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The No. 1 factor in a company's success is talent. It's not the ability to raise capital, the value of products and services or even a clever marketing campaign. Leaders in organizations of all sizes across the world are seizing this opportunity in order to gain competitive advantage.

For decades, Human Resources and recruitment has not had a seat at the boardroom table, too often remaining a back-office function whose resourcing and role in the company usually came as an afterthought.

But the increasing availability of reliable data and robust analytics has enabled recruiters to speak the same language as their counterparts in finance, IT, sales and marketing. If your business hasn't embraced this yet, let me share three reasons why it should.

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Strategic talent planning – no surprises

Recruiters are now able to plot the probability of a particular strategic decision succeeding based on the availability of talent in the market to staff it. Thanks to social media, it's now possible to identify the right candidate for the right job at the right time from among the global professional population.

A business looking to make a decision on which market to expand into can now discover in seconds whether the right skills exist in that market, and in numbers where the chances of recruiting the right talent support entering that market.

The power of talent branding beyond recruitment

Secondly, the value of a strong talent brand is immense and, by borrowing the best practices of great marketers, you can have impact beyond talent.

Just as social media gives employers new insights to find the right talent, it also hands professionals the ability to find new insights about potential employers. As such, companies are realizing that great candidates they don't yet know, already know them.

In this era of increasing transparency, consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on more than the quality of a company's products and services. They are now also interested in the company behind the product – such as the company's mission and vision, culture and values, the way it sources products, and how it gives back to the community. These qualities are now a key part of the company's overall brand equity, bringing the chief marketing officer into the talent branding fold, while also putting the recruiter at the centre of building a company's brand.

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Competitive talent advantage

Lastly, the ability to plot the probability of hiring success can become a competitive advantage in its own right. Whether recruiting for software engineers in Silicon Valley, or drilling engineers in Alberta, companies often find themselves competing to win the same finite talent.

This is expensive and time consuming. Access to data about the world's work force enables companies to identify pools of talent with the right skills which no one is competing for, simply because they're not in the 'right' geography. As talent flows more easily across borders – particularly in markets such as Europe – there's an opportunity for recruiters to focus their efforts on talent pools they can win more easily, creating a potential competitive advantage.

There has never been a better time to focus on talent. And it's not just about plugging short-term skills needs. The CEOs that prioritize their talent function are also equipping their organization with the right information to make better strategic decisions, giving them a strong competitive advantage for the future; those that don't, will miss out.

Brian Church, Country Manager of Canada and head of Sales Solutions for North America at LinkedIn.

This column is part of Globe Careers' new Leadership Lab series, where executives and leadership experts share their views and advice about the leadership and management issues of today. There will be a new column every weekday. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

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