For the past couple years, as global companies have tightened their belts, corporate human resources teams have been wise to leverage referrals, social networks, and their own web sites to attract talent and keep recruitment costs low.
Today, however, as the global economy continues its slow but steady recovery from the economic tempest and more companies consider their options for growth, we have arrived at a tipping point on the critical matter of executive talent.
Yes, there are still a great many highly experienced business executives who are, to put it diplomatically, 'in transition' or considering their next career move. And yes, many employers figure that so long as unemployment remains high and the flow of resumes from unemployed executives remains relatively high, they can continue to recruit effectively "on the cheap" and have their pick of the very best talent on the market.
Yet as businesses worldwide assess their options for growth, it's important to consider this important reality.
Human resources leaders would be wise to educate their internal clients and colleagues that there remains a distinct difference between the 'best available' candidates on the job market and the very best performers who've remained employed during the economic recession but whose resumes aren't in general circulation, who aren't candidates and who aren't even contemplating a career move.
Sure, companies can continue to keep recruitment costs down and keep the flow of candidates for management roles consistently high because of the sheer numbers of unemployed business managers out there. Companies can continue to troll social media sites for potential candidates. And they can continue to use other means to generate a high volume of interest in their job opportunities and fill them quickly because of the supply of candidates who are readily interested in them.
Keeping up with the competition, however, and empowering the kind of innovation required to transform business results, requires now more than any time in the past three years a deliberate review of recruitment practices to determine whether the yield is the best of the available talent pool, or truly the best at what they do who are by their nature far more difficult to identify and attract.
Beware the flat-lining recruitment budget as the global business agenda coalesces increasingly around growth and improved performance. The time to squeeze recruitment budgets - and compensation - is gone, at least for companies that know the competition for talent equates directly to the battle to open new markets, commercialise new products and win the loyalty of new consumers.
As demand for top executive talent intensifies, so too, must corporate focus on recruiting the best management talents wherever and in whatever station they may be found, not just the best available at any one time.