Hard to fill, or just hard to find?

A recent article on the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18400556 got me
thinking. The article was about Employers being cautious with regards to hiring in 2012. This article
was based on work carried out by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG,
they asked 2100 employers and 400 recruitment companies what their employment outlook was.
To cut a long story short, the article was saying that employers were being cautious about hiring and
that data suggested there was a slowdown in the UK. Manpower, the general barometer of the
recruitment industry in the UK said only 1% of employers were thinking of hiring. Cripes!

I’m not sure I completely agree with these figures, well certainly not within our sector which is IT,
Engineering and Sales. A good number of employers we speak to are hiring, they have open
positions with a real desire to fill them. The problem is finding qualified candidates, especially those
top tier candidates. At face value you’d think in the middle of a recession like this it’d be easy to find
good people, think again! This was the same as the recession of 2001 – 2003 which hit the IT sector
very hard. We had the awful events of the 9/11 terror attacks and the bust of the Dot Com bubble,
both at the same time. But good candidates were hard to find and employers were struggling to fill
critical roles.

What I'm saying is that general economic conditions are important to the wider business world, but
good people are always going to be hard to find, recession or not. In almost all recessions top
performers remain employed; it’s the less business critical people that are made redundant. That’s
not to say they aren’t good at their jobs, it just that companies can make do without them while the
storm rages. If you think about it, it makes complete sense, in hard times are you going to lay off
your best people?

My feelings on the BBC article are that employers are nervy about the wider economic outlook, euro
zone problems, Greece needing a bailout, Spain now needing a bail out. So naturally people are
bracing themselves for a 2nd round of woe. When employers are asked if they’re thinking about
hiring the knee jerk reaction is ‘no’ or ‘wait and see’, but if the right candidates comes along I think
that would rapidly turn into ‘yes’.

Views: 402

Comment by bill josephson on June 20, 2012 at 9:07am



There are, indeed, jobs out there.  There are candidates out there.  The issue, I've found, in my 30+ years experience is in good economic times the employers are more flexible in their criteria.  In tougher times like these their hiring criteria is far more stringent.  My typical assignment in good times requires a candidate being able to fulfill 70-80% of the job with that 20-30% they don't already have the incentive for them to make a change.  In these times candidates typically, in my experience, are required to have 90%+ of the job's requirements as the employer believes all sorts of superstars are out there looking and the candidates see little reason for making a change with negligible gain by accepting the job.

Comment by Dan Hunter on June 20, 2012 at 9:08am

Thats an interesting point Bill, also one i'd be inclined to agree with.

Comment by bill josephson on June 20, 2012 at 10:04am

One last point, Dan.

I specialized in I/T from 1983-2003.  Found the market stagnant in 2001--little hiring little laying off.  2002 I saw the dramatic change of massive layoffs combined with ramping up of offshore outsourcing to Bangalore, India particularly, US workers training their Indian replacements, and increased foreign technical worker H1B visas coming here as my Corporate America clients here in the states dried up.  HR departments going from 86 to 10, 59 to 3. 

We went from a 750,000 techie shortage in 2000 to a 2 Million techie surplus in 2003.  Rough times I experienced first hand.

Comment by Dan Hunter on June 20, 2012 at 10:07am

Do you still do Techy recruitment now?

Comment by bill josephson on June 20, 2012 at 10:40am

Several of my former I/T corporate side contacts moved into the hot Defense Engineering sector in latter 2003 taking me with them even though I knew nothing about it--they insisted they'd train getting me up to speed.  So I migrated there.  Past 3 years Obama's been hostile towards defense spending on futuristic systems causing hiring/spending paralysis so after experiencing I/T slowdown 10 years ago it's been re-created in the Defense industry.........and you hate to keep jumping around from discipline to discipline as with the technology and competition speeding things up you become at a competitive disadvantage without the network to recruit from/through.


I'd love a chance to do International recruiting as there's no question the US as a most favorable destination for jobs era is passe with many international areas more attractive due to cost of doing business combined with intelligent labor.


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