Recruiting in a market with 20+ million unemployed
Sounds like an employer’s dream come true, doesn’t it? After years of vying for the attention of gainfully employed candidates (and “bidding” for their services), recruiting in a time of mass unemployment should be like shooting fish in a barrel. But it’s not. For all intents and purposes, trying to identify and recruit the very best individuals for key roles is decidedly more difficult today than in years past. Here’s why.
First of all, one must recognize that many employers have used the COVID-19 shutdown to prune their ranks of underperformers, and logically so. Indeed, while many of those who are now unemployed are good, productive employees, and while many companies did layoffs or furloughs based on seniority, that’s not the case across the board. So how is one going to know the difference between “the good, the bad, and the ugly”? When you look at résumés sent in response to a job posting or consider LinkedIn profiles marked “open to new opportunities,” there’s no way to tell unless you invest in the strategic process of “qualifying” those individuals. You need to have a process in place that will enable you to discern the real reasons an individual left a prior employer, as “a COVID-19 layoff” will be the stated reason for leaving for most everyone out of work today. And, in a time when references from prior employers are limited functionally by law and policy to “name, rank, and serial number,” you need to be able to qualify your prospects through a dialogue with references, industry insiders, customers, vendors, etc. who know or who can find out the realities about the individual under consideration. Remember, a résumé is simply a marketing document, and statistics tell us that over 80% of all résumés contain one or more major misstatements.
Second, with respect to the talent pool available, you know that if you limit yourself to considering only the unemployed in your recruiting efforts, even at these unprecedented levels, you’ll be overlooking a vast number of great prospects. However, employed individuals are proving to be more difficult to recruit now than in the recent past for a variety of reasons. According to the New York Times this past November, relocation for a new job opportunity was at its lowest point in decades, and it’s probable that it will be even lower going forward. Job security is another issue that must be addressed. In many instances, employers have done everything in their power to retain top performers, through creative restructuring or “rightsizing” programs, through securing government support programs for them like the Payroll Protection Program, and through other means. In return, many employees recognize what their employers have done to retain them and genuinely appreciate it, so their loyalty to them in many cases has grown to be quite strong. And, in this context, many will believe that they have better future job security with their current employer than with another.
In any event, you need to rise to the challenge as many of the very best prospects for your critical jobs are gainfully employed. Yes, they may be more difficult to recruit, but they are often worth the extra effort. What that means, more so than even before, is that you need to be able to communicate the significant benefit (or benefits) for making a change directly to these individuals. These benefits can come in a variety of forms, like level of responsibility, career path potential, geographic location, virtual officing opportunities, travel requirements, and yes, compensation. But no matter what, the key to success lies with your ability to gain a prospect’s attention so that you can communicate the benefits. And that’s very hard to do through a website or job board posting. Simply stated, you will need to be more creative in your recruiting approach than you were just a few months ago if you are going to recruit successfully. You will need to engage these individuals in a meaningful conversation about the opportunities you may have available. But the challenge is obvious. How can you connect? How do you gain the attention and, ultimately, the trust of individuals who might otherwise be content with their employment situation? What do you need to do to convince them that you can offer both the career path and the job security that most everyone is focused on today?
These are the recruiting challenges we’re seeing today and likely will see for months and perhaps years to come. So, you need to gear up to meet them, and Schaffer Associates is prepared to help you. You may have the recruiting talent in-house to address these challenges in whole or in part, or you may need help from time to time. That’s where we come in. Schaffer Associates has been recruiting for over 28 years and brings a combined 120 years of industry experience to the challenge. Let us help you identify and recruit the “best of the best” for your key positions, even in these uncharted times.
Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Schaffer Associates is a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future.