To Do List Concept


Given the up close and personal stake PACE has in our clients having a good understanding of a tight candidate marketplace, I’ve been blogging a lot on staffing trends and what they mean for employers in a staffing mode.  For our readers who’ve been active in the hiring marketplace for a while,  you’re already aware of how dramatically the hiring landscape has changed.   For hiring managers who haven’t been hiring for a while, the change between now and just a few years ago can be quite shocking!

As late as 2013, hiring managers were having their way in terms of who they hired and how.  Fast forward to 2016, and the marketplace is more like another country, with a new sheriff in town!  Not only are more employers hiring, but there are significant gaps between the talent employers want to hire, and the talent available in the candidate market.  And in these kinds of candidate short markets, sought after employees,  not employers,  are in charge of how hiring gets done.  Candidate behaviors have clearly changed, leaving many hiring managers not quite sure how to react.      

If you’re a hiring manager with plans to hire in next few months, here’s a short list of things you can do to prepare yourself for what lies ahead!

Hiring Idea #1 – Make sure your beliefs about the marketplace matches WHAT IS. 

This is our number one suggestion because it is the foundational change that makes all other “to dos” make sense.  It also represents a basic change in mindset that can be challenging for hiring managers who have no clue about what has changed since they last hired.

Okay recruiters – when was the last time you got a call like this from one of your hiring managers….

“I need to hire someone quickly to replace Betty who is leaving at the end of the month.  I would like to interview 5 candidates next Tuesday before I leave town.  Betty is going to be a tough act to replace, so want to make sure I hire the “perfect candidate” and after I see all the candidates, I will let you know who I’m hiring when I get back.  Hopefully you can get the paperwork started right away so the person can start the following Monday.”

So what is wrong with this picture?  These expectations?  This hiring manager’s beliefs about how the hiring process actually works in 2016, different from 2010?

After the perfunctory “are you kidding me”  reaction,  recruiters know its our job to help an “out of touch” hiring manager adjust to a marketplace where they can no longer order up a “unicorn like” employee like they would a “ham on rye.”

The Perfect Candidate?

The “starter” issue in this scenario is the belief that in this market (in any market really) it is possible to hire the “perfect” candidate – that “unicorn like” someone who will be “just like Betty.”  If you are a recruiter lucky enough to have 5 qualified candidates in your pipeline,  you know the chances that any one of the 5 would be a “perfect” replacement for Betty, is not that good.  But if you’re a hiring manager, you likely don’t know that your expectation of finding a “perfect” candidate in today’s market is unrealistic.  Nor do you understand that this disconnect is not only setting you up for disappointment, but will waste a lot of valuable hiring time (yours and your recruiters) in the trying.

In today’s hiring marketplace, its all about hiring a great candidate who comes closest to meeting your talent needs – not going for the “unicorn like” candidate.

The Difference Between Can Do and Wanna Do

Of the candidates in your recruiter’s hip pocket who “can do” the job, their reality is that very few of those candidates will actually “want to do” the job.  This is a relatively new issue forHiring Managers who have been used to reviewing multiple candidates for each job, with each candidate ready and willing to be hired – regardless of the work content, environment, pay, or work location.  In 2010, an efficient recruiter could contact 5 candidates to arrange 5 interviews and 1 hire in a very short period of time.   In 2016, your recruiter must spend a lot more time finding candidates and will need to call 10 of them to  arrange 2 interviews and still not get a candidate to accept an offer.

In a candidate short marketplace, recruiters are just like you – working harder for fewer results.   And we know that hiring managers who have enjoyed the luxury of interviewing  5,  are often not mentally prepared to make a hiring decision from only one or two candidates.  We also know how easy it is for you to blame your recruiter for all that’s wrong with your staffing process.   Not so fast kimosabe.

Even Arranging Interviews These Days Takes Time!

