Talent – the missing generation?

20 01 2010

Recently talking to one of my clients I found an interesting attitude relating to talent and particularly graduates. It seems earlier in the year when graduate recruitment was discussed there was a clear indication from the business, that they needed top quality graduates. Being an engineering company they were normally in tough competition with the other top companies for the dwindling supply of really good engineering gradutes. So all good for this last year with a mandate from the business heads to recruit and a potentially eager pool of graduates to select from, and some really being realistic about their employers offer – all was good in the world.

So what happened? Well it seems lots of internal politics, some over estimation of the ease of doing the process themselves,  lack of understanding of the graduate market place and possibly some apathy from staff. So the company will not recruit this year for the first time in many year- and NOT because of lack of need but lack of focus ! The people tasked with the process dropped the ball, missed the boat, lost the plot and failed to get a scheme together in time to recruit even when the go was given in August.

Why the missing generation? Well not only will there be no 2010 cohort to fill existing needs, but there will be a follow on effect in the university’s they recruit from, the lack of 2010 intake means less presence in the minds of the campus, less word of mouth contact as graduates go through the process of gettting a job they talk about it to friends, mainly others on their course or in their discipline… free PR.  Also internally the lack of graduates can send a signal to others in the professional ranks, thin end of the wedge… not taking on the talent for the first time in years… should I jump before I am pushed?

Now I am not saying recruit in all cases regardless of the economy… not at all… but when the buisness ok’s a  budget for it, analysed the need and agreed they had one, when the market is already tough ( engineers are hard to recruit normally) and when the buisines is doing well !! Now that is madness and there will be a missed generation of future talent who have gone to the competition..hey ho.

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Talent, graduates and future managers – a word of advice.

15 09 2009

This is the time of year when big employers and last year undergraduates start to pay real attention to the task of hiring.  It seems this year there are more people chasing fewer genuine professional graduate roles than ever before.  What does this mean for both parties; the employer who is seeing larger numbers of applicants all apparently fulfilling their criteria, and for the graduates who are all trying to make themselves stand out from the masses.

Well for employers this is a good time to be in the market for talent. However to cut down disappointment and ensure your talent search really  give you a return,  you must be clear what you are looking for.  Obvious I know, but alas so many employers are using out of date profiles for their talent search, or at best looking for the same sort of people they did last year.  In a market of unlimited choice, such as now, its pays to be really specific in what you are looking for, and getting a system in place to market specifically to that target group and have  an assessment method that REALLY differentiates the good from the average, and the excellent from the mere good.

Here’s the trick, do some analysis of the best performers in your last cohort, and the one or two before that. What makes them distinct from the average performers? D o the same for the more disappointing hires from the same time frame.  Compare the competencies from the distinctly good and those from those that disappoint – there will be a difference and if your smart you can construct on line or mass methodology question sets to find more of the same or better.

Now what about graduates – how do you get noticed and get to the interview?  Step one, realise who has the power here – it’s not you !  When you are applying online to a scheme with an employer and they ask lots of “dumb”  questions that are all contained in your generic cv –  realise that the 2 hours a good online application takes is the first hurdle and if they ask you to outline your biggest strength again,  theres a reason, if they ask you to tell them about your biggest disappointment, theres a reason ( they might even be smart questions in the right format). Failure to pay attention here and writing in ” see cv ” is instant nil point.  On average a screened by human application gets 20 seconds of attention before the next one, online automated , milliseconds, so do as asked is point one.

Now I know, I have a son just gone through this, that the response from many graduates is, this is my final year, I am so busy, there are exams you know, its mad taking so much time over one application – THIS IS TH E REAL WORLD, the point being, if you cannot manage your time,  priorities, and social life to do real justice to the application then do not apply.  The application form is the first test of your conviction , your ability to do as asked.

Secondly if you get to the telephone interview, a common second cut, have some prep done before the call. What do I mean, well this is the MINIMUM:

Research the company web site

Know who their biggest competitors are

Know what their mission statement says, not memorize but understand what is important to them

Know the competencies they are looking for and have some examples ( not as hard as it sounds, most are shown on the careers page, how to apply page or in the more about us section of websites)

Have some note paper to jot things down and have a pen ready!

As a regular consultant with companies recruiting graduates and as a past manager of graduate programmes I am still shocked at how many graduates won’t do the minimum when preparing for interview and the moan about companies not getting back to them quickly.  I think that the good graduates will succeed, and good is well rounded, hard working and those that realise this is a game and the rules are set by the employer – to win you have to play the rules and prepare and train hard to shine.

Good luck this year to all those who are looking for the best, and to the best  – you don’t need luck, just preparation.