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I regularly read recruitment industry vendor research, articles and white papers. The quality of these reports varies greatly, as I have blogged about previously.

The most recent one I cast my eyes over was the LinkedIn Talent Solutions Australia Recruiting Trends 2017: What you need to know about the state of talent acquisition. The fine print tells me that “This report is based on the survey responses of over 150 corporate talent acquisition leaders across Australia. All respondents are at the manager level or higher.” 

To be frank, a survey size of 150 for a company with LinkedIn’s product reach seems pretty dismal. Given the relevance of the topic to LinkedIn’s core business, I would have thought surveying 300 people would be a minimum requirement.

Anyway, I digress.

What caught my eye was on page 6: Australian and talent leaders say that Talent is #1 priority at their company (79%). 

Excuse me? What? You have to be joking!

Does any person with any clue about business life in Australia seriously believe that four out of every five companies in Australia prioritise talent ahead of everything else? In other words sales, R&D, marketing, IT and clients all have a lower priority than talent in 790 out of every 1000 companies in this country.

It’s simply not possible to take this statement seriously.

Ask a hundred experienced recruiters randomly chosen anywhere in the country whether they agree that four out of five companies they deal with prioritise talent ahead of everything else. I guarantee that you would be lucky to find one person who would agree.

I can only assume that when LinkedIn surveyed these 150 recruitment leaders they were knee-deep in vacancies with hiring managers breathing down their neck telling them how critical ‘talent’ was to their department; and you better fill my job quick smart.

What would signal that a company genuinely places talent at the top of their priority list?

Here are just six things to look for:

  1. talent strategy; how can any company seriously claim to put talent as their #1 priority when they don’t have a talent strategy? I promise you, only a tiny percentage of Australian companies have something you could recognise as a talent strategy.
  2. An agreed competency framework; from which the company both assesses their current talent and uses as the core of their assessment process when recruiting new staff. In my experience only a small minority of companies do this.
  3. Development programs, rather than training sessions, being an ongoing feature of employee development.
  4. culture of learning which is demonstrated across all levels of the company in which failures and mistakes are reviewed as an opportunity to learn rather than an opportunity to apportion blame, make excuses and pass the buck.
  5. recruitment process that is highly effective in recruiting high calibre candidates quickly.
  6. performance management process that ensures all employees have clearly established performance expectations and are regularly provided with accurate, honest and fair feedback as to their progress against these expectations.

I don’t expect, nor do I recommend, that Australian companies prioritise talent ahead of everything else. However I certainly believe that talent needs to be in the top three or four priorities.

To report that 79 per cent of companies have talent as their number one priority is just laughable, and palpably false; as any review of the evidence would quickly confirm. Why didn’t LinkedIn ask for evidence of talent being the #1 priority at the respondent’s company? Surely that’s an obvious question to ask and forces the respondent to justify their answer, as well as providing insight into the talent practises of that company.

I have higher expectations of LinkedIn’s research methodology and report writing standards than what they have offered us here.

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All of this, including Ross' rhetorical questions, can be looked at in the context that LinkedIn still need to set themselves up as the go-to place for people looking for new jobs. They need new sign-ups to drive page views to drive what they charge for access to LinkedIn Recruiter and job postings in general.

I have a friend who's in the unfortunate situation of needing to find a new job, at short notice, for the first time in a long time. Her first question was, do I need to be on LinkedIn?

She didn't know *why* she needed to be on LinkedIn (she wasn't previously) or how it would help her find something, she just assumed that's how things work these days.

I'd argue strongly that it isn't how things work – maybe part of the approach, but not the panacea.

But LinkedIn do need it to be the panacea, because they need more people like my friend who just think they need to sign up, without actually knowing why!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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