A few weeks ago, I met with a senior executive of a very large, very well-known company.*
It wasn't an interview.
It was an exploratory meeting set up by a mutual friend to give us the opportunity to meet each other, and to give me the opportunity to ask questions about the organization.
But I've rarely been so thoroughly impressed by an exploratory meeting.
If you've ever met me (or spent any time reading anything I write), you'll know I'm a fairly open person. If you care to learn anything about me, it's not that difficult: I have a complete LinkedIn profile, a detailed "About Me" section on my website, and a blog with over 300 entries. If sharing is caring, I care a lot.
Still, I was very surprised to discover this very busy person had clearly taken the time to learn about me prior to our call. They were familiar with my work history, and that I had four children, and they even referenced a few recent blog posts I had published.
Again, this wasn't an interview.
At least, it wasn't a formal interview.
You see, at one point during our conversation, this person told me something I hadn't known previously: their organization would proactively look to connect with "outside candidates" and maintain relationships with them as part of the company's succession planning process. By doing so, whenever a role within the organization opened up, they not only had internal candidates who could potentially fill the role, but also a roster of pre-vetted external individuals they could approach and consider.
That in itself is an extraordinary level of forward-thinking rarely seen in organizations today.
But do you know what's perhaps even more extraordinary?
The person with whom I was speaking didn't work for the company's human resources team.
Recruitment at this organization didn't appear to be the exclusive responsibility of a Talent Acquisition department. Instead, people managers at the company were constantly on the lookout for talent who could potentially join the organization one day. The company didn't wait until someone unexpectedly left to think about a replacement, they proactively looked for people they believed could add value and made it a point to stay in touch with them. (The person I met with suggested we reconnect once a quarter to simply touch base; it took me about a nanosecond to agree to a standing meeting in our calendars.)
Many organizations will claim some variation of "our people are our greatest asset."
But if that's the case, why don't more of them place a greater emphasis on actively managing that particular supply chain?
Top organizations that rely on their talent to succeed should be proactive about establishing and maintaining relationships with talented people.
That means everybody should be a recruiter.
And that they should always be recruiting.
If you truly believe people are your greatest asset, then doing anything less is irresponsibly short-sighted.
* To respect this person's privacy (and ensure they aren't suddenly flooded with emails from hopeful candidates), I'm using the gender-neutral pronouns "they" and "their" throughout this post and won't specify their name or company.