Jay Mattern

Revisiting “The Coming War for Talent”

As staffing professionals, we all know the current pressures in finding enough people to fill client job orders. Even though the U.S. economy is turning the corner, there remains a shortage of talent ready and willing to return to work. Whether it’s state and federal unemployment payments, the continued concern over returning to work and contracting COVID, or a lack of adequate child care, there are multiple causes that are contributing to this crunch.

In April 2020, I published an article entitled "The Coming War for Talent." In it, I stated that the economic recovery from lockdowns would begin in June or July of 2020 (Data from the BLS shows that the recovery actually started on June 9, 2020). My rationale for this was that there would be significant consumer demand (which proved to be true and still is true) and that there would be a rush of laid-off workers anxious to return to work. What I didn’t account for was the U.S. Government injecting several trillion dollars into the economy as a combination recovery/stimulus package. 

So while I missed the factor of a delayed return-to-work due to government funding, the essence of my prediction was spot-on.  There is definitely a war for talent, but it’s being fought over a shortage of talent rather than an excess. Therefore, many of the key recommendations I put forth are even more relevant: 

  • Get there early and be there often. Do not wait until everyone is on the hunt for candidates. The winners in the war for talent are those who have a measured strategy and play the long game.
  • Deliver branding that uses “candidate-speak.” The client-facing brand offers nothing to those who will actually be offered an assignment. Few, if any, staffing agencies do a good job of crafting brand messages that resonate with the candidate market. There is plenty of room to capture that advantage.
  • Make a compelling argument to the candidate. Given the shortage of job seekers, it is critical that you offer a compelling reason why the candidate should consider working for you. Just like the value proposition you present to the prospective client, you need a similar one for prospective employees. It’s not enough just to have an open job. All of your competitors have them, too.
  • Strategically use automation. The operative word here is “strategic.” Don’t jump into the staffing technology pool just because everyone else is already swimming in it. Be clear on why you intend to adopt automation and make sure it makes the candidate experience easier and more memorable.

If you want to win the talent war, you have to have a battle plan. TerraFirma can help you craft a winning plan. After all, we called this talent shortage a year before it actually happened. If we can do that, we surely can help your staffing firm close the gap on winning. 

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