Monday, May 01, 2006

The Future of Recruiting...Vindication!

In an earlier post, I had a theory: recruiting organizations may find themselves shifting more and more to where modern sports organizations are today.

Much like how scouts are tracking athletes at early ages (in some cases, reports have indicated that they've gone to middle school games), my assertion was that organizations in the business world would find themselves keeping track of talent much earlier than they're historically used to.

Having said that, I now have an example of how this trend is playing out!!

Today, as I opened my issue of BusinessWeek, I came upon an article about Merrill Lynch's recruiting strategy. Since I can't provide a link to this article (you have to be a subscriber), I'll offer a brief snippet from the article:

The Draft Picks Get Younger
Merrill Lynch is identifying the best recruits as early as freshman year

Last fall an intense competition swept a half-dozen U.S. college campuses. Four-person teams of undergraduate business majors battled to generate the biggest returns -- using "fantasy funds," not real money. It was all part of a "portfolio challenge" game designed by Merrill Lynch Inc. (MER ) to help identify young talent for analyst jobs. Winners pocketed $9,000 in cash prizes and other giveaways. More important, the finalists nabbed a coveted place at the top of Merrill's callback list.

Such games might seem unusual to anyone who graduated from college more than a few years ago. But in the increasingly competitive war for fresh talent, a small group of companies including Merrill, PricewaterhouseCoopers, L'Oréal, and others is changing the rules. A growing economy and the need to ramp up hiring quickly and cheaply have spurred recruiters to bypass MBA programs and hire the bulk of their new people straight out of college.

t's an increasingly common strategy. In 2004-05, according to BusinessWeek's survey of corporate recruiters, 28% of new entry-level hires were former interns, up from 26% the year before, and one out of four reported that at least half of all new hires came from the intern pool. What sets Merrill apart is its willingness to hire younger interns, including freshmen. Says Elton Ndoma-Ogar, head of diversity campus recruiting: "We're trying to build relationships earlier and turn these young people into professionals." - By Bremen Leak, with Lindsey Gerdes in New York

What's even more wild about this article? It also mentions another theory of mine: that organizations will have to increasingly rely on younger talent to help lead them into the future as the Baby Boom generation gets closer to retirement.

Call me crazy, but I think Merrill Lynch is onto something BIG. At the least, they're trying innovative solutions in order to stay relevant. What's your organization doing?

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