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Headhunting lesson: Get ’em as CIA does

CIA has found Facebook an invaluable tool for peer-to-peer marketing, says the Aditya Birla Group chairman. Aloke Tikku reports.

business Updated: Jan 19, 2008 02:08 IST
Aloke Tikku

Indian spymasters got a lesson on how to spot the best talents — as the US spooks do — on Friday. And the lesson came from noted industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla at the RN Kao Memorial Lecture.

Organisations must not only have the ability to gauge the new skills needed to stay contemporary but also innovate how and where they locate talent, the Aditya Birla Group chairman told a gathering of security and intelligence officers.

The US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had done this by using social networking site Facebook to recruit potential employees. It provides, he said, an overview of what the agency is looking for in a recruit, along with a 30-second promotional YouTube video aimed at potential young applicants.

“CIA has found Facebook an invaluable tool for peer-to-peer marketing. As the recruiting pitch goes: ‘If you’re a
Facebook member, a career as a government spook is only a click away’,” Birla said.

The Research and Analysis Wing — India’s external intelligence agency — instituted the lecture last year in memory of its founder, RN Kao. Writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor was the first to deliver the lecture to bring a whiff of fresh air into the closely-knit community of intelligence officers.

Tharoor focused on India’s soft power; Birla had his focus firmly on the shortage of people with the right skill set, in and out of the government. He counted the scramble for talent as one of the issues that looms the largest — globally and in India — over organisations in the private and public sector.

By the time he wrapped up his lecture, ‘Confronting the Great Talent Crunch’, Birla not only left something for the spooks to munch over but also for the policy makers.