Information Technology Management with a Purpose

May 19 2014   9:46AM GMT

Talent Acquisition

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

best practices
Talent acquisition

Talent acquisition has always been a challenge and we all struggle to find and get right people on board. We complain but still go about our process, managing to select persons who appear closest to the requirement that we defined at the start. In doing so we miss out getting the right talent and end up in a compromise citing various constraints to justify our stand.

There is a difference between talent acquisition and recruitment. While recruitment is about filling up a position, talent acquisition refers to the selection of the right person in the right position. Many a times we try to fit a square peg in the round hole, resulting in the incumbent’s dissatisfaction, low productivity and slow progress.

I have seen companies going through the process of recruiting CIOs and have also seen CIOs trying to appoint senior members to assist them in their work. They follow the normal process of recruitment and do sometimes manage to get good people but they also falter on many occasions. It may be useful to discuss a few factors or practices which can make talent acquisition more targeted and effective.

Defining the need

The requirement for a person could arise due to several reasons. It may arise when a new project or a new area is being taken up or when a new technology is being introduced. It could be to acquire a talent or expertise which the company does not have or could simply be to replace a person who has left. Whatever be the reason, it is necessary to know clearly the need for the person and his role in the organization. In the case of a replacement there is often a tendency to get a person with similar profile instead of reassessing the position and the need. In many organizations roles are assigned to persons to suit their capabilities but they do not review the role when a new person with a different skill set takes the position. For new positions too, the need should be clearly defined and understood by all.

The organization structure and his fitment

This is an area which requires more attention and a casual handling of this aspects leads to long term problems.  The organization structure in some companies is not formally recorded and approved and in other cases it is not reviewed at regular intervals to match the new emerging realities. It is important to know the position, designation and the reporting relationship for the new inductee. This helps in specifying the suggested profile, seniority and skill set for searching and short listing candidates for the position. Some companies often tweak the position depending on the candidate they have chosen which I think is not proper. While some flexibility could be in order but the organization structure and the requirement should not be played around with. I do not sometimes find the requirement to have a direct connect with the organization strategies and goals. For example when I left an organization my position (reporting to the CEO) was filled up with a person who was relatively junior and since he was three levels lower in hierarchy they changed the structure made him report to the finance function. The importance of IT and its value to business seemed unclear in this case.

Job or position description

All such positions should have a formal document describing the role, responsibilities and expectations from the incumbent. Such clarity is important when assessing candidates and in understanding their suitability. It is not uncommon to find non availability of a formal document authorized by the HR. On many occasions I have been handed over a quickly written paper listing down a few tasks that the candidate is expected to perform. For example when a CIO wanted a person to head infrastructure management, the job description said that he should know Unix/Windows, server management, database management and handling of LAN & WAN networks but nothing more.

While we lament unavailability of right candidates, we hear well deserving candidates complain lack of good opportunities. There is obviously a disconnect, which can be addressed to some extent if we are clear, objective and focused in our talent acquisition drive. Getting the right person adds synergy to the environment and serves our objective well.

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