rising tide lifting all boats and competition for talent

November 30, -0001

are your near-term talent acquisition efforts aligned with long-term goals?

By Jon Pimblett

Events in 2008 and their downstream reverberation certainly acted as an inevitable catalyst for change. In the first years after the downturn, in-house teams and onsite RPOs understandably scaled back. However, and this is a crucial turning point for the outsourcing industry, it accelerated thinking and action within talent functions and external providers on achieving flexibility in scale, location, sourcing strategies, and technology solutions – all of which are actually requisites irrespective of economic circumstance.

Some organizational structures and outsourced programs were shown to be either too fixed or too transactional to support the short term. Heightened focus on cost and return meant, in my experience, more sharing and more dialogue about short- and medium-term goals. This, in turn, led to closer understanding between client and service providers about joint objectives. It was no longer “them” and “us”; rather, we were a team vying for the same outcome.

As demand fell, external vendors and agencies released numerous staff and senior employees. This has led to an increasingly fractured supplier landscape, with countless agency and search-and-selection start-ups focusing on specialization and drawing on their considerable years of market knowledge. This isn’t a negative in itself; it has simply led to a reassessment about supplier strategy and engagement. It also dovetailed well with the increased direct sourcing efforts by organizations. In my opinion, suppliers now have the platform to demonstrate genuine value through their niche market expertise.

A broad recruiter drain also occurred as professionals flocked to geographies less immediately impacted. This has had the positive effect of spreading know-how and a mature approach in developing recruitment markets. Throughout this period, however, hiring demand did not totally go away. As a result of the pressure to deliver within cost and time constraint during a period of considerable change, all talent functions have remained on their toes.

Accompanying all this has been a shift in candidate attitudes. During the lean years, their eroding confidence in the market led to prioritizing job security over all other requirements. But now, as conditions improve, security needs are taking a back seat to other employments benefits that come with new opportunities.

As a result, candidates with skills in high demand are more difficult to procure. In the UK, in particular, the pool of available permanent candidates is shrinking. A recent report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG shows that the “skills squeeze” has increased significantly in London and is being felt across all of the UK.

The demand for skilled labour is further exacerbated by strong economic growth in the UK, which has witnessed a surge in the past two quarters. Organizations are turning to a full range of resourcing options to realize commercial opportunities and near-term objectives. These include tactical solutions (i.e. utilizing contingent alternatives) and more strategic solutions (moving functions geographically or utilizing third-party external expertise).

Regardless of the approach, businesses experiencing growth should consider how their talent acquisition efforts today align with their goals for tomorrow. This is critical as failure to do so will only hinder future business opportunities. And if there is one lesson the financial services sector has learned in the past six years, that is staying agile and focused will help them stay healthy during the good times and the lean times.  

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