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What the Federal Reserve doesn’t know about recruiters

In the March 14, 2017 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, we look at what some economists at the Federal Reserve say about jobs.

federal reserveRecent reports from the Federal Reserve suggest that switching jobs — and probably employers — is the best way to boost your salary and your career.

In this special edition, we’ll explore what the Federal Reserve doesn’t know about recruiters, and why you should stay away from recruiters who waste your time with been-there-done-that jobs and lower salaries.

Are recruiters killing careers and the economy?

The best recruiters and headhunters boost employers’ productivity by finding discounted talent and up-and-coming talent to fill jobs those people may not have done before. By stimulating capable job candidates with new, motivating career challenges, insightful recruiters help create value for an employer — and boost our economy.

But untrained, inept recruiters lack insight and foresight. They don’t bother to understand an employer’s future needs or a job candidate’s untapped potential. They look for quick and easy “perfect matches” turned up by automated recruiting algorithms. These keyboard jockeys do little but process resumes whose key words match key words in job descriptions. They add no value. They kill career growth and job productivity.

Inept recruiters far outnumber good ones, and that’s killing our economy. Companies aren’t filling jobs with the best hires. But the fault lies with employers themselves, and with Human Resources executives, who buy — hook, line and sinker, and at enormous cost — the reductionist job applicant sorting systems that drive hiring today. (See Why HR should get out of the hiring business.)

New research and analysis from Federal Reserve economists reveals a problem of mismatches between workers, salaries and productivity, but fails to identify and discuss the structural cause of the problem — counter-productive recruiting.

The mad rush to fill jobs mindlessly

With the Department of Labor reporting lower unemployment and increasingly scarce talent, employers are rushing to fill jobs by relying on methods that yield staggeringly low signal-to-noise ratios.

By design, these systems actively solicit as many applicants as possible for each job. (Consider the applicant funnel ZipRecruiter, which exhorts HR managers to post a job on “one hundred-plus job sites.”) The ease with which these systems enable and encourage job seekers to apply for any job in a mindless feeding frenzy contributes to understandably low yields. Then HR managers, who fail to realize that more is not better, claim to be shocked and cry “talent shortage.”

When matches are made, they’re often undesirable to the candidate. It’s a common complaint among Ask The Headhunter readers: Employers want to hire you for a job only if you’ve done that job for three, four or five years already — and they’ll often pay you less. Even when they offer you a raise, the job is usually a lateral move. It’s not a career opportunity or a chance for you to hone new skills  — it’s just an easy database match.

This seems to be much more than a job-seeker frustration. According to economists reporting from several branches of the Federal Reserve, it may be one of the causes of inflation and lower productivity. (See Bloomberg Businessweek: Job Switchers Solve An Inflation Mystery.)

But the economists don’t attempt to explain why employers are making such short-sighted, self-defeating hiring decisions — and I think it’s because the problem is so pervasive that it’s invisible. Although job seekers have long been very vocal and angry about it, the backdrop of reductionist, rude, automated recruiting across America seems to be such a necessary evil that no one but the job seeker sees or questions it. (See HR Technology: Terrorizing the candidates.)

The compelling need to fill jobs obscures the importance of planning to hire strategically and wisely — not just to fill round holes with round pegs quickly. American companies seem unaware of their mad rush to fill jobs mindlessly, and economists seem content to accept the prevalent recruiting infrastructure without reviewing it, simply because employers are content to keep paying for it.

This seems to be what the Fed’s economists don’t know about recruiters and the job market.

The failure is on the front line

Job seekers report wasting enormous amounts of time today fielding fruitless recruiting inquiries and participating in interviews for the wrong jobs. The question arises:

Why do employers look for perfect matches between workers and jobs?

The assumptions behind this quixotic search are incorporated into the ads that candidate vendors like Indeed, LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter run constantly:

  • Employers must hire without training anyone or allowing time for a learning curve.
  • Perfect hires are best.
  • Talent can be had at a discount.
  • Employers don’t have time to find talent on their own.
  • Every job can be posted to “a hundred-plus” job boards instantly.
  • “Big data” makes perfect hiring possible.
  • More job applicants is better.
  • And so on.

