Magazine article Workforce

Your Next Title-Talent Officer?

Magazine article Workforce

Your Next Title-Talent Officer?

Article excerpt

Instead of being your company's HR director or staffing manager, how about being your firm's next "talent officer?" Does it sound a little out there? Sure it does. But then again, so did human resources in the late 1970s.

Talent officer seems to be the new moniker, intended to reflect HR's pressing task of filling firms with bankable human capital. In fact,, an e-recruiting application service provider based in Austin, Texas, just held the first-ever Talent Officer Conference in June. At the invitation-only conference, executive-level HR professionals met to focus on dynamic shifts in the way employees are attracted, recruited, and retained in an increasingly competitive job market. According to, "These shifts include advancements in recruitment technology and the emergence of a new category of executive leadership: the talent of ficer." In fact, HR guru John Sullivan (who heads the HR management program at San Francisco State University) signed on as chief talent officer in January with Agilent Technologies, Inc., a Hewlett-Packard spinoff based in the Silicon Valley.

Although it's a new title to most, an informal poll of HR professionals shows that it may have kicking around for awhile-but perhaps more in the technology arena. "This title has been around in the high-tech world for at least six years," says Patricia Frame of Strategies for Human Resources, based in Alexandria, Virginia. "I know. I interviewed for such a position [back] then."

A quick search of Milwaukee-based www shows no current listings with the talent officer title, although you can get a "staffing VP job or a strategic staffing manager" position.

Some like it. Some don't

Do HR managers like the direction in which this new title would take them? "Let me see," says one HR manager, anonymously. "I don't think so."

Adds Randy Britton, director of employee relations at Regional Medical Center at Memphis: "Reminds me of a company (which shall remain nameless) that advertised a trainer job with us a few years ago. They were holding `auditions,' not interviews, for the job, and invited candidates to submit their videos or portfolios, not their resumes." He wonders whether the trend is related to the circulation of management ideas from the Walt Disney organization, which refers to employees as "cast members." "It seems that if the change in language is tied to some specific difference in the working environment, such as a different industry, a different culture or management style, etc., the difference in language could be meaningful," says Britton. "On the other hand, if the workplace operates just like any other work place, [this title is] probably worse than `a rose by any other name. …

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