Archive for January, 2011

Where Have All the Good Candidates Gone?

January 26, 2011

While 2011 holds promise for an economic engine that has largely sputtered and stalled, a noteworthy oddity has taken shape.  Granted, the job market’s temperature has inched up a few degrees.  The number of open positions has slowly increased over the past year.  Both recruiters and candidates have noted the recent pick-up in activity.  Green lights down the boulevard, right?

Not quite.  We seem to have arrived at an inflection point.  Hiring companies still operate under the belief it is their hiring world to rule.  In a job description, if there are ten check boxes to be checked off, they will only consider candidates with eleven.  Either that or they are seeking the proverbial “purple squirrel,” a candidate with a highly specific (and unrealistic) combination of credentials that very few individuals, if any, fully embody.  Searches that should take 8 weeks are taking 6 months.  This leads to many hiring companies getting frustrated and falling behind on their hiring objectives, which in turn, adversely affects their business results.

Meanwhile, many top candidates have taken themselves off the market.  Either they recently changed positions and won’t consider new opportunities so soon afterward, or they’ve continued to hunker down with their current employer and partake in that devil-you-know dance craze that has taken the world by storm during this economic downturn.  Perhaps candidates are feeling jaded with the relentless onslaught of less than qualified job opportunities – “We’ve been looking for entrepreneurial people just like you to come join the exciting world of franchise operations.”

There certainly are good quality candidates on the market.  Some may not have been discovered quite yet.  Perhaps their networks aren’t well-established enough to work in their favor.  Others are good candidates hiding behind deplorable resumes, minimal online information, and interview skills that elicit from the interviewer an unspoken, “They didn’t just say that, did they?”

That brings us to this inflection point.  Hiring companies continue to set the prerequisites bar astronomically high and because they believe they’re in the driver’s seat, aren’t doing enough to attract top talent.  Candidates either don’t want to entertain a move at this time or don’t know how to effectively present themselves for a successful move.  Never the twain shall meet.

Then again, something’s got to give.  Who blinks first?  Growing companies, whose primary bottleneck is the lack of headcount horsepower needed to fuel their next growth phase?  Candidates, who get fed up with mediocrity – either with their current employer or their own interviewing prowess?

Why wait for the other side to do something?  That sputtering economic engine needs some higher octane now.  Where have all the good candidates gone?  Thanks to both sides of the fence, not very far.

Action Items:

1.  As a hiring company, your competition isn’t just the companies that play in your space.  It’s every company that finds ways to make their open positions more attractive to the candidates you seek.

2.  Naturally, a company can hold out for the “perfect” candidate.  But given the inherent delays, at what opportunity cost?

3.  Candidates shouldn’t downplay the importance of their own brand and all the elements that make up and support that brand.  Your resume, LinkedIn presence, network’s health and well-being, and interviewing skills all play a monumental role in your brand’s strength and attractiveness.

4.  Everyone, candidates and hiring companies alike, should always be selling.