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: 1195

Comment by Rebecca Griffin on October 14, 2011 at 12:00pm

I liken the employment crisis to the housing market crisis. People looking to buy a house with certain features and will not look at anything else, and if they do they low ball their offer. Similar story when it comes to the expectations of companies and hiring managers. Very specific requirements regarding  a particular degree  and knowledge of particular versions of a software can make finding the best candidate very difficult.

I agree with Kirk regarding rates.  Add an MSP to the equation, and the rates will go down even further.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on October 14, 2011 at 12:14pm

Great comments everyone, thanks so much!  Lori brings up an excellent point - it's easy for me to sit here and complain when I work internally for a really cool company and have very strong relationships with most of my hiring managers.  It's the occasional hiccup that sparks a blog such as this.  I am grateful that I even have hiring managers to drive me crazy! :)

Comment by Rebecca Griffin on October 14, 2011 at 12:33pm

Amy, we all have our moments of frustration, sometimes it is good to vent. Been there done that

Comment by Sandra McCartt on October 14, 2011 at 5:25pm

Keep the faith folks.  I am working with a client now on a Sr. position that has been in the works since last March.  The candidate who has survived this recruit-a-thon went back yesterday to meet with the hiring committee.  It went well, now we do references and she takes an assessment test and two weeks from now she meets some other key people in the organization.  No firm offer yet but moving forward at he speed of frozen molassas.  It is however moving.  If both of us don't die of old age and the CEO doesn't leave...Virgina there really may be a Santa Claus.

There are as Amy says many misguided thoughts afoot in the world of recruiting but the name of the game is to keep on keeping on.  Stay with those hiring managers, laugh about it with them, keep those candidates warm and in play.  It's not a Sunday school picnic out there for anybody right now.  The country is facing a time when patience and harder work will perhaps be needed to keep the ship moving and afloat.  We would all like to run and scream at least once a day, just don't let your clients and hiring managers know it.  Bless their hearts, some of them may sew their own clothes.

Comment by bill josephson on October 16, 2011 at 11:42am
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I believe Amy hit the main business problem I'm having as a TPR.


The issue is I'll get only the toughest of the tough assignments as companies have stated if they post a typical position they'll receive 800 resumes within 2 hours with at least 50 worth speaking to and 20 worth interviewing.   Thus I'm working the phones making 200 to 250 outgoing calls per day to speak with 35-40 prospects normally finding 3-4 who'd like me to call them after hours with 1-2 actually sending me their resume.  So after a ramp up time for a client with multiple positions who'll work with me (hard to find these days) I'll eventually build a steady candidate flow. 

An urgency is determined, we agree (either with HR or Hiring Manager) on resume feedback within 72 hours.  It always begins well.  Recruiter and Manager delighted to see some 'on target' resumes.  However, that 3 day window for feedback invariably gets pushed back for any one of 10 reasons.  Attempts to rein in the process in essence futile.  The choice to keep working with them or find another client after a month's worth of recruiting effort considered.

In the end (yes there really are internal candidates, positions put on hold, misrepresented urgency, and ineffectual client points of contact at managing the process) invariably they're holding out for that perfect candidate able to fulfill roughly 100% of their required need.  So due to their inflexibility, recruiting process not only becomes protracted but unless a candidate is perfect there's a lack of feedback (bad news doesn't travel it just gets dropped) and interview activity is halted.  When a "prefect" candidate is uncovered the fact they're moving next door to do the exact same job at a nominal pay increase offers no motivation to change jobs.  If they aren't learning anything new, getting a nominal pay increase, and are now the unproven member of the team why make the change for "uncertainty?"  When an offer is extended the candidate then uses the offer as leverage to correct their problem in their present company.

Amy hits the key issue.  In good times a hiring manager will accept 70-80% of what they require in a candidate and that 20-30% a candidate will learn motivates them to take the position.  But when a company wants the perfect candidate, holding out for them, only to discover in the end the perfect candidate has zero motivation to follow through accepting an offer where they aren't learning anything and just going across the street to perform the same job you end up 2 months later recognizing it was a waste and loss of your time--too late

Comment by bill josephson on October 16, 2011 at 12:16pm

Forgot to end my last post by saying this is the trademark od a bad jobs market/economy

Comment by John Comyn on October 17, 2011 at 4:24am

In South Africa we have seen a number of agencies either close or retrench staff. This has resulted in people starting small agencies working from home using coffee shops etc to do business. We also have strong labour unions calling for legislation to be passed banning labour brokers. This bit of legislation is in the final stages of being approved by government. (Government in SA is largely dependent on the Unions for votes). These labour unions are now changing their business model and transforming into TPR's. In short there are more recruiters fishing in the same pond. It is still a fun business but you have to work a little harder and a little smarter.


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