Employers - here’s more bad news: The DC job market is showing signs of returning to “normal.” While hiring for some jobs is easier now, “normal” for DC means that employers will have an increasingly difficult time finding highly qualified people to fill every critical opening.
The daily drumbeat of bad economic news that has pummeled us all since November is slowly letting up. Government recovery plans are taking shape, and government money will soon be flowing (yea!) Layoff notices are not coming quite so quickly. And a once in a generation hiring opportunity is slowly beginning to slip away from you. You are now missing one of the best chances to upgrade your workforce that you may ever experience.
I know hiring managers find this hiring difficulty both astonishing and really, really irritating. They want to upgrade to better people, they really do, but most just don’t know how. HR professionals (who are often short-staffed themselves) are hearing managers bitterly complain about their internal recruiting efforts:
“Are you kidding me? In the midst of the worst recession in twenty five years, we can’t find better candidates than this?”
“I can’t believe I have to pay a search fee in a recession? Seriously. Where are the good people?”
“Are you telling me that we received 300 resumes from our ad on Monster and only three are worth interviewing?”
So why didn’t this huge financial calamity, this Near Great Depression, this global fiasco make hiring easier for ALL of us here in DC?
Well the recession did make hiring easier, if you were looking for people to work in Detroit. Or if you were looking for construction workers, auto workers, or Wall Street types. But you aren’t looking for those people, now are you? No, you are looking for the same skills everyone else is, and those skills are still in relatively short supply, because very few firms in our area had big layoffs of people with really hard-to-find skills. (Circular logic, I know, but it’s still true.)
So what evil forces are conspiring against your recruiting efforts? Why are you still missing out on this once-in-a-generation hiring opportunity?
First, don’t confuse national unemployment rates with local unemployment rates. We are deeply fortunate to work in the strongest job market in the country - our unemployment rates for most occupations never really spiked. But to take it a step further, don’t confuse the macro unemployment rate with the number of highly qualified job seekers who have the skills you need to thrive in a recession. It’s a darn shame that thousands of unemployed auto workers don’t make it easier for you to hire your next CFO, but they don’t.
Second, “post and pray” job advertising does not work any better now than it did before - you just get 300 desperate unqualified people instead of 100 or 150. Sure you get a few gems in there, but not as many as you would expect, given that everyone tells us this is the worst economy they have ever seen.
But the biggest reason you are not seeing great people lining up to take your jobs, is you haven’t thought enough about who you want to hire yet. When you post a job without first taking the time to think hard about it, everybody who reads your ad can tell right away. And the person you want? That hard charging, no excuses, high achieving, go-getter who gets results in a recession? They are results oriented, so when they know you are not seriously thinking about your business, they do not even apply.
In the past few weeks I have had a dozen clients tell me the same thing, almost verbatim: ”We’ve been trying to hire someone on our own for several months now, and with the economy so bad, I really expected we would have filled it, but all I’m doing is sifting through resumes and nobody jumps out at me – I just don’t have time for this and I can’t afford to leave this critical position unfilled any longer.
Hey DC, welcome back to your “normal” irritatingly familiar ways.