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The Truth About Talent

Written by  Peter Weddle

Talented people aren't job seekers. Ever. They're career activists. They never look for a job, but they are always searching for a way to advance themselves in their field. And, that's how you recruit them.

The conventional view of the workforce is that it is composed of just two cohorts: active and passive job seekers. These groups aren't of equal size, however. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at any point in time, just 16 percent of the workforce is actively in transition. That means that the passive population accounts for the remaining 84 percent ... only it doesn't.

There is actually a third cohort in the workforce. This group is probably as large as the active job seeker cohort, but is composed of people who behave in exactly the opposite way. They are non-job seekers. They will never voluntarily leave their current employer. They are, in effect, "unrecruitable."

For most recruiters, therefore, the target demographic is the 68 percent of the workforce who are recruitable passive job seekers. But, here's the rub: these people aren't job seekers at all. They don't think of themselves as job seekers, nor do they act that way. They are, instead, career activists.

Career activists are a cross-generational slice of the American workforce bound together by a common aspirational goal. Whether they are 25, 40 or 55, they all want to be the best they can be in their profession, craft or trade. They want to express and experience their talent on-the-job. And, they proactively seek out employers with the culture and opportunities that enable them to do so.

A Distinction That's More Than Semantics

Career Activists are seldom recruited with conventional strategies and tactics. As I detail in my book, The Career Activist Republic, these individuals are unlike traditional job seekers. The key to recruiting them, therefore, is to focus on the factors which distinguish them and they alone share. Here are two.

They are almost always employed. The only way to recruit them, therefore, is to convince them to do the one thing humans most hate to do: change. You have to persuade them to go from the devil they know (their current employer, boss and commute) to the devil they don't know (a new employer, boss and commute).

That can't be accomplished with a job posting that is a cure for insomnia - a classified ad repurposed online or a position description from the HR Department. It takes an "electronic sales brochure" - a consumer oriented message that sells both the organization as a dream employer and the opening as a dream job. 

They listened to their mother. What was the first lesson your mother taught you? "Don't speak to strangers," right? Career Activists are risk averse. They have something to lose - their current job. So, they will only consider a career change when it is presented by someone they know and trust.

That's why so many InMail and email messages go unanswered. They are the product of seeing social recruiting as a "contact sport" - the focus is on the number of followers, friends and connections rather than on the caliber of the interaction with them. A better approach is to fashion social recruiting as a "team sport" and to give top talent the experience of being a member of your team - make them feel as if your employer already cares about and supports their career advancement - even before they have expressed an interest in an opening.

The truth about talent is simple. They're different. They know it, and they expect employers to know it, as well. Those that do AND demonstrate that's the case in their recruiting strategy and tactics will have a genuine advantage in the War for the Best Talent.

Thanks for reading,
Visit me at Weddles.com

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