Insight From Recruiters to Interview Your Best


I just returned from the Kennedy Information Recruiting trends conference in Las Vegas. Kennedy Information is the leading recruiting industry information company in the country. The conference was attended primarily by internal corporate recruiters. The following are some of my insights from the conference.

First and foremost recruiters are absolutely panic stricken about the rapidly evolving shortage of workers. The statistics are staggering and undeniable and the impending impact is easily modeled, unlike climate change. Here are some of the frightening statistics:

20% of the countries largest most established companies will be losing 40% or more of their top talent in the next 5 years (Development Dimensions International).

By 2030 the US will experience a labor shortage of 35 million workers (Employment Policy Foundation) Babyboomers, 32% of the population, are beginning to retire. According to one recruiter who is the head of recruiting and talent management for a global shoe company, US corporations are four years late in reacting to this demographic shift.

The second greatest concern, linked to the first, is the shortage of skilled and knowledgeable workers to fill the open technical positions. Even with sourcing efficiencies provided by the internet, there are many jobs which go unfulfilled. One recruiter spoke about taking twelve months to fill a Chief Technology Officer position.

Many recruiters are focused on “time to hire” and “cost to hire” metrics; getting buts in chairs as quickly and as cheaply as possible. They focus on these metrics because they are easy to measure and are often tied to performance objectives and ultimately bonuses. Thus, in many organizations recruiters are stuffing the pipeline with candidates the hiring managers ultimately reject. Recruiting thought leaders suggested strongly that the defining metric should be quality of hire and not time or cost.

There are huge generational differences in workers attitudes, loyalty, expectations, career goals and work life balance. Gen Y or the Milleniums need to be recruited and retained with substantially different approaches and programs. The head of recruiting and retention for a leading cable company stated she would be ecstatic if they could keep a Gen Y employee for five years. Gen Y is focused on work life balance, constant feedback and challenging work. If they don’t like what they are doing or if they feel they are not being challenged they simply move on.

The primary focus of recruiters is the “sourcing” of talent and selling the candidate on the job opportunity. Once located and put in the interview process by the recruiter, the hiring department and the hiring manager takes over the care and handling of the candidate. Many recruiters think the interview and selection process is in disrepair. Interviewing skills are lacking, the selection decision is very subjective, the process is inconsistent and it is much easier for hiring managers to say no than take a risk of hiring the wrong person. As a result good candidates are not selected, the hiring process takes a long time, and positions are vacant for prolonged periods of time.

Here are my take aways:

There are going to be a lot of open positions with scarce talent. Even with this shortage, the selection process will be as important as ever and companies will continue to be very selective. Companies are aware a bad hire is worse than no hire at all.

The interview process at most companies is poorly coordinated, subjective and designed to rule out rather than rule in candidates. Candidates should take more initiative to make sure their interview is a good one.

Workers will be changing jobs often (average of every 3.5 years) and their interview skills will play a larger role in their career success.

Career management will become increasingly important and will be the sole responsibility of the individual worker rather than shared with a long-term employer.

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