Robbing the Talent Cradle

Amanda Lewis, an Analyst at respected Human Capital Institute, a consulting firm, wrote a blog article about the new Recruiter 2.0. In the article she poses the question “When is it too early to start looking for tomorrow’s leaders?” 

Here is her article:
The military has the ability to recruit public high school students for the armed services because of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. I’m not suggesting that we start hiring straight out of high school or even current college students, of course, but this made me start thinking about the branding that occurs before and during military recruitment. This practice is making the actual act of recruiting attractive to a younger generation.

In a recent blog post I talked about the new recruiter, Recruiter 2.0—who is part recruiter, part marketer who understands the need to create an engaged brand to attract, retain and engage candidates. So how early is too early to start? When you were a child what did you want to be and why? Most likely, your job of choice seemed super-cool. You probably saw a movie or TV show or heard stories about someone in a given profession and wanted to be just like them when you grew up. How can we make corporate jobs seem just as appealing as being an Astronaut?

The use of the internet and social media forums is helping the cause. They are enabling recruiters access to a younger generation who may have an idea of what career they would like to start and grow. So when do we start? Is a “HR Professional Dora Doll” out of the question?

Based on the revelations in Amanda’s article, career choice is approaching the status of buying a car. Personal preference is part of the consideration – or is it? If marketers can manipulate anyone into buying a certain car, companies and recruiters can certainly manipulate students to “want” a certain career. The military has been doing it for years. The only thing holding back companies is the lack of aligned marketing synergy around a particular career.

For example, let’s say Microsoft and Apple decided to put marketing dollars together to create an attraction around the Systems Architect Engineer career. Or perhaps Mobil/Exxon decided to pay the entire tuition for anyone who signs up to major in Petroleum Engineering.  Is that a good thing, bad thing or a non event? With the average tenure in a job and company trending downward at epidemic speed, would “Recruiting 2.0” be setting up even more young adults for low job satisfaction and mediocrity of life?

The question I’m raising is: Does it make more sense for the person to control their own destiny, including taking an assertive approach to investigating and choosing the career they want or simply dance to the song that sounds the best in the moment? One way generates personal accountability, intention and high probability of success and happiness and the other promotes corporate need.

About the Author: Carl Nielson is an executive coach, organizational development consultant and career coach. He developed the program, Career Coaching for Students™ for high school students in 2005 which happens to align with 100% of recently published GWU Freshman Transition Initiative guidelines. A college version was just released in June of 2010.

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