The best books about talent management

Who am I?

The future of talent management is now. I’m a teacher, consultant, and board member who is deeply interested in the social and economic impact of the freelance revolution. Millions of people around the world are now working for themselves as independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. Millions more are taking on freelance assignments to augment their income or increase their expertise and experience. Technology makes it possible for professionals in many fields to work remotely and free themselves from the limitations of their local economy. These benefits organizations by offering greater access to talent and gives professionals greater access to opportunity. 

I wrote...

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

By Jon Younger, Norm Smallwood,

Book cover of Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

What is my book about?

Companies are gaining advantage through a new capability -- strategic use of external experts -- made possible by technology and the globalization of talent. Leaders everywhere recognize that "lean," "agile," and "fast" strategies require new ways to access and leverage--without owning--key talent to fill critical gaps. As managers seek nontraditional sources of strategic talent and experiment with fast, flexible ways of engaging these experts, they need a new roadmap.

This book delivers that roadmap. It tells you how to assess, choose, attract, develop, support, and retain your external talent. Authored by thought leaders and bestselling authors in leadership and talent management who teach and consult globally, Agile Talent reveals how companies such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and Bain Capital organize and manage new forms of talent in innovative ways. Supported by survey data and packed with tools and templates for applying these ideas, this book is the ultimate guide for winning the next war for talent.

The books I picked & why

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HR from the Outside In

By Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank, Mike Ulrich

Book cover of HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources

Why this book?

This book brought global survey data, case examples, and thought leadership together in recommending a new approach to HR that has since become a standard: driving the organizational capabilities the business needs to flourish competitively, and deliver superior value to customers. Six critical HR competencies based on research are described and best practices shared. The new model of HR proposed in this book has been broadly adopted.


By Gene W. Dalton, Paul H. Thompson,

Book cover of Novations: Strategies for Career Management

Why this book?

Gene Dalton and Paul Thompson changed the way we think about career development through their research and what they called the four stages of development. It has influenced career development and talent management practices in companies around the world. Deeply accessible and practical, the four stages are fully described and the book is rich in application tools, methods and best practices.

Strategies for Change

By James Brian Quinn,

Book cover of Strategies for Change: Logical Incrementalism

Why this book?

Quinn’s book should be read by every organization and talent specialist. He reminds us through both data and case study that radical change requires a transformational mindset combined with what he calls strategic incrementalism. His book provides a rich mix of examples, tools, and methods for continuously improving the organization and workforce to meet current and likely future challenges. 

Talent on Demand

By Peter Cappelli,

Book cover of Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty

Why this book?

I first ran across Capelli’s book on the desk of Bill Allen, then CHRO of Maersk, and was an early observer of hybrid talent management. He reviews the challenges - tough to forecast business and therefore talent needs. He examines the key elements of modern talent management: rigorous forecasting, creating a more flexible talent sourcing model, better insight on current talent, adapting processes and practices to continue to innovate. 

Human Resource Champions

By Dave Ulrich,

Book cover of Human Resource Champions

Why this book?

In a recent survey of HR leaders, 80% mentioned that they were continuing to organize their HR department based on the “Ulrich” model. Is there a more impressive recommendation for the impact of this book, and Dave’s research and writing? In HR Champions, Ulrich points out the importance of three types of HR work: business partners, specialists, and shared services. In a recent HR Management article, that model was expanded to include a fourth category: project management. Technology is obviously a much bigger factor in HR work since 1996 when the book was first published. But, this oldie but goodie has aged extraordinarily well and continues to be relevant and insightful. If you are in HR or interested in talent management at scale, this book has to be on your list.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in management, organizational behavior, and leadership?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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