As we arrive at the last part in our four-part series about what I’ve learned about global recruiting from leading recruiting executives, we focus on the last core challenge: responding to current and evolving skill shortages. Skill availability is a critical issue for recruiting, and an issue that many CEOs the world over are concerned with. As one recruiting executive put it:

“Talent management and long-range planning is squarely a CEO and board issue.”

Leading recruiting executives are responding in two ways: (1) optimizing their direct sourcing capability to more effectively compete for scarce, hard to find talent, and (2) strengthening partnerships with universities.

Organizations are focused on improving their direct sourcing capability by building out the skills of their teams, ensuring they are equipped to effectively use social media platforms, and by looking to non-traditional sources for talent. Several executives speak of how they are recruiting at western universities for Chinese nationals for jobs in China. This is an increasingly common practice amongst organizations as they work to compete against strengthening domestic players in emerging markets.

There is broad concern amongst our best recruiting organizations with regards to the longer-term supply of talent, and their ability to impact it. As one executive said:

“The longer-term supply of talent issues is largely about the educational system. What are companies doing to influence the educational infrastructure? In most cases, nothing.”

Nevertheless, many of our member organizations have specific collaborations with universities. Whilst typically relatively small scale and focused, in many cases they are yielding good results. Several of our Technology organizations speak of how they have funded research labs, are helping universities design curriculum, and are sending their staff in to collaborate with lecturers and students.

Several organizations stopped their university hiring programs in 2009 and/or 2010 as their budgets and hiring needs were curtailed. A certain group of executives agree that campus recruiting is tough and highly competitive, as one of them put it:

“Campus recruiting is a blood sport.”

And it’s not just tough on campus at western universities; as another executive mentioned to me:

“Startups are a new entrant on campuses. Especially in some markets like Asia, these companies are increasingly using equity states as a competitive game changer.”

In our view at CLC Recruiting, when investing in university recruiting programs, make sure you have an effective framework for evaluating the success of your initiatives on different campuses. Use that evaluation framework to make principled decisions about how to spread and target your efforts. Take advantage of our university recruiting toolkit (members, access the entire toolkit here) to help you do this.