For as much as we understand this hiring manager’s request for “back to back interviews next Tuesday”, as recruiters, our reality is candidates are no longer able or willing to drop everything to interview at other’s convenience.  Candidates have their own schedules.  They are traveling.  They are busy interviewing elsewhere.  More importantly, they have come to expect the employer to adjust their schedules to meet their needs, not vice versa.  Hiring Managers who cannot make make themselves available to interview at the candidate’s convenience, not theirs, are often unable to compete for the best candidates.  We see it all the time, and wonder about the impact on their work unit’s performance of jobs going unfilled.

The PACE of Hiring

No PACE pun intended, but one thing we know is that employers no longer have full control over how fast or slow the hiring process has to be in order to hire right.   A hiring manager who interviews on Tuesday but doesn’t know who they will hire until the following week, is likely not going to be able to hire the candidate they chose.   Hiring managers who continue to  believe that candidates will just deal with long delays in the hiring process like they once did, will continue to be frustrated by job openings going unfilled.    

So all said and done, here’s the take home for Hiring Managers – You are no longer in charge which means you either adjust your mindset to fit a very changed hiring landscape or set yourself up for constant disappointment, frustration, and some very mixed hiring results.

Hiring Idea #2 – Make sure you set aside enough time to MOVE QUICKLY. 

The hiring process is no longer a process where you can post your job opening on Monday,  collect a stack of resumes for a couple of weeks, and select candiates to interview when you get around to it.  In today’s marketplace, successful hiring managers move quickly.   The best candidates do not sit on the “shelf” long.

We’ve seen too many hiring managers lose good candidates simply because they have been slow to get candidate’s thru a too long and too beurocratic screening and evaluation process. If there are any steps in your evaluation process that don’t add value to your hiring decision, stop doing them!

Hiring Idea #3 – Explore ways to source candidates with the talent you need – not just specific skills or experience.

In today’s candidate short marketplace,  hiring managers who learn how to identify and select employees based on their talent, not just their skills and experience, enjoy some special benefits.  First of all they get to look more closely at candidates most of their competitors have passed by.   They will uncover talent they would’t have guessed was there by relying on screening crtieria crafted too tightly.  As a rule of thumb,  in today’s marketplace hiring managers have to look for ways to “screen in” not “screen out” potential job candidates.

Hiring Idea # 4 – Plan ahead for a much longer recruiting process.

With the time it takes to hire expanding, its important to launch your hiring campaigns earlier, not later.   The time it takes to find “hard-to-find” candidates has doubled if not tripled since 2013, making it impossible to hire as quickly as you once did.  Plan your staffing strategies carefully, allowing plenty of time to hire right.   Also consider taking a more proactive approach.  Rather than starting a new recruit each time you hire, hiring managers who are in an “always interviewing mode” – building up a “bench” of potential candidates prior to need – can hire quickly, geting a head start on the race for talent.

Hiring Idea #5 – Consider alternative staffing configurations and strategies. 

A candidate short marketplace requires hiring managers to push the box on what’s possible – looking for new ways to get work done.

Some full time jobs can be more easily staffed if they were engineered differently.  If the talent you need for one part of a job does not line up with the talent you need on another part of the job, it may be time to look at the position differently – either turning it into two parttime jobs, or re engineering work content to fit the skill sets more available in the current candidate marketplace.

Some jobs lend themselves to temp to hire recruiting strategies that can augment your efforts to hire employees directly.  Even though temporary staffing agencies face the same recruiting challenges you do, they often have access to different communities of candidates that can expand your candidate pool.

Hiring Idea # 6 – Partner with (not blame) your recruiter.  

For as tempting as it is to blame your recruiter for all things that are now wrong about your hiring results, if you are viewing your recruiting team as “the problem” rather than working with them on solutions, you are likely creating more angst for yourself and your recruiter than is deserved.  I am not saying that any recruiting process can’t be improved, but hiring managers who expect the hiring process to work the same in 2016 as it did in 2012 are likely not looking at the current marketplace realistically.   Collaboration not blame is what is needed.  Enuf said.

Jeanne Knutzen


This article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network, a leading Northwest staffing company who has been helping  local employers find and hire high talent employees for over 40 years.  For additional ideas on how you can tackle the current marketplace – find and hire the employees you need for your 2016 business plan – contact the PACE team at 425-637-3312 or by e mailing

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