The War for Talent – back on the agenda for 2010.

The number of people claiming jobless benefits in December dropped by 15200. According to the International Labour Organization, unemployment fell by 7000 in the three months to the end of November. Positive news at long last. At 7.8%, unemployment is clearly unacceptably high, but could we be starting to see a small chink of light in the long dark unemployment tunnel in the UK?

Data from the Association of Executive Search Consultants suggests “that the global executive search industry has returned to growth.  New mandates rose by 11% in the most recent quarters, and revenue per consultant rose by similar amounts across the industry”. More positive news, albeit clearly a global statistic, but senior management talent is increasingly mobile.

Research from the Interim Management Association tells us that the number of Interim opportunities are increasing. With so much Interim work project focused, unless projects have been considered business critical they have been shelved over the last 18 months. Slowly but surely clients tell me that having been in survival mode they are now starting to look forward and invest in the future. All this bodes well.

Anecdotally, HR Directors tell me recruitment is back on the agenda in 2010. However, budgets remain constrained. The challenge for HR Professionals is to look at ever more innovative and cost effective methods of attracting talent. However this may prove easier said than done. A popular mis – conception for the Executive Market is that if you are hiring there is a great deal of talent to choose from. I don’t agree. Talent is reluctant to move in this climate, preferring the perceived security of the devil you know versus a potential last in first out scenario.

Employers are going to have to ensure absolute clarity of the proposition as well as the efficiency and quality of process in order to maximise the potential to attract the best. Any sense that employers may have that the price to pay to attract the top talent has been reduced is not matched by the statistics. Surveys evidence that there hasn’t been the downward pressure on salaries that we have seen in previous downturns.

Some good news in the employment market is very much welcome for all. However the challenges organisations face to ensure they continue to attract the business critical talent they need to thrive are as prevalent now as ever they were. The very best companies will need to be innovative, creative and as focused on ever on developing an Employer Brand that attracts the very best people. The war for talent continues.


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