These assumptions push employers head-long into automated recruiting. But when we start questioning those assumptions, we’re left with the boots on the ground that create the biggest constraint on hiring the best talent: Inept recruiters on the front line.

When complex factors make it difficult to suss out what triggers the choices business people make, I get lazy. Though I’m not a scientist, I was trained as one, and I find that even if a problem seems complicated, it’s best to start with the law of parsimony: The simplest explanation is probably the right one.

If employers had better recruiters, they’d hire better people, increase productivity and stimulate the economy.

Yet, an employer’s first contact with an engineer, a scientist, a software developer, a machinist, an accountant — anyone the employer needs to hire — is through a person who is probably the least likely to understand qualities and characteristics that make the candidate the best one for the employer. It’s a person least likely to understand the work and the job. Except in rare, wonderful cases where employers have very good recruiters, it’s an incompetent recruiter.

Because employers believe they now have “intelligent applicant systems” at their disposal, many (I think most) dispense with highly trained and skilled recruiters. Employers on the whole have unsophisticated, untrained recruiters who quickly eliminate the best candidates because they’re rewarded for making the easy choices, not the best ones.

The Federal Reserve connects the dots between talent, pay and productivity

Bet you’ve been waiting to see how the Fed fits into this. Let’s dive in.

The job boards say employers can hire the best talent for less money because their databases are bottomless and the perfect candidate is in there, if you just keep looking.

But the Federal Reserve says higher productivity coupled with better career opportunities and higher salaries is better for everyone — and for the economy.

Consider the ambitious little Bloomberg Businessweek article referenced earlier, Job Switchers Solve An Inflation Mystery, that deftly puts the jobs puzzle together:

“Labor economists… are increasingly studying how job-hopping Americans drive compensation gains and affect the traditional interplay of low unemployment, wage gains, and inflation.”

It turns out those economists are now focused on what we already know: The surest way to get a big salary boost is to change employers and stretch yourself.

Consider this handful of factoids and data cited by Bloomberg, from economists at the Chicago Fed, the Atlanta Fed, the New York Fed, and the St. Louis Fed:

  • “23 percent of employees are actively looking for another job on any given week, putting in four or five applications over a four-week period.”
  • “Employers are poaching workers, as 27 percent of offers to the employed are unsolicited.”
  • “Job switchers earned 4.3 percent more money in July 2016 than a year earlier, while people who remained in the same job enjoyed only a 3 percent increase.”
  • “The so-called quit rate, a favorite indicator of [Fed Chair Janet] Yellen that measures voluntary separations from an employer… has almost recovered to levels seen before the recession of 2007-2009.”
  • “Job-to-job changes and the threat of job-to-job mobility are strongly predictive of wage increases.”
  • “Job switching is ‘a good sign for the economy’ and ‘an indication of dynamism,’ according to the [Atlanta] Fed’s [President Dennis] Lockhart.”

And note this nugget of gold in the Bloomberg story:

“While [St. Louis Fed economist David] Wiczer said that the bulk of wage hikes occur from job switching, he cautioned that the gains are highly cyclical, as the median job switcher didn’t reap much of a salary increase during recessions.”

What this means to you: With the economy shifting from recession to inflation, your best bet to make more money today is to switch jobs. I’ll stick my neck out and say that my reading of the Fed analysis — and my own experience and reports from Ask Headhunter readers — is that that you also need to switch employers if you want that dramatic pay increase.

But you can and should optimize that bet by making sure the next job you take also enables you to be more productive. Of course, recruiters sabotage that objective almost daily when they solicit you for jobs that would set your career back five or ten years.

Warning! Warning!

We already know that most recruiters love to stick you into a “new” job that’s not new at all. They don’t get paid to give you a chance at career development — or to help a manager hire for the future. They offer the same job you’ve been doing because you’re the least risky choice for them.

They pluck you from thousands of job applicants only when their database algorithms show that you’re already doing the exact job they’re trying to fill. There’s no need to train you. You will require no learning curve. You are the safest bet and, if you’re unemployed, the recruiter knows he can probably nab your desperate ass for less than you were earning at your last job because you need a job.

But that recruiter is dangerously naïve. The “perfect match” won’t increase productivity because you’re being plugged into the same job you were doing elsewhere, and your motivation is going to plummet along with your value.

