Message to Unemployed White Collars: It's Not The Economy Stupid, It's The Hiring Practices

by Jenkins, Eva Tuesday, May 09, 2006
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Slipshod hiring practices, managers and ineffective corporate recruitment policies are to blame for white-collar professionals unable to find work

“White collar professionals who can’t find work in the 21st Century shouldn’t blame the economy only,” says Eva Jekins of VIP Innovations. She cites “incompetent corporate recruiting practices” and “under-trained, over-tasked hiring managers who don’t prioritize the importance of the hiring process enough to focus or take the time to define the position itself rather than the person in the position.”

Where Have All The People Gone?
Today’s marketplace is experiencing high job turnover rates and a prevalence of unfilled jobs. And the future looks bleak. “In the next five years, a Baby Boomer retirement wave is going to leave many companies high and dry,” says Jenkins.

Jenkins prescription for companies whose hiring practices are ailing is “training, training, and more training of hiring managers; for recruiting departments, review, revamp and streamline current hiring processes” she says. She believes that management training should include a heavy emphasis on the hiring and interviewing process, but adds that, “A very specific training program aimed at retention is critical.”

Businesses that fail to reevaluate their recruitment processes and develop strategies “to respond effectively to increased demand in a decreased pool of skilled labor” are likely to be doomed. Unfortunately, she says, “some corporate cultures do not emphasize these types of training experiences for their managers.” The result is constant turnover and reduced productivity.

Jenkins urges HR decision-makers to “change their thinking of hiring to hunting” and to focus on “consistent measurable results.” She suggests that strategies be put into place to “obtain and retain the best candidates, not just qualified applicants.”

Who’s Minding the Store?
“Human Resources professionals have their priorities skewed,” comments Jenkins. “They appear to be consumed with cost-per-hire, total recruiting fees paid and how ‘fast’ someone is hired. However, the quality of the new hires, and the long-term value or cost to the company of hiring a mediocre applicant is completely overlooked.”
It’s literally a vicious cycle. “The people who hold jobs in HR and corporate recruiting came up in the same flawed system they work for.” Misfocused and under-trained, “they ensure that ineffective recruiting processes prevail.”

The Culprits
Armed with superb resumes and impeccable qualifications, white-collar professionals now comprise one-fifth of all unemployed workers. “That’s double the rate from a decade ago, and they’re staying unemployed longer than before, too.”

Who are the culprits? “Humans and technology are both to blame,” says Jenkins. She says that “rather than using technology as an addition to the toolkit required in making hiring and placement decisions, it’s become a substitute for thinking.”

There is still an alarming majority of corporate recruiters who “don’t actively source or market jobs. And they don’t bother to explore or define job competencies, either.” They simply retrieve resumes with certain ‘key’ words and then pass them on to the hiring managers.

The Referrals from Above
Jenkins also has concerns about hiring managers who seem more concerned with filling a hole than with filling a position with a qualified employee. One of the biggest stumbling blocks revolves around people who come as referrals from their senior management.

“It doesn’t matter whether they fit into the company culture, have the necessary skill sets, or will mesh well with other members of the team. All that matters is that the job is filled and the person making the referral is happy. Of course the happiness is short-lived when the new employee is fired for being incompetent or quits because the job isn’t what he or she thought it would be.”

The Right Candidate for the Job
According to Jenkins, staffing professionals frequently overlook the “diamond in the rough” of an above-average candidate with superior qualifications. “All too often, people allow their emotional responses to override their judgment,” she explains. In the end, they wind up choosing candidates who have mastered the art of being interviewed, rather than people are have mastered the skills required for the job they’ll do.

Feelings, prejudices and intuition can easily override judgment. “If a candidate is not a seasoned interviewer with dazzling presentation skills, he or she may easily be overlooked.”

The irony is that “It’s frequently the people with the most impressive credentials who are least impressive in an interview and do not possess the perfect resume loaded with just the right ‘key’ words for retrieval.”