Moving forward: talent wars

There can be little doubt that there is a shortage of talented individuals.
At face value this may seem to contradict the percentage of our population now
benefiting from a first degree, and from that same source the number of people
who see their future career in the professions, not least accountancy.

The competitive landscape being what it is, however, there are unprecedented
demands upon organisations to identify new trends for their products or
services, prepare strategies and execute them. Increasingly, this is placing a
demand for individuals who are well educated, bright, smart and want to run

The interesting thing is that the education system is turning out more and
more people who want to provide advice for a career. The accounting and law
firms being a prime example.

Guess what? Amongst that particular vein of talent, there is an increasing
predominance of simply world class female talent but, and I accept this is a
generalisation, among that group of individuals there is not an overwhelming
percentage that actually want to run things and, therefore, be in one form or
another, bottom-line accountable.

The Financial Times thesis that organisations should grown their own
talent is, therefore, naïve. Thirty or 40 years ago Procter & Gamble, Shell,
British Petroleum, ICI, Mars and many more felt that they could offer post
graduates a job for life. I can’t think of one sector where today that is a
realisable objective.

Given the changing marketplaces, constant changes of direction are called for
within corporate structures and this means recourse to the outside world in
order to identify and attempt to recruit that same talent. The word ‘war’,
therefore, is hardly inappropriate.

The response to the war, therefore, does not just mean using the right
resources to identify shortlists, but for the recruiting programme to be
properly sponsored by senior management and for recruits to be ‘on-boarded’

It is easy to assume that smart people will immediately grasp how the
organisation works and what is expected of them. Typically the reverse is true,
so recruitment is the beginning of the exercise, the really tough job then is to
retain talent.

Andrew Garner is chief executive of Garner

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