Once a business has established its workforce planning and clearly outlined what it is looking for among potential new hires and internal talent, it is then necessary to search for talent at the proper time. If your business is ready to begin the process of acquiring talent, there are a number of things to consider during this process. Most importantly, do not become over invested in the talent acquisition aspect of talent management. Of course acquiring talent is extremely important to the long term success of your business, otherwise, you would not need talent. However, it is vital that you remember that the best talent is developed through an ongoing process that can take years; going all out to hire talent that you or your company are not yet prepared for or that demands a disproportionate amount of your time or money. Nevertheless, these considerations are not as important as finding someone with potential and developing their talent.
A key element of talent management is understanding competency and what competencies are typically necessary for your employees, especially those that are considered talent. While education and experience certainly can help an individual become competent and personality characteristics may play a role as well, these are still not the same thing as core competencies. The most essential competencies are as stated below.
Adaptability. An individual who is able to manage change, shift priorities, effectively handle ambiguous situations, and positively influence others to do the same is an impressive person indeed. While an individual may be highly prepared to complete certain tasks, if they are unable to handle change, they are not going to be suitable for talent positions. After all, you hire talent to bring about long term change and success; an individual who is unable to adapt can hardly help others develop their adaptability.
Respect. It cannot be overstated how important and necessary it is for all employees (but especially those in leadership positions such as those your talent may be in) to respect every person that they come into contact. From a night cleaner to a sales representative, to the CFO, every person within a company or organization deserves respect. Clients, industry peers, and other people likewise deserve respect. Even when someone conducts himself badly and is a detriment to the company, they may deserve to be fired but they still deserve respect. Showing others respect is not simply a matter of being courteous and civil, it is also about having integrity, appreciating diversity, and demonstrating equity and fairness. Showing respect also means behaving in an ethical fashion and reporting responsibly when someone else is violating an ethical or legal practice.
Assuming the mission. All for-profit businesses want to make money. Successful for-profit businesses want to make money while also doing other things whether it is to provide excellent service, develop solutions, build relationships, or others. Whether your company's goal is to provide quality tires to enhance road safety or to develop a family friendly atmosphere for holiday vacations, the best talent will learn to assume the mission and purpose of the company, not only the purpose of their job. For non-profit organizations, any staff member should be able to tell you the mission of the organization, not just what they do or even what the agency does; they should know the mission and take it on as their own, regardless of the position they hold.
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Problem solving. It would not be talent if it did not require a higher level of thinking and doing. Talent has to be fostered and thankfully, creative problem solving is something that can be developed to a certain degree (though it certainly helps to have someone with some experience in solving problems). More than anything, what you do not want is someone who is easily defeated when they come across a problem or conflict. An individual who can challenge premises and think critically has the potential for creative problem solving if they are nurtured correctly.
Developing relationship. There are many people in many positions that are vital to success of the company. Not all of them necessarily have to be effective at developing relationships but it is certainly ideal when they are or at least have the ability to be effective in this way. Some types of talent, such as top level computer technicians or scientists, may not have much success in building relationships but they may certainly be considered part of your talent. When it comes to acquiring talent, it is important for the company to understand and appreciate the strengths and limitations of each individual and to decide when it is necessary for relationship building to be present.
At this point, you should have planned for your workforce, both outlining and detailing the positions you need to be filled, the type of person you are looking to fill them, the competencies you consider most important for each position, and virtually everything else that would comprise your ideal candidate for each talent position. However, you are not yet ready to begin searching and acquiring talent. Among your ideas and notes regarding ideal candidates, you should also have defined some minimums that you require and in what areas you are willing and able to compromise. Most businesses are looking for the same types of talent, even businesses that are doing completely different things. Those competencies previously discussed are universally desirable and every boss wants a staff that is educated and experienced. Unfortunately, that means that there are very few individuals with fully developed talent and many people with potential.
If you need fully developed talent to make immediate changes or to take over significant roles rapidly within the company, you need to expect to pay for what you are getting. Experience, education, and competencies come at a cost since anyone with all three is going to be highly sought after. For some companies, this may not pose much of a problem, especially for positions that require talent. For most companies, however, cost is a factor and cost is not defined by salary alone. Salary, health benefits, life insurance, 401k contributions, sick leave, personal and vacation days, and miscellaneous benefits such as on-site day care, telecommuting options, or free gym membership (as examples) all contribute to the overall package you will offer your potential hire. Most of these things cost money and they all cost some kind of finite resource. Before you can go about acquiring talent, you must have already determined what you can and are willing to offer a potential employee. If you want to bring someone in with more developed talent, you have to have a significant offer. If, like most companies, you will need to take on employees with more potential than fully developed talent, your package can be less costly.
Now that you have decided what you are looking for in virtually every sense of the word, start looking. Certainly, if you are in a financial position to do so and the needs you have for your talent are at the appropriate level, you may find it helpful to consult or contract with a recruiter or a similar agency. If so, be very clear about your expectations for a potential hire as well as what you can offer the hire, it is a waste of everyone's time and money for you to be vague now. You should also communicate whether you are willing to poach an employee who may not be actively looking for a new position.
If you do not plan to use a recruiter, you will find that there are numerous avenues to explore to find new talent at limited financial expense. Posting an ad in your local newspaper may be a good way to test the waters and see what you might be able to find; this technique typically works best when you are looking for undiscovered talent. Undiscovered talent can be a tremendous boon to your company but it may take some time to find undiscovered talent and it will likely take some level of development before they can take over a top tier position. Many states now have an online clearinghouse for employers to post jobs, including those that are looking for talent to fill positions. These sites are often free to use and many feature the ability for you to determine your minimum requirements and it will only send you the information for candidates that offer what you are seeking. This can be an excellent avenue for finding undiscovered talent or developing talent.
Many companies are having success acquiring talent using technology. More and more positions, even those in leadership, can be successfully filled by someone who may not even live in the area or come to a physical location for work. Between email and voice communications online, companies now have access to a much wider range of potential employees. It is also wise not to overlook the value of consultants and contract workers, especially for particular job functions or during transitional times before new talent is able to fill top positions.