Searching For Talent in All the Wrong Places

by Valerie Jones, Careers Editor

I recently attended WorkforceNEXT’s (WFN) spring summit, a one-day conference focused on strategic HR and workforce management in the energy industry. I’ve attended several of their conferences and while I generally find all the sessions of interest, I especially enjoy the lunch sessions – no, it’s not because there’s food involved.

At least that’s not the only reason.

The lunches, which WFN describes as peer-to-peer roundtables, allow attendees to discuss energy hot topics of their choosing. I always steer to the talent acquisition tables because, well … that’s what interests me.

One lady I was speaking with was an HR professional in the recruiting space. I won’t publish her name or company – that’s not important. What’s important is what she told the table.

She said since the industry has slowed down, when clients come to her to find qualified candidates, at times, she wants to redirect them back to their own company.

“Sometimes, you’ll have those high potentials in your company already. Why not pay to have them get that one extra certification or upskill them so that they can fill the role?” she said. “I know it’s turning away money for me, but I’d rather be honest with them. That client relationship is more valuable to me than a few dollars.”

She made a good point. Employers often run to recruiters and staffing agencies in hopes of filling unique positions within their companies, but often don’t equip recruiters with the necessary tools to find the right fit – company culture, for instance, is something that should always be shared with recruiters, but often isn’t, she said.

And even worse is when an employer fails to recognize the talent within their own organization.

It shouldn’t take a downturn for a company to begin their succession planning, but if that’s the case, then now is definitely the time to do it.

Here’s how you can start:

  • Identify your high potentials – those who you expect to be your future leaders – within your organization
  • Take an inventory of the skillsets you currently have and determine where your future needs will be

It’s imperative to check your employees’ engagement levels. While most attention is focused on your high potentials and workers who don’t perform well, there’s a big chunk of your workforce (the “Steady Eddys” as one attendee refers to them) who consistently do good work but don’t make waves. Therefore, they may not be on your radar. But with the proper coaching, those employees could make great middle managers.

Use the downturn as a time to help your company plan for future success, by developing the right people for future roles. Don’t neglect the talent you have within your own organization. If you invest in your employees, the return on investment will be much greater because, let’s face it – sometimes the new hire just doesn’t work out.

And sometimes, it just takes a recruiter to tell you that during lunch.


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