What is heard often from recruiters over a drink at happy hour in Anytown, USA is the lack of qualified candidates in the marketplace. Let the increasing population, demise of entire industries, the worst recession and employment landscape in our lifetime and the invent of easier and more efficient ways to source qualified candidates, some of these recruiters may find a solution by simply making a few more phone calls. Aside from those, I subscribe that we are not and have never been in a qualified candidate shortage; here is why.
The economics of the workforce prevent it:
Last I checked, we work for money. The value of every employee category is measured by the same parameters we learned in Economics 101; price (or in this case, salary) is driven by supply and demand. Barring government interference, the market is quite efficient at determining the value of an employee. If any particular
employee category is imbalanced, organic market forces take over and reset in a relatively short time. For example, if there is a shortage of farm workers and the demand remains the same, salaries will go up and
employees who would have otherwise gone into another profession might consider farm work until the balance is met. As this is occurring another profession is losing potential employees so over time the same will happen…and on and on.
Overseas Outsourcing actually creates a glut in some categories:
Whether it’s manufacturing, customer support, legal assistance, collections, etc., we all know highly skilled, talented individuals who have been displaced by companies outsourcing these functions overseas to a
cheaper labor market. In these categories a glut of qualified talent has actually driven salaries down and
they will remain so until the market is able to absorb the inventory. But they still are qualified.
So why do efficient and competent recruiters in a balanced capitalistic environment feel there is a shortage of qualified candidates? Answer: the number of qualified candidates has always and will always remain relatively steady; it’s simply the number of resumes one must sift through to reach that candidate that gives the
appearance of a qualified candidate shortage.
Blame email and the Internet?
Before the Internet: If you were an active job seeker before the Internet you would first buy the (insert city here) Sunday Times, pull out the massive employment section, pour a large cup of coffee and start circling. Then you would have to type each individual cover letter and either head to the post office or march to the
nearest Kinko’s and start faxing, which in those days got quite expensive.
In this ancient time recruiters needed to spend years developing their contacts and maintaining their Rolodex. They would spend hours on the phone going from department to department trying to convince gatekeepers to give them viable information to build a somewhat reliable org chart.
After the Internet: In an instant the ease with which one could acquire information, find jobs and apply removed all traditional barriers that required significant applicant effort. With one click job seekers could apply to hundreds of jobs all before the 12 pm pregame. Click away!
The advancement of technology and social networks now allow recruiters to build entire org charts in a matter of hours. No need to pretend you were the editor of CFO today and were interested in writing an article about your controller, “What is his name, again”?
You can't blame the machine or technology. Job seekers have always inherently known if they are qualified for a particular position. But with the barriers removed, why not give it a shot? Job seekers send their resumes to
jobs they are unqualified for because they can. They do so in the hopes that the recipient may have something
else they are working on where they are qualified. This volume then dilutes the number of qualified candidates
but doesn’t change their numbers.
So it’s not that there is a shortage of qualified candidates, it just feels that way.
Keep plugging away, the qualified candidates are out there!