How the Economic Downturn Has Really Screwed Up Recruiting

This is not the blog you’re expecting.  I’m not going to talk about the hordes of unqualified candidates I get bombarded with.  I’m not going to discuss how hard it is to get a “passive” candidate to make a change out of fear of the unknown.  I refuse to debate the merits of 3rd party recruiters and how some companies feel they don’t “need” TPRs because there are so many people out there dying to come to work for you.


No.  This blog is about how this recession has given some hiring managers an over-inflated sense of the awesomeness of their open position.  I get it – there are lots of great people out of work.  To some extent, employers can afford to be a little more selective.  The problem arises when “holding out” for someone better = no hire at all.  Here are a few things I try (sometimes futilely) to impress upon my hiring managers –


There is no such thing as a perfect fit.  No one will ever be the exact slam dunk fit for any job.  When you get multiple people interviewing one candidate there are bound to be disagreements on some points, hopefully minor.  Don’t let that stop you from making an offer if the consensus is (mostly) yes.  Too many hiring managers are afraid of settling, so they keep looking, only to end up with no one in the end. 


Available now doesn’t mean available a month from now.  I’ve noticed (especially when interviewing unemployed applicants) that hiring managers are surprised when candidates are no longer available.  We’ve all been there.  Interview goes great, we do our best to keep the excitement and interest up but the longer you wait to make an offer, the more likely it is the candidate will have moved  on.  Even the most passive candidate, once they have a taste of a new job, will start actively searching.  If another company makes them an offer in the 6 weeks it took you to make a decision, they’ve most likely moved on.


If you’re going to make internal knowledge part of the hiring criteria, you have to hire an internal candidate.  I recently had a hiring manager rejecting candidates partly because they didn’t know our internal CRM.  I thought my head was going to explode.  I even asked other hiring managers if that made sense (the answer was NO).  What complicated the situation is they were not interested in any of the internal applicants either.  You simply cannot reject a candidate for not knowing your proprietary CRM while refusing any internal candidates.  It just doesn’t make sense.  Any external candidate will have some sort of ramp time, even if it’s a day or two just to find the bathroom.  They won’t know what your inside people know.


So much more could be said on this topic – what say you RBC community?  How has the recession screwed up YOUR recruiting?

Views: 1187

Comment by Craig Watson on October 13, 2011 at 5:11pm

Amy great post and I feel your pain.  It's the nature of our industry and in the cycle the client (hiring manager) 'thinks' they have the power - but it moves quickly!  Here in Oz unemployment dropped last quarter and we are sitting at a healthy 5.2%... Those fantastic 3 words 'candidate short market' are being bandied about again and we are wrestling that 'power' back.  Hang in there! Like the Phoenix - recruitment will return!!

Comment by Jeff Baumgarten on October 14, 2011 at 1:09am

  Great points Amy. It's much like decision paralysis when you have 200 channels to choose from...and as you mention, there's no effective way for the HM to hit the pause button on the candidate DVR while they go looking for a better show...

Comment by Jon Terry on October 14, 2011 at 8:12am

Amy, I think this succinctly summarises my own frustrations and is very accurate!


The other thing that I would add is Pay people what they are worth. Don't try and get a bargain because "there are lots of people out there". Find your best candidate. Offer them a proper salary that secures them for the long term and then they wont be out the door in 6-8 months time when something better (ie better paid) comes along.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on October 14, 2011 at 9:31am
I completely agree with all of you! Hiring managers also must remember that a huge number of unemployed carpenters or real estate agents doesn't necessarily mean there's a bunch of extra technical pre-sales engineers laying around.
Comment by Scott Corwin on October 14, 2011 at 11:08am


We focus in the IT space which has less than 3% unemployment. Add that to your
thoughts above and wow what a formula. I'd like to use your post and pass it on
to my hiring mangers. Can I have your permission? Happy to give you the by
line. :)


Comment by Michelle Lair on October 14, 2011 at 11:11am

Great post Amy....I am finding that my clients believe that the economy gives all of my candidates an indefinite experation date. I try to explain that the shelf life of a good candidate is typically only  6 weeks. I also remind them that the unemployment rate for college graduates is only 4%. The truth is, that the economy is making candidates as a whole, more reluctant to make a move. They are staying put because better the devil they know than the devil they dont. I let my clients know that not only do they have competition for my candidate, but the competition is through ME.and if they dont pull the trigger, one of my other clients will!     

Comment by Steven G. Davis on October 14, 2011 at 11:11am

It is correct on all aspects. The daily comments from Hiring managers/HR folks " well it should be easy to find that type of candidate". Not so much, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details and often times the hiring mangars/HR folks seem to forget that. Whether working with internal recruiters or TPR's.  Just to add some humor to it all i have included this video that I have used recently in a couple of presentations which says it all!. Thanks for the great post!! Recuiter vs. Hiring Manager from DesignsOnTalent.

Comment by Kirk Walton on October 14, 2011 at 11:20am

Our story is very similar to the commenters here, in our field the biggest issue is the companies in town believe they have a handle on "what an IT PM or BA consultant is worth" (based on relatively public knowledge on bill rates amongst companies) and expect it's roughly the same as it was in 2008 & 2009, then are puzzled when the people they bring in at 2008 and 2009 rates can't live up to their lofty expectations.  There's a pretty close correlation we see with our clients where those who are willing to be the bold ones and spend more than "the market rate" are also the ones with successful projects and happy, engaged consultants.  I assume this is not a coincidence.

Comment by Hilary Boslet on October 14, 2011 at 11:26am

Add to this list: if the company does a poor job of marketing, especially to new hires entering the work force, have a recent history of lay-offs, have not invested in their R&D , there is no line of potential employees waiting outside your door! Let me tell you, if you don't hire for 2 years, and don't keep an on-campus presence, no one knows who you are.  The "internal egos" who think everyone is dying to work for them is truly amazing.

Comment by lori light on October 14, 2011 at 11:28am

I have to admit.. I thought this post was going to talk about how the recession has screwed up MY Recruiting Business as well as many others. While I understand & agree with all your comments [which I dealt with in better times & think are always an issue in recruiting.. worse now], I wish I was being driven crazy by a hiring mgr right now! Specializing in retail [retained search], & working independently has made it especially tough during this downturn. 



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