We Have Created Our Own Shortage Of People

John Sumser is writing a series of articles about the hiring paradox on HR Examiner. Read the first one, The Hiring Paradox (Skills Gap 1). The gist is this:

It takes more time to hire when you have more alternatives.

And, boy oh boy, do employers have more alternatives right now. What I found fascinating is some of the other links that John has at the bottom of the article. The one about the skills that machinists need—part computer programmer, part welder? Aside from highly cool, does that seem familiar to you? That need for domain expertise is real in our projects.

Part 2 came out this week. Skills Gap 2: Outsourcing starts the discussion of what happens when an entire department gets outsourced. Because all hiring is effectively local, all of those people are now competing with each other for jobs.

Here’s what John says,

That means that the labor market is flooded with resumes from people who are not qualified to do the work after each and every layoff. Hiring managers and recruiters experience the increase in non-qualified resumes as a dilution of the pool.

Now, what can a smart manager do? If you are hiring in a town where a layoff has occurred, do you hire based on tools and technology? Nooooo. You do not. You hire based on cultural fit. And you train.

Why? Because smart people, never mind geeks, will learn your tools and technology quick. What happens to people when they’ve been laid off? They can’t wait to get another job. Oh, they want to get a job that fits, but the urgency is powerful. They are motivated to learn whatever they need to learn.

Are technical skills important? Yes. Are they critical? No, not if you can train them. Are interpersonal skills important? Yes. Are they critical? Yes.

Now, read China Gorman’s Skills Shortage or Inflated Job Requirements. She’s specifically talking about 4-year degrees, but she could easily be discussing the laundry-list job descriptions I see all the time.

In Hiring Geeks That Fit, I have tips about your geeks not necessarily needing degrees. Think about your open position. Think about the skills required. Did anyone really learn those skills in school? Or, did people learn them on the job? Or, even more likely, did someone learn them in a workshop and provide an apprenticeship on the job?

If you are looking for people, don’t create your own shortage by insisting on too-tight job descriptions. Don’t spend so much time evaluating all possible candidates that you’ve tripled the time it takes for you to hire. Don’t inflate your job requirements just because you can.

Make sure you are not creating your own shortage. Go back and look at that pile of resumes. Are you sure that no one in that list can perform your open job?

What would happen if you stopped using your Automated Tracking System (ATS) to filter candidates out? Would you see a lot more candidates? Try reading resumes without looking at their education, and look at their experience. You might be happily surprised.

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1 Comment

  1. Charles Rein

    As a 20+ year Expert Technical Recruiter, Engineering/Software, the biggest problem is the over inflated position description that the technical managers decide are must have requirements and that the HR Recruiters due to lack of experience, don’t push back on.
    (ie that Stanford BSCE does not want your SR Software Engineering position, he wants a Manager /VP with options position “Just like you did”).

    And another after recession problem, the 3-5 year experienced person does not exist, because no one in your Industry was hiring. Were you hiring?

    Reply

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