A Difficult Recruitment

I’m doing a recruitment for a fast-growing, boutique consulting firm. Like many small firms, the entrepreneur owner is looking for a creative, self-starting individual who can do a number of things. Smaller, entrepreneurial organizations often bring a couple of roles together to make up a job. Finding people who have the skill and personality mix to do more than one role is difficult. Recruiting for a ‘one role’ job in a well-established organization is much more straightforward.

We have re-posted the role three times on Indeed and LinkedIn. Each time, we altered the job title and the key words slightly, looking to attract the right candidates. As usual, we got a flurry of relevant and irrelevant applications. The ‘Easy Apply Buttons’ on these posting sites mean that many people don’t even read the posting before they contribute to the ever-growing problem of ‘resume spam’.

My Client’s Recruiting Mind Set

My entrepreneurial executive client has what I think of as an older mindset about talent. Common among recruiters and hiring managers when baby boomers made up a large portion of the talent pool, its basic premise is that “talent always be available in numbers greater than the demand for it”.

He is firmly convinced that he can find the talent he needs with a “post and they will come to us” approach to recruiting. Always concerned about cost, he sees this as the most cost-effective way to get the talent he needs to grow his firm. He has outsourced his recruiting activity to me. However, he is convinced that he understands the current dynamics in the talent market place better than I do. Unfortunately, he does not.

He needs a person for this job who can handle the demands of multiple, and in some ways, contradictory roles. Part of the job involves client outreach and persuasion. The rest involves careful attention to project details using on-line software tools. People with an extroverted, engaging personality do the first best. People with an introverted, focus on detail personality excel as the second part. Finding both skill sets and personalities in one person is going to be a challenge. My advice to him is to move to “search out potential candidates and convince them to come to you” search approach to find such a person.

The Mismatch Between His Mindset and the Reality of the Current Talent Market Place

My client is reluctant to make this switch in recruiting approaches. He knows that it will cost him more. I can see from his body language that he is not accepting the fact that talented, flexible people are hard to find. He still believes that because there are piles of resumes coming into on-line job posts, there must lots of talented, extraordinary people looking for work. Unfortunately, it just is not so. The difficulties we are encountering on this recruitment is just one more sign of a significant shift in the dynamics of the talent pool.

Many executives’ recruiting mindset still basks in the ‘glow’ of recruiting during the baby-boom era.

The sheer number of baby boomers in the workforce made recruiting relatively simple at the end of the 20th century, and in the first decade of the 21st.

“Just post, and resumes will come to you in numbers so large you need resume scanning software to cut down the numbers.”
This mindset has lingered on among hiring managers because of the 2008 – 2009 recession. Many baby boomers did not leave the workforce due to the economic impact that this recession had on them. They now are leaving, simply because they are getting older.

Investment in Business Software and the Impact on Jobs

In years since 2009, the drive to cut business costs, particularly at larger organizations, also had an impact on the size of the talent pool. Many large organizations have been investing in business automation for over 50 years now. The structure of their jobs is correlated to the business know-how that has been embedded in this software as business rules. As a result, their ability to redefine jobs “on-the-fly” has decreased. At the same time, these organizations are no longer as dependent on flexible decision-making ability in their workers.

Given this, many larger organizations cut staff levels in the last decade. They let go older, more experienced workers for younger ones. The executives in these organizations knew that these younger people could get the job done using the business knowledge embedded in software. Well-established organizations could export jobs to the third world where labor costs were lower, once again knowing that the business knowledge buried in software would allow these people to do an adequate job.

Large organization executives wanted to maximize earnings per share (EPS), and therefore their EPS-related bonuses. Downsizing and outsourcing became the norm.

These ‘down-sized individuals’ entered the available talent pool, swelling its numbers. As a result, the baby boom mindset among hiring managers that talented people will always be available in the needed numbers lingered on for most of decade since 2009.

The changing composition of the available talent pool

The 2018 talent pool reality is very different. People who fit into well-defined jobs, where much of business know-how needed to get things done is embedded as business rules in software applications, make up the largest part of the talent pool. But the raw numbers of such people are decreasing as baby boomers finally leave the work force. Immigration may compensate for this to some extent. But it will not negate the fact that the competition for even this type of worker is increasing.

Flexible, creative people, who can do jobs where the business rules vary constantly as the organization flexes and grows, are the smaller part of the talent pool. As the overall talent pool size shrinks, the competition for this type of person is becoming much more intense. Smaller, innovative firms need this kind of person to grow.

Finding the talent you need to grow your innovative business is no longer easy and will get tougher

The-Right-Talent’s leaders were executives for decades. We hired, developed, managed, and coached the talented people who were responsible for the success of our highly innovative, technical organizations. They numbered in the thousands. Through this experience, we have learned one inescapable thing.

Talent trumps everything.
No matter how great your vision,
or how powerful your technology,
without the talent to execute,

Organizational growth plans that are not supported by a talent management and acquisition plan are doomed to failure.

If you run:

  • a rapidly growing firm,
  • or a highly innovative one,
  • or one which solves problems for your clients,

you must develop a talent management strategy that is closely aligned to, and directly supportive of, your vision for future growth.

How can you respond to growing competition for talent as a leader seeking to grow?

These are the options you need to consider at part of your talent management plan.

  • Growing talent internally.
  • Choose your recruiting tactics carefully.
  • Move to a “find them and reach out to sell them on the opportunity” approach.

We will explore these options in detail in coming posts.

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