It is possible to know everyone you intend to recruit five years in advance. Not only is it possible, it’s the most strategic form of recruiting. By clearly articulating your requirements, you can transform Human Capital Acquisition from a reactive game into a proactive offensive strategy.
The problem with the term “Human Capital” is that it perpetuates the notion that human beings are interchangeable anonymous widgets. People who are treated as if they were capital, start to behave like capital. They move to the source of the highest return as quickly as possible without regard to loyalty.
Most recruiting happens in response to a variety of ”surprises”: Attrition higher than the forecast; the unanticipated departure of a key contributor; unanticipated success in a new market; failure to adjust to changing conditions; the final release of “new” requisitions. Although the precise details of any given hiring requirement can never be perfectly predicted, they can be anticipated with a high degree of accuracy. What is often called “Strategic Recruiting” is really just a common sense approach to things that can be known about an organization.
Reactive processes are compounded by tools that work against effective recruiting. Applicant Tracking Systems, by and large, create overwhelming pools of data that inhibit clear decision making. They provide solid legal defenses and organizational buffers to cope with large volumes of data. They very specifically do not improve recruiting results.
Much is made of the importance of strategy. In an organization, there are two manifestations. Being Strategic and Strategic Planning.
The most important part of being strategic is being so well prepared that you are always on the proactive side of problem solving. There is nothing more strategic than a function which sets standards for anticipation. Since strategy is shaped by circumstance, the company depends on constituents that can continue to move the ball forward in changing situations.
Dwight Eisenhower (the greatest planner of the American Century) was known to say: “the plan is everything, the plan is nothing.” By this, he meant that planning is supremely important with one tiny exception. Reality never, ever unfolds the way that you plan it. It is paramount to have a thorough and detailed planning process. It is equally important to understand that things will not unfold the way that you’ve planned them.
Planning helps prepare for a variety of circumstances. In much of the western world, scenario planning, a technique that relies on viewing the future from a variety of perspectives that are designed to discover and challenge core assumptions, is used to build executive team competencies in dealing with the unknown. For most of us, however, participation in strategic planning means filling out a seemingly endless supply of spreadsheets and forms. It takes courage and tenacity to convert strategic planning, as it is experienced by most recruiters, into a useful asset for the organization.