Strategic Approach to Recruiting

Ottawa Citizen Online Karyn Standen – Monday, September 14, 1998

The latest technology skills recruiting company to open in Ottawa is based on a concept that at least one human resource expert says is overdue.

TalentLab.com™ was founded last month by Alan Kearns, a human resource consultant formerly with the Ottawa recruiting firm, The Employment Solution.

So far, TalentLab.com, which is ideally set up in the Newbridge office complex on March Road, remains a one-person operation. But Mr. Kearns, 34, has lofty ambitions.

"I see career management as a long-term view," he said. "My goal is to become an HR partner to my clients. That means I want to move to a strategic approach in technology recruitment rather than a reactive approach.

"My first reaction is ‘Amen to that,’ " commented Michael Brennan, executive director of the Canadian Technology Human Resource Board (CTHRB), when he heard of TalentLab.com™Õs goal.

"The company that plans ahead for the people they need can get a head start on their competition," he said.

"You can make your presence felt among first-year university students I rather than fourth year, thus improving your campus recruiting chances. You can observe hiring trends like salaries and benefits, and what that can mean to overall budgeting for your company.

The CTHRB is a partnership between technology employers, labour groups and educators that was set up three years ago to help resolve high-tech employment issues.

As an example of the lack of human resource planning among technology companies, Mr. Brennan cited a CTHRB survey, completed in April, of 850 small to medium Canadian high-tech firms. Mr. Brennan said the survey found that "90 per cent of the companies did not have a long-term HR strategy.

"They can get into trouble quickly if they do not have the right people," he added.

Without long-term planning, technology companies may find they have to resort to what Mr. Brennan termed "quick-hires," in which employers try to find workers as fast as possible to fill immediate staffing shortages.

"But in a quick-hire situation, it’s tough to find the perfect person, and employers have to make compromises if they make a quick hire," Mr. Brennan said. "If you hire strategically, though, and identify the competencies you need, you are afforded the opportunity to look around the world, if need be, for the right person."

Mr. Kearns said TalentLab.com™ intends to help technology companies avoid quick-hire situations by developing long-term partnerships with both employers and job-seekers. While he plans to offer employers several qualified candidates from which to choose, he says he won’t shirk from recommending to job-hunters that they not apply for if they’re not entirely suited to the job, even if they appear qualified and interested in the position.

"Is the company interested in a long-term hire, a good fit, or do they just want to get a body on board?" he replied when asked how companies might respond to a recruiter turning away candidates.

Ottawa already has recruitment firms supplying the technology industry, including The Employment Solution, and CareerBridge Corp.

Mr. Brennan said TalentLab.com will likely appeal to "two-to-three-year-old, mid-size companies that don’t have a lot of HR expertise."

For financing, Mr. Kearns is using his own savings and a line of credit at the Bank of Montreal. He plans to have "five or six employees by Christmas."