Stop Saying “War For Talent”

This Sunday, I will be attending the 101st running of  the Indianapolis 500. The event takes place the Sunday before Memorial Day, every year, and a big percentage of the pre-race ceremonies are dedicated to the men and women of the United States military. We honor those who gave their lives for this country, and for many other countries, they have defended. The rendition of “Taps” is chilling and it brings tears to my eyes every time I experience it. As I’m thinking of all those who died in the name of freedom, in current and past wars, at no time am I thinking about HR and recruiting professionals who risk their lives in the cubicles of Corporate America. So let’s all just stop using the phrase, “War for Talent” when describing the task of recruiting and talent acquisition.

Spending all day on LinkedIn or mastering that perfect Boolean search string is no comparison to the stresses and horrors of war. Our veterans are returning home with alarming cases of PTSD and mental health issues from their experiences in combat. I cannot even begin to remotely relate to the issues our veterans are facing every day. Recruiting and HR functions can’t either.

HR and Recruiting professional’s toughest day is when their irrelevant “time-to-fill” numbers exceed their self-imposed targets. A bad day in the recruiting chair is when the internet goes down. A tough day at the office for an HR person is when that “Purple Unicorn-like Squirrel” finds another nut and buries you. This is not war.

The suicide rates for veterans are alarming. Finding the appropriate types of assistance and quality medical care has proven to be difficult. Finding employment after time in the service can be challenging. Veterans are finding it difficult to convince corporations to understand how their skills can translate into the corporate world. Some organizations are doing this very well. Many are not. We need to try harder.

A challenge for HR and recruiting pros is deciding which bar to attend for Happy Hour. The biggest challenge includes finding a phone directory or an underground Java developer user group to chafe.

I love my job in HR and really enjoyed my time as an agency recruiter many years ago. The adrenaline rush of finding the perfect candidate for the hard to fill role was exhilarating. But it is nothing compared to the immense stress and pressures our service men and women feel every day, both on and off the battlefield.

With Memorial Day approaching, we honor the men and women in the Armed Forces who gave their lives so we could have the freedoms to sit on the internet all day to try to find people jobs. Let’s not trivialize this by comparing our relatively easy recruiting and HR jobs to war.


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