Evolving Just In Time Talent

If you’re in the talent/recruitment game you are well aware it’s a Just In Time (JIT) game.  Has been that way since we were called the Personnel Dept. and will be that way for the foreseeable future.  Executives and hiring managers hate this about recruitment.  They think we should have this ‘pipeline’ of great candidates waiting to come into our organizations the moment we lose someone, or have a need to add additional talent.  But, we all know that while in theory that sounds really nice, it’s not reality.

There is a faction that tries to sell that this can happen, through things like talent communities, etc. Again, the reality is this is these types of things are just a show for our organizations, they really don’t do what our hiring managers are desiring.  Having a pipeline of candidates, who have yet to be screened, interviewed and offered (i.e., your talent community) is still just JIT talent.  Maybe a little quicker, but still far short of expectations from hiring managers.

So, how to you get On Demand Talent?

Eventually, we are going to see companies take a page from the contracting talent world and they are going to ‘bench’ their next hires.  In contracting great talent gets ‘benched’ in between their projects.  They actually get paid not to work, but be ready for the next major project they’ll be working on.  Could be a week, could be a month.  Corporate benching will be slightly different. Let me give you a peak of how corporations will eventually evolve JIT Talent to meet the expectations of their executive teams and hiring managers:

1. Active sourcing of top talent, even when they don’t have an opening.

2. Full screen, interview process and selection decision of this talent, even without an opening.

3. Contractual offer and benching bonus to be the next hire for a certain position.

What does all that mean?

Let’s say you have a group of Engineers.  You know at some point, based on your annual metrics over the last 10 years, you will lose an engineer to turnover within the next 12 months.  It’s critical that when you lose that engineer you have a replacement quickly, but the current cycle time of sourcing, interviewing and accepting is taking 8-12 weeks for your critical skill set.  Sound familiar?  Your hiring managers expectation is you’ll have someone in 2 weeks.  Which is impossible in your current process.

An On Demand Talent model would have you, without an actual opening, go through your full engineering search. Find that person who is right for you and extend them a hiring contract for the next available opening in the next 12 months. For accepting this ‘spot’ on your depth chart, you will pay this candidate a bonus.  Could be a one time bonus, could be a monthly bonus.  In the mean time, they continue to work at their current position and company, and wait.  When they get the call, contractually they have two weeks to give notice and start.

You meet the expectation of your organization, you have succession ready to go, you just created a better talent demand system.  Yes, it costs money.  But, so does having an opening in your organization for two to three to six months, while projects sit idle.

What do you think?  Blow holes in my theory of On Demand Talent in the comments.


9 thoughts on “Evolving Just In Time Talent

  1. I pitched the idea of talent streaming, from the Talent Fix to my, and he loved it! I am now tasked with creating a process for JIT recruiting. Are there any significant instances where it has been implemented successfully?

    • Yep – happens quite frequently in IT. The real issue isn’t getting it set up, it’s getting an organization to fund it and pay for it. The reality is, having JIT inventory of talent costs money.

      • Thank you, Tim. I appreciate your response and candor in what is required for JIT inventory. It is definitely an idea worth looking at more closely, and I will keep noodling around it.

  2. A large, external talent pool, particularly for talent that a company doesn’t need all the time, and fully vetting these resources in advance makes a lot of sense. The % of contractors and consultants in the workforce continues to increase, and much of this population already is used to working for different organizations on an as needed basis. Whether people are paid a bonus or not, companies will come up with sufficiently attractive offers to find people (or agencies) that will provide talent JIT. Accenture already uses contracts to lock up talent in case, for example, they win a particular proposal and need more bodies or a special expertise.

    One of the keys to making a system like this work is fully evaluating the work in advance, e.g. competencies required, experience, performance metrics, and job characteristics that impact whether someone will like the work. Obviously we need to be able to then have the tools to find people and evaluate the match, but again, much of this can be done in advance. Then, it is important to maintain a close, on-going relationship with external pool members.

    External talent pools are discussed in some detail in the 2012 AMACOM book, “Lean but Agile…”

  3. Nice theory. What will it do to recruiting long-term? I take your retainer bonus, but keep my current job for lets say 8 months. What a terrible 8 months I’m having now. any day could be the day I get the call to come work for you. I’m dying to tell my co-workers I could be leaving any day. I’m less and less committed to my work at my current job because I have one foot out the door anyway.
    We don’t care so much when its the other organization dealing with the problem, but what about when other companies start paying my people retainer fees and their performance steadily declines while they work for me and wait for the call from the other employer?
    Like I said nice theory… sounds nice anyway… isn’t it just a contingent offer? That process already exists.

    • Dear Hot Pockets,

      Don’t hate! This doesn’t exist already. Contingent is I’ll accept contingent upon you give me an offer and a start date. This is I’ll accept, because I love your company and position and this is where I want to be long term, I’m willing to wait until you have it open.

      But, I agree, it’s not perfect, just an idea. I think I’d be willing to wait for the right position, right company, even if it took some time.


  4. OK, I’ll bite.

    Let’s say you bench the talent and pay them a monthly “retainer” to be in this pool. Then when the time comes for them to jump, they say no, or get a counteroffer? How do you get the $$ back?

    • John,

      It’s part of your contract you have them sign, if they decide not to come, they have to pay back the retainer, bonus, whatever you want to call it.


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