Five Reasons Hiring Top Talent May Be More Difficult Than You Realize in 2011

Publisher:  We’ve all been hearing of signs that the economy is starting to turn the corner a little, and that more people are finding jobs. With the start of the New Year, we thought we’d get a sense for what the industry faces in its staffing issues going into 2011.  Who better to turn to then the leading recruiting group for the industry – Hawthorne Executive Search, and it’s President – Robert Hawthorne. Because Hawthorne Search works with such a wide variety of clients both internal to the industry and externally across the greater local search spectrum, Hawthorne gets a unique picture from both the macro level, as well as deep in the trenches during their daily conversations with clients and candidates.  Here is Robert’s view of what 2011 holds for hiring.


Five Reasons Hiring Top Talent May Be More Difficult Than You Realize in 2011

Your business has survived one of the largest economic downturns of the past seventy five years.  You did all the right things, which included reducing staff size and doubling up employee workloads instead of adding to staff when things started to pick up.

Now that you believe the clouds are parting and there may be some growth on the horizon you are ready to hire a few key individuals on your team.  You open up your internet browser and are bombarded with articles trumpeting the 9.8% unemployment rate.

Armed with this information you believe that you can get a Porsche on a Buick budget.  Candidates will be begging to come to work for you and can interview dozens until that magical candidate finally grabs the golden ring.

Unfortunately the reality is far different from this employer driven ideal.  Yes, unemployment remains mired near 10% but you need to think about who you want to hire and keep these five things in mind when looking to hire:

Reason #1 hiring is going to be challenging in 2011:  The unemployment rate for those with a four year degree or higher is under 6%. If you are looking to hire a high school graduate for a line manufacturing job the odds are pretty high you can pick and choose, but if you are looking for a white collar professional with a four year degree or higher in most industries, the true unemployment rate is quite low.  “Full employment” is considered by most economists around 5% and  the current rate is under 6% for those you are pursuing, you can do the math.

Reason #2:  Moving for a job is nearly impossible.  We live in a fairly transient society where many individuals are willing to leave their city for a good job in another market.  During the boom days of the real estate market, it was fairly easy to list your house, sell it, and start a new job in a month or two.  Today, with many individuals underwater on their mortgages and a limited number of qualified buyers available, many professionals are landlocked by their mortgage.  If you are trying to recruit a product manager from your competitor who is based in Dallas to move to your Denver office,  be prepared to either wait for months for that person to sell their house, or be prepared to pay their rent until they can sell the house back home.

Reason #3: The candidates you are pursuing are reading the same articles detailing an uptick in hiring that you read.  They have weathered the storm at their jobs and now realize it might be a good time to explore the market.  Count on these individuals having multiple suitors and not jumping at an initial offer.  Hiring tends to come in “waves” and 2011 may be a wave year.

Reason #4: Individualism now thriving.  Countless articles have been written about professionals who have used their downsizing as an opportunity to start their own business.  I personally know of a dozen or more candidates of ours who have hung out their own shingle in order to make a living.  Yes, some of these folks will jump at the chance to re-enter corporate America, but many will want to maintain their newfound freedom and flexibility.  Getting these folks to jump back into structured hours at a physical office with multiple staff meetings and bosses may not be as easy as you would imagine.

Reason #5: Same as before the employment crash, you are lacking one or more of the 3 C’s.  You aren’t cool, you don’t offer enough compensation, or you can’t help the career climb.  Today’s employee is looking for a growing company in a “hot” market that can help them keep their skills on the leading edge.  In addition they want a salary increase if they are going to leave the perceived stability of their current employer.  Finally, most individuals will want to know where this position can take them in your organization.  If you aren’t paying market rate, have advancement opportunities, or on the leading wave of your industry, you are going to have a difficult time landing an “A” player.

When you and your staff set out to hire this quarter realize that while you may have a great opportunity for someone, you will need to recruit the talent you want, not just select.

Coming Soon: Five Ways You Can Stand Out When Trying To Hire


Robert Hawthorne has been leading a national recruiting practice for the past fifteen years, working primarily with interactive and online media companies, as well as with consumer driven internet organizations.  He can be reached at or (910) 798-1800 x101



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