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Forget the War for Talent; Now It's the Fight for Fit

Elyse Mayer
May 4 ․ 7 min read

Yes, we all know about the War for Talent. And nearly everyone in talent acquisition (aptly led by Josh Bersin) has conceded that they lost, and the talent won.

Yet every organization is still hiring. Every organization still needs people to grow and thrive. And people still need jobs, even if they are “in control” and “have more options.”

The war isn’t —and will never be — over (as long as we don’t come upon a Walking Dead era). Because realistically, even with low unemployment and increasingly unfilled jobs, good talent is still going unnoticed and unreached, and perhaps most importantly, unhappy. Just ask the veterans transitioning into the civilian world; the hourly workers vying for an opportunity with a brand that will invest in their growth; the recent grads still taking internships; the thousands of people who don’t hear back from 90% of the companies they were interested in … ever.


Winning the fight for fit.

If you ask the talent, I think they’d tell you that they’re losing, too.

So how does the world of work ever become a win-win? How do talent acquisition teams dust off their shoes and get back in the game?

I have a suggestion: Let’s forget about the War for Talent. Instead, let’s focus on the Fight for Fit.

When organizations and people are driven by finding the right fit, everyone wins. It unlocks limitless potential — like increased productivity, longer retention, more referrals, greater brand loyalty, higher profits and happier people. And it helps ensure that everyone — top to bottom — is united around a shared goal and aligned purpose, whatever that purpose may be. Tell me an organization or a person who wouldn’t want that.

To win the Fight for Fit, business leaders, not just talent acquisition leaders, need to:

Lead with their brand. A job title is a job title is a job title. Tracey Parsons, founder of Parsons Strategic Consulting, said, “People come for the brand, they apply for the job and they stay for the culture.” If there’s one commonality behind the workforce today, it’s that beyond demographic or experience-level or generation, people are looking to work with a company and people they believe in and care about. That is your brand — and delivering on it drives fit, which drives retention and advocacy.

Proactively build relationships. This is where both organizations and people need the most work — making connections and learning about each other over time. On both sides, making the right hire and choosing the right company to work for can drastically improve business results/success — and personal and professional happiness. We need to be proactive, not reactive. We need to make connections and interactions, not force transactions. We need to build relationships with each other ahead of the need for work.

Glean insights from data to act. To find the right fit, we need to figure out what target audiences are looking for and then dive even deeper into what high-priority leads are looking for. To do that, your organization should be tracking every candidate’s unique journey with your brand across every potential channel. With every interaction, you learn more about each person — their interests, their skills and their actions. Data alone is useless — it’s turning that into insights you can use to make positive, impactful changes that drive right-fit hires.



Why not hire with purpose?

Is there a perfect equation to find, attract and hire the right-fit people every single time?

No. The “perfect” equation is one that’s unique to your business goals, your strategy and the people you need to hire. It takes work and marketing and branding and insight and conversations and change. It takes mistakes and lessons learned and, frankly, hiring the wrong-fit people a few times.

When we — CEOs, talent acquisition leaders, recruiters, job seekers, people — all start being a little more authentic about who we are, what we’re looking for, and how we want to work, we’ll all be better off. We’ll turn our attention to matching the right people with the right opportunities, instead of reactively forcing square pegs into round holes because we feel pressured to do something.

We’ll hire — and seek — with purpose. And we’ll feel empowered to fight for fit, instead of waging an unwinnable war.