Recruiting is always hard. It was certainly hard when the economy was booming. Ironically, it’s even harder when times are tough. Why do I say that? Well, in a recession, the volume of resumes from C players increases considerably while the volume of resumes from A Players typically remains the same.
Only Hire A Players
For the sake of this article I am going to assume that you have already bought into the philosophy of always trying to hire A players only because a team of Superstars is so much more productive, efficient, and self-regulating, that there is simply more time in a day. (with Superstars you don’t have to micromanage, you can delegate with confidence, you will meet deadlines, hit your monthly targets, and have more time in your personal life. That means you hold out for people that are great instead of settling for good. (A people are the best, C the worst, B-players are in the middle.)
The A Players on the Street
In a recession anyone can get laid off, including A players, but the greater majority of laid off employees tend to be C players. This is because the vast majority of companies are going to cut their lowest performers. Generally speaking, there are more C players in an organization than A or B players. Yes, there are exceptions to that rule, but they are rare.
A smart corporation would never let go of an A player unless their job function is completely eliminated. Given a choice between laying off a sales rep who exceeds quota and one that only meets quota occasionally, a smart company would retain the top performer. Again, there can be exceptions to this rule as well; there are some companies that cut their top performers for strange reasons, and so you may find an occasional A player on the streets.
Big Opportunity to Find That A Player
During an economic downturn, most A players are not likely to be looking to jump to a new company for various reasons. These Superstars are happy right where they are at, and they are not budging. Having said that, there are A players that are willing to jump ship. To keep Superstars happy, they need to be challenged, grow and innovate. Superstars NEED these things. Often, companies will shift into preservation mode during an economic downturn. It becomes difficult for those companies to retain their Superstars when this happens, and it opens the door for recruiters. Additionally, superstars are usually the first to leave a company when the layoffs begin. They do not feel they need a severance as they are confident they can quickly land on their feet.
More Volume but the Same Quality
No matter the economic state, Superstars are really hard to find. Let’s say that A players make up 1% of the qualified candidate pool, B players are 24%, and C-players make up the remaining 75%. I am not saying these numbers are accurate, but there definitely more C Players than B players and more B players than A players. If you post a job ad during this downturn you are going to get a massive flood of resumes from C players. Those C player resumes will be difficult to tell apart from those of the A players. You can never tell from just a resume. With the volume of unqualified candidates increasing, that will mean more work filtering through alphabet soup resumes and talking to more unqualified people. Even if you get more candidates you will have only increased B and C player resumes, and you are still searching for the same needle in a much bigger haystack (in the rare chance an A player did maybe apply to your job ad).
You will have to screen for the good people in the sea of mediocre people, unfortunately it is really hard to tell the difference between an A, B, or C player from just their resume. Which means you need to engage with candidates and therefore you’ll have far more candidates to deal with in this downturn. The recession will only massively increase your sorting of resume soup and you will still be hiring from the best of what happens to come along.
Where to Find A Players
Posting a job and praying you hire someone good is a strategic hiring error in good times or bad. This explains why the cost of posting a job is practically nothing. The actual cost of “recruiting” (or pretending to recruit) with job boards and applications is on the back end – the cost of time wasted with resume soup. Or worst, having another mis-hire.
The only way to prevent having to sort through a sea of incoming alphabet soup resumes is actually go out and recruit people. Great people are working right down the street. Pick up the phone and call them and try convincing them to meet with you. Not everyone you meet with will be a Superstar, but I guarantee the ratio of A players over C players will be substantially higher.
No one knows how long this economic downturn will last, but your company (and your career) needs more Superstars now more than ever.
If you are tired of wasting your time interviewing unemployed unqualified candidates presented to you by Human Resources or your favorite contingency recruiter, then you are beginning to understand why the conventional recruiting model is broken.
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