Feedback from hundreds of job seekers, however, suggests the talent problem is in the Human Resources suite, where a troubling brand of clueless disdain for job applicants seems to destroy companies' reputation in the professional communities from which they need to recruit the workers they need.
Is there a problem with HR?
Shawn Gauthier - a copywriter and creative director in the advertising industry believes so.
He's one of the 155 million members of LinkedIn in the U.S. who turn to this "professional networking service" to find a good job match. But, like many frustrated LinkedIn users, Gauthier finds that this jobs-and-people database is more about robots than true networking.
Fed up with employers who solicit job applicants but then don't read their applications, Gauthier applied his considerable writing skills to create a compelling cover letter to apply for a job but was rejected. He received a "boilerplate rejection" letter. This clearly proved that the hiring manager had not read his cover letter.
The lesson Gauthier learned is trivial — that this "boilerplate rejection" practice is pervasive. LinkedIn's 155 million members have all been treated to such robo-rejections more times than they can count. And they're talking about it.
So is it really a talent shortage or just inefficient HR departments? The problem is not a talent shortage. HR itself is the reason so many companies can't fill jobs. Here are some solutions suggested by Gauthier:
What's the solution?
HR should stop posting jobs on cattle-call websites that generate 100s or 1000s of applicants. You want only a handful of the right ones. The job boards are not designed to do that, so stop using them. To ensure you can send personal letters to every applicant you reject, learn how to recruit fewer people by recruiting only the right people. This is not a numbers game unless you're gambling.
Stop relying on keyword job descriptions. Ever have a job that six months into it matched the job description you were hired for? The answer is always Never! Because job descriptions are fabrications of HR. So stop relying on keywords and on any kinds of job descriptions.
If you're going to recruit, then become expert in the work of the company teams you recruit for. Be able to mix it up with engineers, marketers, finance people, programmers and production line workers. Understand their work. Asking job candidates what's their greatest weakness and how they handled a difficult situation isn't interviewing. It's fake.
Recruiting means going out into the professional community where the people that you need to hire hang out, talk shop, learn, and teach one another. Everything else is nonsense, I know you know that. So stop pretending because some whitepaper published by some HR Consulting Shop told you to waste your time and money on Indeed or LinkedIn. Go out into the world and participate in the professional community you need to recruit from.
Make your hiring managers spend 20% of their time each week recruiting. If it's not worth it to them, then they're not managers. They're individual contributors. A manager's job is to recruit, hire, train, cultivate, enable, mentor and manage the people who do the work.
No matter who's doing the recruiting, do it all the time. Professionals always wonder when they should start their job hunt if their company is going to merge or get acquired in 6-18 months as jobs may be at risk. Right time would be "Two years ago." Likewise, you and your managers must be recruiting all the time. Posting jobs and waiting for "who comes along" isn't recruiting. It's lazy.
Do you believe job applicants are too much trouble? Then you're doing it wrong. You're not your company's solution to its problems and challenges. The people you're trying to hire are. Start treating them with respect all the time.
If you believe it's okay to insult and talk smack to job applicants, then get out of HR. The next time you feel like being snarky with a job applicant, quit your job.
You don't need headhunters to fill jobs. You need to be an active part of the professional community you need to recruit from and to cultivate sources and friends who trust you and that you trust. We all know how most jobs are found and filled: Personal contacts. So stop spending 99% of your recruiting budget on job postings. Start spending it by taking great candidates to dinner.
Please stop pretending! It looks very bad to those people your company desperately needs to hire. They tell their friends.
There is no talent shortage except in HR, where it's "a little difficult" to let the truth sink in. If you've got too many applicants that "need to be rejected," then you're soliciting too many of the wrong people — which means you are the problem and your recruiting methods are the problem.