Attracting Talent: When you want Dolphins, not Sharks!

The 18th Annual Global CEO Survey-2015, by PwC reveals that a whopping 73% of CEOs worldwide are increasingly worried about finding the right talent.

Why, despite all the modern day technology and social tools, is finding talent still such a widespread worry?

The answer to that is superbly articulated in this LinkedIn post, by Adil Malia, a Global People Practitioner and Seasoned Industry Veteran. He writes:

” Talent search often fails not because there is shortage of talent in the market but more often than not, by deficiencies in the search process adopted by the Talent Acquisition team.
We do not segment the talent market well or have insights into the EVPs that would be perceived as being attractive by available talent in that segment. We also do not suitably position our Employer Brand attractively.
Our ‘go to’ talent market is outdated. Generally, it is a mindless continuation of the old ways.
How then in the new volatile and demanding markets do we imagine to succeed with such shoddy & outdated practices ?  Talent search is a serious activity & it demands dynamic attention.” 

The analogy that comes to mind is that Talent Search is a lot like Deep Sea Fishing, and very little has changed for both over a few hundred years.

While the tools (boats, nets & automation) have become more, and more sophisticated, the old way of “trawling” remains quite the same.
Trawling is a method by which fishing boats round up everything, that happens to cross their path in that moment, by dragging big nets, or “trawls”, across the ocean waters.

Trawler Fishing

Trawler Fishing

Great method, if what is caught is of no consequence and the goal is a quick catch of just about anything.
However, if the goal is specific then trawling, is not only wasteful with alarming environmental consequences, it also turns out to be just a game of pure luck & chance.

Using Dolphins as a metaphor for the talent of choice Vs. it’s look-alike, the Shark:

At first glance both have grey, torpedo shaped bodies and a dorsal fin that protrudes from the water surface. 

Shark or Dolphin?

The similarity ends there….

Sharks are fish and are aggressive, cold blooded predators that usually prefer to hunt alone.
Dolphins are mammals and are agile, intelligent and warm blooded social creatures that synchronise movements to hunt in teams. The sort of ‘talent’ everyone wants.

Trawling is easily dodged by intelligent agile Dolphins and what ends up in the nets are more often than not, Sharks.
If a Dolphin is the real goal then even the most gentle specimen, of it’s look alike the Shark, is still just a Shark.

How then in Shark infested oceans, do you attract Dolphins?

The answer is quite simple. Ask children who watch National Geographic or Discovery Channel on TV or have seen the Hollywood blockbuster “Free Willy”! They will tell you that Dolphins (and Whales) navigate and communicate by emitting series of sounds which are frequently termed as ‘songs’ that are heard miles away by their own kind. The scientific term for this is “Echolocation”.

Marine researchers playback recorded sounds, often inaudible to humans, of the species to be observed and they turn up –  attracted by their “song”.

Hello, is it me you're looking for?

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

Taking the Dolphin-Shark fishing analogy back to Talent Search of the not-fishy kind.

The equivalent of “Echolocation” for humans is Storytelling.
Stories or narratives, predate writing and have been used in every culture, ancient and contemporary, around the world, to inspire and move people.

Stories when crafted well, communicate a narrative of who we are and the future we’re trying to build.
Stories are the “songs” that transmit what we believe and serve to attract those with shared beliefs.


Storytelling helps to hire people who believe what you believe.
Storytelling in place of trawling, can serve to build a better world and help to turn that CEO frown, upside down!

Storytelling is an art-form without any scientific formula …. because if it had a formula, then every book, movie and marketing campaign would be a roaring success. Storytelling is hard and that’s the opportunity!!!

How then can we learn the art of storytelling and deploy it for  attracting “Dolphin” talent?
That’s a whole another story for a different day and post!

PS: Of the two fin pictures in this post, which one is the Dolphin?

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