There never was, nor will there ever be a qualified candidate shortage.

What is heard often from recruiters over a drink at happy hour in Anytown, USA is the lack of qualified candidates in the marketplace. Let the increasing population, demise of entire industries, the worst recession and employment landscape in our lifetime and the invent of easier and more efficient ways to source qualified candidates, some of these recruiters may find a solution by simply making a few more phone calls. Aside from those, I subscribe that we are not and have never been in a qualified candidate shortage; here is why.

The economics of the workforce prevent it:

Last I checked, we work for money. The value of every employee category is measured by the same parameters we learned in Economics 101; price (or in this case, salary) is driven by supply and demand. Barring government interference, the market is quite efficient at determining the value of an employee. If any particular
employee category is imbalanced, organic market forces take over and reset in a relatively short time. For example, if there is a shortage of farm workers and the demand remains the same, salaries will go up and
employees who would have otherwise gone into another profession might consider farm work until the balance is met. As this is occurring another profession is losing potential employees so over time the same will happen…and on and on.

Overseas Outsourcing actually creates a glut in some categories:

Whether it’s manufacturing, customer support, legal assistance, collections, etc., we all know highly skilled, talented individuals who have been displaced by companies outsourcing these functions overseas to a cheaper labor market. In these categories a glut of qualified talent has actually driven salaries down and
they will remain so until the market is able to absorb the inventory. But they still are qualified.

So why do efficient and competent recruiters in a balanced capitalistic environment feel there is a shortage of qualified candidates? Answer: the number of qualified candidates has always and will always remain relatively steady; it’s simply the number of resumes one must sift through to reach that candidate that gives the
appearance of a qualified candidate shortage.

Blame email and the Internet?

Before the Internet: If you were an active job seeker before the Internet you would first buy the (insert city here) Sunday Times, pull out the massive employment section, pour a large cup of coffee and start circling. Then you would have to type each individual cover letter and either head to the post office or march to the nearest Kinko’s and start faxing, which in those days got quite expensive.

In this ancient time recruiters needed to spend years developing their contacts and maintaining their Rolodex. They would spend hours on the phone going from department to department trying to convince gatekeepers to give them viable information to build a somewhat reliable org chart.

After the Internet: In an instant the ease with which one could acquire information, find jobs and apply removed all traditional barriers that required significant applicant effort. With one click job seekers could apply to hundreds of jobs all before the 12 pm pregame. Click away!

The advancement of technology and social networks now allow recruiters to build entire org charts in a matter of hours. No need to pretend you were the editor of CFO today and were interested in writing an article about your controller, “What is his name, again”?

Conclusion: You can't blame the machine or technology. Job seekers have always inherently known if they are qualified for a particular position. But with the barriers removed, why not give it a shot? Job seekers send their resumes to
jobs they are unqualified for because they can. They do so in the hopes that the recipient may have something
else they are working on where they are qualified. This volume then dilutes the number of qualified candidates
but doesn’t change their numbers.

So it’s not that there is a shortage of qualified candidates, it just feels that way. Keep plugging away, the qualified candidates are out there!

Views: 193

Comment by Paul Alfred on February 23, 2010 at 11:00am
I beg to differ ... There will always be a shortage of qualified candidates its the reason Companies turn to Recruiters when their own sourcing efforts have failed.

The Best Candidates are not on the market (Reason why my Company was created and if they are I question why .. Lets take the Engineering World say Civil/Structural Engineers lets say we have 10 Companies, (Keeping the math simple) looking for Engineers with a P. Eng and min 8 years Exp from that State or in my case from my Province Ontario Canada. If there is an Engineer on the Job Boards on the market... My first question is does he have the P. Eng. and if he does why is he on the Market - when 10 Companies in the space needs one or two just like him/her.... There is going to be a problem; like (a) most of his experience is from outside of the US or Canada or (b) only has 5 years exp ... Trust me when I tell you that candidate has to be recruited from one of the 10 Engineering firms within the group. The so call supply you speak of exist there "Off the Market" ....

In today's Canadian Career market perhaps not as much in the US, we are moving "Qualified" Candidates every 3- 5 years from one Client Competitor to the next across industries - where the Requirements are Professional and Specific - we are not talking about Customer Service or Sales Reps here ...
Comment by Christopher L. Poreda on February 23, 2010 at 12:02pm

Thanks for the response. There are a number of ways to look at the recruiting business. From my perspective of 12 years in the business, I've always believed that the most qualified candidates are always on the market, as they are in constant pursuit of career enhancement and have managed their careers accordingly. That's what makes them the most sought after. Whether it be money, responsibility, title, etc., the best are always looking. For me, contacting the most qualified candidates is the easiest recruiting call. They're always listening. Ask any client if they would rather have an outstanding performer for 3 years with a recruiting fee attached or an under-achiever for 6 without a fee. Such is the cycle of recruiting. Unfortunately, most recruiters are frightened by these candidates because they haven't done their homework or have had adequate training.

So why do my clients pay my fees? Clients pay my fees not because they have exhausted all other options. They pay my fees because not only am I less expensive in the long run than trying to conduct the search themselves, but clients pay me to manage the process and convince the candidate they want to say "Yes".

The only thing that separates one recruiting firm from another is the recruiters and their shared philosophy of business. Other than old episodes of Seinfeld, there is nothing that makes me laugh more than hearing a recruiter say, "we work with the best candidates and the best clients". Nonsense. The clients are the same. The candidates are the same. It's just how we handle them that is different. As highly skilled 3rd party recruiters, I tend to believe that over the long term we will always be more qualified to offer our clients a more cost effective solution than can ever be done in-house. Who is with me? Light the torches!

