A War for Talent? What War?

According to BrainyQuote the definition of War: A contest between nations or states, carried on by force, whether for defence, for revenging insults and redressing wrongs, for the extension of commerce, for the acquisition of territory, for obtaining and establishing the superiority and dominion of one over the other, or for any other purpose; armed conflict of sovereign powers; declared and open hostilities.

Based on this definition of War, there is no War for Talent here in Australia. If this was a war, then we would all be equiped with Bibi Guns, Paintball Guns, and Water Bombs, whilst facing off against each other such as the days of civil war. Perhaps its nothing more than a game of croquet to most, competitive, and gentleman like. It certainly is not hostile, does not display superiority, and would hardly be described as a contest.

I recently attended the 2012 Australian Talent Conference in Sydney where we heard about how oganisations in the USA aggresively target talent. What they are doing here could be considered Counter Intelligence, Ballsy, and most definately aggressive. Examples provided include

  • placing food vending vans out front of competitors giving away free food in return for a business card,
  • listening to social media channels to discover where the Top 100 employees are being flown to and who they are
  • Using social media and ‘profiling’ techniques to identify better ‘fit’ employees beyond experience and qualification
  • Following a first interview the applicants details are sent to a panel for review who then decide on whether to appoint an individual. Removing any potential discrimination issues.

These activities are becoming more and more creative, and aggressive and yet here in Australia are relatively non-existent. Occassionally you do hear of a Professional Services firm lifting out whole Audit, Tax teams which is AWESOME (in my aggressive opinion), but very much a Once in a Blue Moon rarity.

I recall several occasions where I have caused such a stir by placing head hunting calls/emails into organisations that the respective competing Regional Managers contacted my employer to raise their concerns about my underhanded techniques and breaking of various gentleman’s agreements! Whilst my employer was supportive of my actions, I was asked not to approach one of our major competitors again. I tucked my shirt back in, bowed and moved on graciously. My pool of direct prospects suddenly shrank by 25%.

So why is it that Australian companies are so hesitant to engage in aggressive attraction strategies? Is it because the market is so small? Is it because organisations are simply not brave enough to take on its competitors for fear of reprisal or are we just lazy? What are your thoughts?

It’s time for organisations to be creative, get targeted, maybe aggressive, analyse data, but it’s time to take the fight to your competitors if you truly are looking to secure the best talent and grow your business.

I don’t think there is a War for Talent in Australia, and if it was a war, it would be a Cold War at that.