Battle for talent: business is booming

by 06 Oct 2011

In the current economic climate organisations cannot afford to relax their search for talent - it's a case of secure the best and brightest, or have yours taken.

Speaking to Human Capital, Jason Johnson, managing partner of executive search firm Johnson, and Asia Pacific Vice Chairman of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), said the days of securing talent 'in the dead of night' is gone.

AESC is the worldwide professional association for executive search firms - also known as executive recruiters or headhunters - and promotes its use of professional standards in the executive search process, as well as using a code of ethics and professional practice guidelines.

"We're very proud of what we do and it's a highly legitimate process. [Securing the best executives] is at the core of the strategic plans of our clients and when we make calls, we're being very honest and open about the nature of the role," Johnson said.

Johnson said every board and listed company should be thinking about succession planning, and if they're not, they simply not prepared.

He added that Johnson has just experienced the best quarter in the last six years, and said their company's performance is an indication of the sheer competitive tension in the market. The resources and mining sector is currently the hottest industry for talent recruitment in Australia, he noted.

More than $74bn has been committed to major mining projects across the country, and with the scale of capital expenditure, Johnson said there are simply not enough skilled people to manage and work on those projects.

The current resources boom is indeed unprecedented in Australia. "One of those projects alone would have been a remarkable strain on skilled labour, but with so many running concurrently it is an unimaginable strain on the skilled labour sector," Johnson said.

In turn, business is also booming for headhunters. However, they have a relatively small pool of talent compared to the needs of the industry. Johnson said there are nowhere near enough people to facilitate the mining projects and his firm has even recruited people from as far afield as Mongolia and Russia.

The message from the industry is clear: it is critical to have super performers in the current economic market.

"Organisations simply can't afford to have a member of their executive team not pulling their weight and performing at the highest level," Johnson said.

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