Turn the Corner on Confident Hiring

Sunday, March 10, 2013

As we enter the holiday season, businesses (both big and small) are gearing up for their annual hiring crunch. Last year, businesses hired more than 10,000 seasonal employees, and this year the number is projected to be more. Traditionally, most of the people hired are let go immediately after the New Year’s returns are restocked on the store shelves. However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope that many of these seasonal hires will “go permanent.” A recent survey by the Hay Group Consulting Firm revealed that as many as 43% of the businesses who normally hire seasonal workers will hire fewer temporary employees and hire permanently instead. This is great news as the survey results suggest that hiring managers are feeling more confident. The $64,000 question is……does this confidence in the retail industry translate equally to all other industries?

This writer suggests that it should. As discussed in past posts, hiring managers need to be aware of the vacancy cost for each position that remains open. To simplify it (and not get too “wonky”), every day a job stays open is a day that the company loses money. If it’s that simple, than why does it seemingly take forever (sarcasm intended) for hiring managers to post positions, review resumes, interview candidates, complete reference checks, etc.?

The reason this process is belabored has more to do with the “permanence” mindset than anything else. What other explanation can be made as to why temporary (or seasonal) hires are made significantly quicker than permanent hires? When confronted with pulling the trigger on a permanent hire, many hiring managers suffer from “analysis paralysis.” It appears that permanent positions, especially those in other services sectors (i.e. professional), cause more consternation for hiring managers than most other employment types/industries.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “permanent” as “continuing or enduring without fundamental or marked change.” With that definition in mind, why is hiring a candidate for a permanent position seemingly so difficult? If the numbers of open positions listed on job boards are an indication, then the employers’ needs are there (of course, conspiracy theorists believe that hiring managers simply post positions in an effort to “build their database,” i.e. no real open positions exist). Notwithstanding, it is safe to assume that most positions listed are for employers that truly have a need.

Now that we have the “demand,” do we have the “supply”? Given the current national unemployment rate, supplying talent can be a non-issue. So what’s the problem? The problem, from this writer’s perspective, is that hiring managers have a conundrum; namely, if they make a quick hire and the candidate fizzles out, the hiring manager bears the brunt of the criticism (for not doing thorough-enough screening). If the hiring manager takes his/her time to make a hire, the company suffers from the “cost of vacancy” problem, and the hiring manager bears the brunt of the criticism (for the delay has cost the company money). While this is a no-win proposition, it certainly appears that hiring managers are erring on the cost of vacancy side.

The answer to that $64,000 question comes down to one thing…..confidence. While seasonal hiring managers seem to be confident, there is, and continues to be, a lack of confidence by other industry hiring managers. They are not confident in making quick hires, and they are not confident in a long protracted process. Because they lack conviction, it appears that hiring managers are waiting for the perfect candidate, which all experienced recruiters know does not exist. The irony of this decision is that even when the “perfect candidate” is found, there is no guarantee as to long-term viability.

This “confidence” issue can and will be resolved by hiring managers working together with the recruitment team to find the balance between hiring too quickly or taking to too long. If working with an outside vendor, hiring managers need to discuss the both the hard specifications (experience etc.), as well as the soft ones (i.e. team interaction etc.) and how both will bridge the gap to make the hiring process easy, fast and thorough. Once that is done, we can look forward to pre-recession hiring levels.


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