The Old War For The Top Talent Has Resurfaced


On October 12th, 2021, the second annual RPOA virtual conference, Recharge, Refocus, & Revitalize, was held. Zach Chertok (Columbia University Associate Professor & Research Manager) & IDC kicked off the conference with a powerful note titled the New Old War for the top talent.

Under "the old war for top talent has resurfaced," the key takeaways from Chertok's speech will be highlighted. The address started with Chertok pointing out that the factors that created the top war before the pandemic hadn't noticed any change post-pandemic or after already being for "one year" in the pandemic. According to him, the talent shortage that existed in 2019 still prevails. Also, the lack of talent bottlenecks is still the same. He further explained how Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) uses a strategic mindset to help attract & retain the talent organizations need.


According to Chertok, the pre-pandemic face was witnessing a white-hot war for the top talent as we are looking for new & better ways & strategies to hire the 100% best fits. It includes searching for the perfect candidate who matches the culture, enjoys the fastest learning curve, & who is ready to work out onboarding in less than a month.

Chertok further drew attention to the fact that between 2017 & 2020, talent organizations were living in a world where the search for "unicorn candidates" was preoccupying the strategies of the most talent acquisition (TA) leaders. This narrow focus of searching for the best candidate created a world of high expectations. And these high expectations brought the following results:

  • Ignorance about the internal conditions of the organization
  • Misalignment of sourcing skills along with talent
  • Blindness to the resources needed to help the talent meet the company's requirements, &
  • Widening of the gap in between the make-up of the workforce at that time & the one yet to come.

During the pre-pandemic period, all the signs showed that the talent market should become an employer market. However, Chertok observed that organizations' misunderstandings about the availability & the readiness of the talent were wiping out any chance for an employer-led market.

The Elephant In The Room

Making companies fail to address the elephant in the room. According to Chertok, companies were always on the verge of losing their aging baby boomers during the pre-pandemic period. However, one catastrophe after another forced baby boomers to keep on working. Chertok further talked about the survey he ran at the start of the COVID pandemic to check companies' preparedness for baby boomers leaving the workspace. His search resulted in more than three-quarters of companies weren't prepared for baby boomers leaving the workforce. 

Chertok also highlighted that even during the tech bubble burst, 9/11, and the recession of 2008, baby boomers had to continue working. And the companies never stopped considering the big day of generational shifts within the workforce. 

The Catastrophe Which Broke the Camel's Back

No matter the crisis, baby boomers kept working and helped companies continue working as well. Also, the organizations kept on putting off any plans that could solve the baby boomers impending exit from the workforce. 

However, with the coming of COVID 19. Chertok puts forward a question, "What happens when a lack of industry preparation for a generational shift & an industry standing lack of generational skills transfer meets a global health crisis?

According to Chertok, the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to deal with the generational shift in their labor force no matter if they were ready for it or not. He further pointed out that the industry experts knew about the baby boomers leaving the labor force within the next 2 to 5 years. However, the pandemic has made them deal with the issue now.

As a result of this disruption, baby boomers end up leaving the labor force earlier than anticipated. And this exit curated a flood of candidates within the talent market.

The Old War For Top Talent Resurfaces

Chertok stated that even after being for 1 year in the pandemic, the war for the top talent continues. He noted a few varied problems companies have to deal with, including baby boomers leaving the labor force earlier than anticipated. 

However, he explained that many of the same issues that existed before the pandemic & during the war for talent still exist. The following are some of the parallels, according to him:

  • High Expectations
  • Lack of business diversity
  • Technology programmed to match role-based needs

According to Chertok's observations, companies still hold high expectations regarding job role hiring. He stated that talent-based hiring is still a distant truth today as it was yesterday. Further, he said that companies' hiring process doesn't focus on a candidate's skills as this approach hasn't been well aligned along with framing the business plans that define HR objectives, at least not across all the industries & employers. He further talks about the specialization of skills in demand as the business plans focus on incremental innovation instead of industry expansion.

With the companies focusing on role-based hiring, they still need to program their recruitment strategies on role-based needs. According to Chertok, this approach excludes high skill quotients, supplemental abilities, and learning curve, & all of the things are what companies need to consider for a post-baby boomer labor force.

He also talked on the topic of how the lack of business diversity is the same as in the pre-pandemic period. As per his observations, job growth remains stilted due to specialization. Further, skill specialization has not only created consolidation of varied industries, but it has also erased the mid-market as a resource for hiring independent talent. He also stated a direct relationship between the absence of diverse strategies for sourcing hiring success & the lack of business diversity.

How Can RPOs Help?

RPOs (recruitment process outsourcing providers), as Chertok pointed out to the audience, play a significant role in the ongoing war for hiring the top talent. He highlighted the importance of RPOs' strategic partnership approach to a client's hiring situation to all of the RPOs in attendance. He suggested the following five ways for RPOs to improve their strategic value.

  • First and foremost, don't let technology take the place of human interaction in the hiring process. Individual recruiters can handle more requisitions at any time, thanks to technology, which gives them more flexibility.
  • Second, assist your clients in making more innovative use of technology. RPOs & their clients can use technology "based on what the market is telling both [the RPO and its client] inside and outside the organization."
  • Third, RPOs should use positive and negative results to "improve the process, amend the strategy, and build the partnerships that will always facilitate a talent supply, even if that supply comes from changing sources."

"RPOs' best hedge against failure is to fail often and keep improving." RPOs should embrace failures. 


RPO service providers can help you stay ahead in the game with the resurfacing of the old war for the top talent. Having the capabilities of hiring & retaining the best talent, here, we are inviting you to start your search with E-Global Soft Services.