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How to attract the talent that your business needs

Is the person with the skills your firm needs already an employee? Can your staff gain those skills? Is outside recruitment the only option? Here’s how to work it out.

September 03, 2019

by Cynthia Hansen, originally published in Monocle

Talented, talentless, a rising talent. As the lines between industries and sectors blur, talent becomes fluid. A top coder will be pursued by both banks and technology firms. An engineer might be snapped up by a logistics firm. Where do you find them? From whom do you lure them away?

As companies go global they struggle to navigate the complexities of finding and attracting talent. Moving off your home turf into new markets means facing unfamiliar market conditions, new labour and tax regulations, different cultural norms and language barriers. Do you retreat to what you know by bringing your own staff and imposing your own methods (and possibly bias)? Or do you leave yourself at the mercy of the market? The answer is neither and both.

Tomorrow’s competitive company won’t be staffed with drag-and-drop talent. Instead it requires a dynamic mix that allows flexibility and quick scaling, builds bench depth, provides career paths and enriches communities. This is the Adecco Group’s Triple B talent framework: Bring, Buy and Build. Think of Triple B as a litmus test, a set of questions that help you determine the right mix whether you are a company, government or organisation. First, be clear what you are trying to achieve. Then define the kind of operations required and the timeframe. To ensure a strategic choice and not a knee-jerk response, try this simple approach.

Bring
If the skills are too specialised to exist in the local market and there isn’t a critical mass of possible trainees, consider bringing your own staff. Do you have a short timeline? Are labour costs prohibitive? Is there a lack of training capacity? Bring creates limited value for the local labour market, however.

Buy
The skills you need might already exist – but if they do you could face fierce competition. Why would candidates choose you over a competitor? Buy might offer more stability but comes with broader obligations.

Build
If local candidates do not have what you need but are trainable or reskillable, you might consider Build. How quickly can they be skilled up?Do they have the propensity to learn the skills you need? Will they be valuable to you in the future? Build is a long-term investment and might require interim solutions. It adds the most enrichment to the labour pool. So now you have your mix and the market shifts. With a dynamic workforce you can attract, develop and retain the talent you need. — (M)


Cynthia Hansen heads the Adecco Group Foundation, the social impact arm of the Adecco Group, the world’s leading HR-solutions firm. The foundation is dedicated to driving innovation in the future of work.


The Adecco Group Foundation is changing the way society thinks about human potential. We are not a grant-giving foundation, but rather a social innovation lab, incubating and accelerating new solutions in the world of work.