The shadow of recession puts strategic resourcing in the spotlight

The recession – and the very vivid fear of dipping back into it – has affected many areas of our personal and working lives over the last few years. When it comes to recruitment and resourcing, employers are responding to the challenging economic climate by getting much more strategic when it comes to talent acquisition.

Fears over the recession and economic pressures have fixed a firm spotlight on talent and now, rather than being tasked with simply filling vacancies, resourcing professionals are charged with delivering value and impact for their business through talent management and acquisition. For those working in this area, the world they are used to is evolving quickly, and they and their organisations need to keep up if they’re to stay competitive and agile.

Research recently undertaken in late 2012 by The Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers (The FIRM) confirms this massive shift in the positioning and perception of talent acquisition. We accept that, historically, HR and recruitment in particular were regarded as the “poor relations” among central support functions. Yet our STAR study of senior managers, carried out with Write Research, strongly suggests these days are now behind us, with the recession being a pivotal moment.

The STAR research underlines the profound impact of the recession on senior management attitudes to the importance of talent; 75% of respondents believe recruitment is viewed more importantly by senior managers than before the recession.

People-centric strategies

The findings confirm senior managers are now advocates of people-centric strategies that put the appointment of transformational individuals to critical roles at the heart of organisational success. Economic pressures and corporate caution may continue to focus the talent debate on internal mobility and the development of existing employees, yet the identification of best-in-class individuals from the external market is of increasing importance.

Confirmation of this evolution in resourcing can be seen in the findings of a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group, which highlighted that, of 22 HR activities, “delivering on recruiting” has the biggest impact on organisational revenue growth and the second highest impact on profit margin – with improving employer branding ranking fourth for both revenue and profit.

Other recent studies support these findings. A Korn Ferry report reveals that 45% of global executives said talent management was the most important strategy for their organisation – more so than marketing (26%), financial management (21%) or capitalisation (7%). Recruitment and resourcing has come a long way in recent years – the recession has had a profound impact on senior management attitudes to the importance of talent.

Talent acquisition

So what can talent acquisition specialists do to keep up with the tide of change? It’s clear that “learning to recruit” is no longer enough and we need to up our game. Programmes such as the Strategic Resourcing Programme that The FIRM has developed with Henley Business School will enable talent acquisition professionals to become strategic partners and add value to the wider business goals.

Realistically, it’s true to say that the fundamentals of recruitment haven’t changed in recent years and won’t change significantly in the future, whether we are in recession or not. Simply speaking, you identify the need to hire, you find someone to fill the post, you hire them and then they do the job you’re paying them to do. What truly makes the difference is how you, as a recruiter, position yourself within your organisation. Take the opportunity to build your own reputation and demonstrate how you as an individual and the recruitment team can add value to the bottom line.

Investing in building the capability and skills of yourself and your team is a must. You need to be committed long term and give your plans the time they need to come to fruition. With stronger and more refined strategic awareness and understanding, your role as a talent acquisition specialist will ensure you’re equipped to deliver the results your business needs. But more than this, it will help you to create sustainable partnerships with third parties and senior managers; you’ll be talking their language, understanding exactly what they need from you and recognise how your decisions and recommendations impact on the bottom line.

Moving from an operational and reactive way of working to one with a greater strategic resourcing focus doesn’t take much, but it is a very deliberate change that you need to engineer and stay in control of. By getting it right now and preparing yourself and your organisation for resourcing in a recession – albeit the shadow of one – means you’re ready to reap the rewards in the good times too and well positioned to stay at the top of the senior management agenda for the long term.

So, what are you waiting for? Are you going to be driving a strategic resourcing agenda during the bad times? Or letting them dictate how you recruit forever?

Gary Franklin is co-founder of The Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers

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