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It is better
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Talent Pool Protection
(March 03, 2003) -
-  A flash of orange caught our attention just as we began to write this piece. The great blue herons have returned. This time, after their earlier visit to the koi pond, all tentativeness vanished. The bird simply swooped in, leaned into the pond and grabbed a snack. The big blue and grey creature seemed almost surprised at how easy it was. It flew to the next roof and sat, smirking.

We've been thinking a great deal about the development of talent pools. You'll remember that in the article about the first visit from the herons, we imagined that they were a metaphor for the in-house hiring managers and recruiters who meet their requirements by going to a well stocked talent pool. It's been such a long economic drought that we forgot about the more predictable aspect of recruiting.

One company's talent pool is another company's free lunch.

As pretty as the herons are and as much as we love seeing them, we're taking the office supply of plastic and duct tape and covering the pond until we can figure out a more elegant solution. In the past, companies have blocked a range of email, filtered phone exchanges and tried a variety of methods to prevent raids by marauding third party firms. Today we're thinking about the herons as a metaphor for external recruiters trying to poach our talent pond.

The truth is that a certain range of policies make it easy for the poachers. Playing 'scrooge' with the raise pool, limiting internet access, ill defined jobs with unclear responsibilities, burdensome overtime, encouragement of family neglect, greedy ESOP schemes and overly aggressive expense management are some of the obvious things a company can do to encourage poachers. Capital shortages, customer attrition and politicized downsizing are subtler and more corrosive.

The Talent Pool includes all future, current and past employees (although many firms are rightly concerned about interactions with past employees these days). Each aspect of the pool requires investment in growth, maintenance, development and protection.

There are industries (like Health Care) where the poachers are having a good year. It's only a question of time before the rest of us experience the phenomenon. In the days since the downturn, the techniques of third-party houses have been widely absorbed by traditional recruiting departments. So, as we poach, we have to protect ourselves from poachers.

The best bet is to have loyal, happy and adaptive membership in the Talent Pool. That means far more than an occasional email. It involves delivering real value over and over again. The competition in the talent market is for the mindshare of each individual. It costs real money per candidate.

- John Sumser  

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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