall of their own fiscal cliff.

Waiting/Posturing – Speaking of waiting, I heard many times last year that companies were “waiting to hire” or putting hiring plans on hold. The question you have to ask is what happens when you really do want to start hiring? What plans do you have in place? The “we are in a hiring freeze so we don’t need to look at our hiring processes” posture is ignoring at least half of the problem. Most surveys show that a large percentage of your employees (much more than half in some surveys) are actively looking for a job. And top performers are at the top of that list as they look for ways to gain higher wages or upward mobility. If you are not looking at how to get (and keep) top performers, you are setting yourself up for a bit of a talent cliff.

The reality is that most companies have already had a bit of a fiscal cliff of their own. In cutting things like HR and talent acquisition, they may have inadvertently cut off their ability to climb out of the hole. Getting the right people on your team is going to be critical for the coming year of (hopefully) modest growth. Without a good talent acquisition plan, the most you can hope for is more of the same.


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