PS...Maren made a comment about nursing my point, nursing schools have never been just takes a bit of time to balance the market. Who can guess the next imbalance?
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 23, 2010 at 3:26pm
I guess we have to agree to disagree on this one .... When I ask Clients do you want to see a candidate on the Job Boards where tons of other recruiters already have their resume or do you want the Candidate that is happy working at your competitor and is not looking "But might be interested in hearing about your Opportunity" - 9/ times out of 10 .... No ... 10 times out of 10 my Clients want the candidate sitting happy and pretty at their competition, doing the job right now. To land that candidate takes the job of a Killer recruiter who ( We agree here ) (a) Can close that candidate on that opportunity (b) This Candidates has real reasons for making his/her next move outside of money and if he is happy where he/her is presently; I have just landed the Killer Applicant. Fully earning the 25% - 30% Fee ...

Its not about working with the best candidates ... Its about Recruiting the Best Candidates and convincing them you have a better opportunity than what they already have at present.... In my 15 years plus in the industry I have found that these candidates are not scouring the Job Boards ...

But like I said ... We can agree to disagree ... !
Comment by Christopher L. Poreda on February 23, 2010 at 4:52pm
Paul...we are getting off topic but I'll indulge.

I have never asked a client that question because my clients don't care, nor do yours. They have little interest in where the candidate is sourced, so long as it's the best candidate and the candidate says "Yes". To make the blanket statement that the candidate sitting happy and pretty is the best is off the mark. Furthermore, I've grown weary of the argument that money is not a good reason to make a move. As a matter of fact, I just got a call from a candidate I placed years ago, hasn't had a raise in 3 because of a freeze...and is ready to make a move on that alone. And she should, because if she doesn't have what I call the Big 3 (money, title, and responsibility) in line, she will fall behind her peers and that can mean disaster for her development.

I never quite understood the whole "walk uphill in the now to school barefoot argument" but I agree, it's Okay to disagree.

PS...I checked out your website...if the best candidates are not on the market, as your tag line says, and you bring them to market, which now makes them on the market, are they still the best candidates? Sorry, but I'm always up for a spirited debate, no disrespect intended.
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 23, 2010 at 6:23pm
I fail to understand what it is you don't understand about that Statement .... Let me repeat it "The Best Candidates are Not on the Market " ... SVPs of HR I deal with get it and understand that statement. Lets look at the market for Actuaries the toughest search nationally in our Country coast to coast. You are not going to find any Actuary with any major experience on the market if he or her is any good with any specific expertise like say Group Benefits. If you found one any CFO is going to ask you why does he want to leave his $150k to $200k base job to come to my firm and trust me its not gonna be because you can pay $20k more ... In my world my candidates ask me why should they leave their current employer "Happy"... That is what I want to hear .... Before I even start to sell them on my client....

How are we off topic - "There never was, nor will there ever be a qualified candidate shortage" - if that is still the topic ..., In any niche market ( the need for my firm) where you are looking for highly trained professionals the quality talent pool are happily employed they need to be recruited you don't need to be an economics major to understand that... Yes you can get lucky finding the one off on the boards ... Our model works where our clients have failed to find folks from the boards as far as I am concern they don't need to call us if they can find them on the boards ... Perhaps we service different markets making your reality of the market differ from mine which is fine...
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 23, 2010 at 6:35pm
I forgot to answer your question ... Thanks for reading our website ... Yes the Best Candidates are off the Market ... When we recruit theses candidates the statement remains true they were never on the market- they leave because we have sold them on why the opportunity is going to be better for the next 3- 5 years. To clarify further our Company has no candidates applying for jobs or calling us for a roles, every call we make is an outgoing call to a specific candidate not on the market... Yes a Novel idea ... If we are on the phone its with a client who has had problems finding the right candidate and where our competitors have failed to deliver to our clients. Or we are on the phone to a candidate we pursued currently off the market.

If we have to provide more than 2 resumes per job requirement its on the request of the Client. I hope this provides a little more insight on our thought process with respect to this market place.
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 23, 2010 at 6:52pm
@Casey Id love to work in your world ... I work in a world where our clients have Internal Recruitment Teams doing your job every day looking for active candidates. What value would I bring to that customer if they utilize the same tools going after the same active candidate are we playing "who catches the candidate first game .... " If its for your basic $60k role then go nuts ... Yes unfortunately we can't ignore the active vs passive candidate markets conversation. This become even more serious when you are going after highly "difficult" specific requirements - the market I thrive in across industries.
Comment by Barbara Goldman on February 25, 2010 at 10:28am
The Elephant I refer to is the old story.

A blindman touches an elephant. First, he touches the tail. Oh, this is a fire hose. This animal must be shaped and look like a fire hose.

Then, he touches the tail, Hmmm. This is a different animal. This animal looks like a snake.

Then, he touches the legs, back etc, and with every different experience, the blind man sees a different animal.

Some of us use job boards with success, we may see that job boards provide all the candidates that we can handle. And, we are successful.

So, we may believe that job boards are the new answer, the WAY TO GO in recruiting.

Some of us have used job boards, but still can't find the person who has experience with bulk free radical polymerization, who is also someone who will take the job. (a candidate)

There is a difference between candidates and just people. People are abundant. Talent is not.

As far as our recruiting and persuasion skills, that goes without saying. If we weren't salespeople, we wouldn't close deals. But, that wasn't the issue. You said that there are plenty of candidates. From your perspective, yes there are. From my perspective it isn't the case.

Yes, my clients are sophisticated. So our yours.

Hi new friend :)

I've actually had over 25 years in the business, mostly scientific recruiting. My elephant is just different from yours, that's all.
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 25, 2010 at 11:09am
@Barbara You are so right .... I could not agree with you more ... You know you have a better perspective about this industry if you have been involved long before Job Boards came about...


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