War for talent after COVID-19

Politicians often use “big words” in their speeches. Whenever a change in society requires a bit more efforts, they call it a battle, and in times of emergency, they are immediately at war with something or someone. Well, this very political rhetoric has moved into the business world, so we in HR ended up with the WAR FOR TALENTS!  


Wars always have unforeseen consequences, however, this “war for talent” has given birth to a variety of management models and has given them fancy names such as corporate culture, employer branding, people analytics, candidate experience …. All with the aim to attract and retain the best talents.  

One would say that the battles in this war happen between companies, either the big ones where “everyone wants to work”, or the small and medium ones with fantastic ideas and products, which,  with the help of the best talents, could make even a global breakthrough.  


Still, I get the impression that the “war for talent” is going on between employers and candidates.  

Here are a few thoughts on why I think so…  

  • Corporate culture - corporate culture is something that should be consistent without compromise. Even in organizations that are known for “strong corporate culture”, they tend to compromise on corporate culture breaches by justifying it with sentences like “we know he’s a jerk to people, but he’s great for business.”  
  • Employer branding - An excellent concept that combines marketing, human resources, and internal communications. Despite the fantastic examples, most of these strategies are, in my opinion, inward-looking and companies talk exclusively about themselves, without linking the messages to the talents they desire. There are too many “stick and carrot” approaches, for my taste.  
  • Candidates experience - with all the technology at hand, we still have an extremely high percentage of candidates who do not receive any feedback on the outcome of the recruitment process. This may seem like a detail, but it indicates a short-term approach to talent. Some profiles may not suit us this time, but we may need them in the future. It will be much harder to involve a candidate in the new selection process if you haven’t provided feedback to him/her earlier.  


What will be the impact of the COVID-19 crisis?  


We can hear everywhere that after this crisis, nothing will be the same as before. Is it really a turning point that will change the world from the root and for the better? I honestly DON’T KNOW. My heart tells me to hope, and my brain tells me to doubt.  


  • Business - the damage is already huge! Or is it? The world economy has been surviving on virtual money for decades, so if you look at it from that angle, this may be just a reset, but not damage. I DO NOT KNOW. Anyway, companies will reorganize, optimize, digitize, transform … whatever it takes to save the capital. Some will cease to exist for one reason or another.  
  • Individual - it is expected that an individual will come out of this crisis with more empathy, more humane, oriented not only to himself but also to the well-being of the community. Will it be so? I DON’T KNOW.  


One day, when the end of the “war with the virus” is declared on a global level, an individual will have only one guaranteed resource at his disposal – SELF. He/she will need to analyze that new world and the environment he/she is in. Like companies that are about to transform, the individuals will have to rediscover their purpose in this new world, (re)define goals and priorities, and allocate resources. In other words, we will either redesign the existing one, or create our LIFE PROJECT from the ground up. Work is just one segment of that project.  


Although I have been talking about life project for several years in my courses for recruiters in a slightly different way, I must thank Faber Zapata Agudelo. for this great phrase I recently came across translating a text for the PDA Blog.  


An individual’s LIFE PROJECT becomes the key for the future of talent recruitment. Why?  


We can do anything with our employer branding campaigns to attract the best talents, we can have a fantastic corporate culture and working environment, we can provide a fantastic experience for candidates… YES, WE CAN! We can identify all the competencies we need, all the behavioral characteristics, all the potentials of the candidates. YES, WE CAN, and we have the tools to do that.  

However, if we fail to prove and assure candidates that all we have to offer is helping them achieve his/her life project, and not just our business goals, that talent will most likely not be part of our organization.  

Look for opportunities to find a place for your corporate culture and your brand in the life projects of your candidates. Look for the similarities between your “corporate project” and the candidate’s life projects, as this will allow both projects to be successful, in parallel.   


If you keep looking for “best fit” candidates, your corporate project is perceived as more important, and one will never allow anything to push his/her own life to the back.   


Life projects existed before the COVID crisis. Now they just became more important.