Talent Strategy When You Are Not Hiring Or Don’t Have An Opening

Aug 3, 2020 9:12:00 AM · by David Kushan

Identify The Right Talent Before You Need It

What’s the difference between recruiting and talent acquisition? Generally speaking, here’s how I differentiate the two: Recruiting focuses on filling open positions. And while talent acquisition inevitably fills open positions, those positions have been planned for in the context of a big-picture strategy. Put another way, recruiting is reactive, whereas talent acquisition is proactive


In a blog I first posted in August 2012 (Are You Hiring Talent or Filling a Job Opening), I outlined steps that top hiring managers take to ensure that they have the right people in place to build a high-performance team. 


The blog discusses how the best hiring managers take a proactive approach to identifying talent for their key roles before they actually need them. Someone else in your organization can help with the process, but the team leader owns the hire. They own the process. How much more successful might your team be if each time you had an open position for a key role, you already had a bench of three to four people whom you knew would be ideally suited?


There’s no better time to identify these types of people than right now. Due to COVID-19, there are many exceptional people who’ve been furloughed or let go and are looking to join a new team. 


However, many leaders have the mentality that, since they’re not hiring, there’s no reason to interview. Must you have a formal interview? I don’t know your company policy, but can you have an informal exchange via social media? Can you have a casual conversation about an industry issue?


If your organization is not hiring now, that’s fine. There will come a time when you’re hiring again. You’ll probably start to hire around the same time as many other organizations. The question is, will you already have a pool of candidates who are great fits for your team, or will you be starting from scratch? Many organizations will acquire the best talent available simply because they were a couple of steps ahead of their competition.


The alternative is to wait until you have the opening and then try to fill the position as quickly as possible. To be clear, this is not acquiring talent — it’s hiring the best of who responds to your ad.


Proactive organizations that are looking for talent will have a tremendous head start over organizations that say they are acquiring talent but, in reality, their tactics demonstrate that they’re really just looking to fill an open job as quickly as possible.


In an ideal world, as a leader, you would know and have a relationship with many individuals who have the knowledge, skills, experience, and talent to contribute and be a top performer on your team. If you did, then the next time you have an opening, the only thing you would have to do is reach out and see if the position you have would be a good fit for the role you are trying to fill. In other words, does the role you have to offer line up with the candidate’s long-term goals. Whether the candidate has the right skills or would fit into your team and organization would already be determined.


General, Hiring, David Kushan


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