08 October, 2010

Attention Employers And Staffing Companies: Sometimes The Talent You Seek Comes In A Package You Don't Expect

A Parkersburg, WV -based staffing company with an office in Charleston recently scored a public relations coup by getting one of those you-can't-buy-this-kind-of-publicity stories written by Eric Eyre (http://wvgazette.com/News/201009241072).

The thrust of the story was that staffing agencies actually have jobs they can't fill - even in this jobless recovery.

According to marketing executive, Christian Kager, companies are "having a hard time finding qualified individuals willing to work."

I wonder if Kager has considered another reason why open jobs may be going unfilled: so-called staffing coordinators who don't know how to staff and recruiters who don't know how to recruit and front-line HR people who don't realize - or don't care - that sometimes the talent they need is literally looking them in the eye but comes in a package they didn't expect or aren't willing to advance to the next level of the employment process.

As some of my close friends and clients know, I have earned some ridiculous fees finding and recruiting talent and here's what I have observed: qualified people apply for the job but can't get past the HR gatekeeper because he or she is too black, too fat, too old or too gay or too (insert your prejudice here). I have collected 5-figure headhunting fees for "finding" candidates that my clients actually had a chance to hire but had rejected. I know a prestigious law firm that instructed its HR Director not to hire anybody who is "fat, black or ugly."

Take older workers , for example. Workers in their 50s remind front-line staffing coordinators and entry-level HR people of their parents. These twenty-something gatekeepers - let's say it like it is - use their jobs to stock their company with the kind of people they want to socialize with so when the talent they need comes to them in a package that looks like their parents, well, the hiring manager never knows about these older applicants because the twenty-something gatekeeper finds some way to disqualify them.

What's the solution? Simple: get some older workers in the gatekeeping positions. And while you're at it, get some black people and some gay people and some physically challenged people into gatekeeping positions.

If all your staffing coordinators and first-level interviewers are young and white you're going to have a hard time "finding" talent that isn't young and white.

And while you're at it, hire some staffing coordinators and some first-screeners who know how to evaluate candidates who have executive backgrounds, scientific backgrounds and technical backgrounds.

For more on this subject see my "There's No Whining In Recruiting" which first appeared in Business Lexington and later in this blog. Click here to read "There's No Whining In Recruiting". :: http://higginbothamatlarge.blogspot.com/2009/10/theres-no-whining-in-recruiting.html

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