Misguided recruiting strategies adding to the talent deficit

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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July 29, 2011

I just read a couple of disturbing articles that underscore some of the ways companies are struggling to deal with the new reality of recruiting today.

The first was a New York Times article, "The Help-Wanted Sign Comes with a Frustrating Asterisk," that makes a point about companies actively discouraging the long-term unemployed from applying for open positions. Basically, these are job postings that say they only want applications from those who currently have a job or were recently employed.

The second was a blog post by the author of that article, Catherine Rampell, on the New York Times blog Economix, titled "Discriminating Against the Unemployed." In this piece, Rampell goes further to suggest that this trend could lead to hiring more unqualified employees.

Apart from the possible discrimination and general unfairness this practice represents, it also screams to me that these companies have no idea how to source or recruit good employees. I can only guess that they were receiving too many resumes from unqualified people, many of whom were among the ranks of the unemployed for over 52 weeks -- a number that has been noticeably rising as the recovery lags.

So someone at these companies decided that a good way to stem the tide of unwanted applicants would be to try to discourage them from applying in the first place. And their criteria? "Hey, if you've been without a job for a long time, you need not apply," was their answer.

This is a great example of how managing an effective sourcing and recruiting process is not for everyone. If you are thinking that you can simply change the wording in a job posting or post to a hundred job sites to find good people, you are barking up the wrong tree. If you don't have the right resources in place, simply cutting down on the number of applicants won't help either.

As we've written before, we're seeing an unprecedented talent deficit starting to take shape in companies today. Practices like this won't make the situation any better. In fact, things like this reveal what might be a startling lack of understanding among companies looking for talent today.

There might be many qualified people among the long-term unemployed, but that's not the point. The point is that you need to leverage multiple sources and strategies to get the right people in the door. The right people based on skills, qualifications, fit, and potential -- not necessarily how long it's been since their last job.

This type of thinking is part of the reason many companies are seeing a talent deficit. Relying on old tactics like job postings or "we're a really big company, so people will automatically want to work for us," is not going to work any more.

Someday soon, the job seekers might turn this on its head and start asking companies, "Why has this position been open so long? What's wrong with your company?"

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Topics: HR Strategies

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