Even if the new job pays more than your last one, this is a huge red flag for employers, warns Giuseppe Moscarini, a visiting scholar from Yale at the Philadelphia Fed:

“What we should worry about are wage raises for workers who stay on the same job and are not getting more productive.” [Bloomberg Businessweek]

Whether the “same job” is at the same employer or a new one, Moscarini suggests wage inflation without higher productivity seems to fuel inflation in the economy.

Recruiter failure

I don’t think employers or economists see the razor that’s cutting into productivity and economic growth. But it should be clear to any Ask The Headhunter reader.

It’s the recruiters.

Most recruiters look for an exact match of a resume to a list of key words in a job description. They’re not assessing job candidates to find value a competitor missed or the value an employer can leverage into higher productivity and profit over time. They tell managers to interview any candidates the automated recruiting system flashes on their displays.

Recruiters, who are an employer’s front line in the talent war, are generally not equipped to do their own jobs. They’re doomed to fail because they’re not really recruiting. They’re checking boxes on a database app. The result is hires that are less than optimally productive.

Job Seekers: Follow the money!

The Fed economists are offering job seekers and career-oriented workers a gift of tremendous insight, even if it seems obvious: Your smartest career move may be to switch jobs and employers.

Pursue only jobs that offer you substantially more money and require you to stretch your skills and capabilities — that is, to do more productive work that’s more profitable for you.

That strategy, they also suggest, may be best for employers and for the economy.

Smart workers don’t change jobs or employers without an opportunity to learn and develop new skills, to take on greater responsibility or authority, to stretch themselves — and to make more money. Those who accept been-there-done-that jobs do it reluctantly or because they feel they have no choice, especially if they’re unemployed.

The Fed tells us not only that lots (23%) of employees are actively looking for new jobs, but that competitors are trying to steal them away. Done for the right reasons and for the right opportunities, switching jobs and companies can pay off big. Employers give people who switch 40% higher raises than they give to people who stay where they are (4.3% vs. 3%).

So, follow the money. When a recruiter pitches you a re-run job for little or no extra money, suggest he go find a job he’s better at — because he’s not helping you or the employer. He could be killing your career and the economy. Has anyone told that to the Fed’s economists?

Did you get a better raise for staying in your job, or for switching out? What was the percentage? Did a recruiter move you into another same-old job, or help you advance your career? What’s your take on the Fed’s findings and conclusions?

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29 Comments
  1. Corporate America is seriously screwed up in terms of what it sees as “productivity.” Recruiters exploit this dysfunction and fully participate in enabling more of the same. Here is an example.

    Company XYZ, nameless for all the obvious reasons, sees that its stock price rises and falls, in part, based on a measure of “revenue per employee.” Sales aren’t so good so to keep the stock price, and executive compensation, on the upside, it lays off an entire division, and then tells recruiters to hire some of the laid off people back as contractors. Now the workforce has been reduced by 150 people and if you do the math, the “revenue per employee” suddenly looks a lot better.

    A feeding frenzy erupts among recruiters as they leap to get first dibs on people who are to be hired back to do the jobs they just left.

    The result is that a few executives get more time in their chairs and the people given the heave ho not only lose ground career wise, but so does the company which will undoubtedly see lower productivity due to a negative growth curve on employee engagement.

    And what about the people laid off? The best people in any company are really “volunteers” since they have options to seek better gigs. Talent and experience matter, up to a point, and the firm that pulls this switcheroo will surely not get many of them on the rebound.

    Lesson learned – if you get caught up in one of these deals, and have faith in your abilities, don’t settle for taking the old job back as a contractor. You deserve better and can do better.

    • @Mayor: Thanks for laying out the scenario. Good example of junk profitability and how it’s “created.”

  2. I agree with your column (as usual) but think you may have missed the most important element of the headhunter dilemma – they are looking to QUICKLY fill positions because the quicker they fill them, the more commission they make. I was reminded of this recently with some interaction with a home realtor – they were very interested in getting a quick sale, not so much on getting the highest net value from the property (for the seller) because 3% of a smaller number quickly was better for their yearly profits than taking time to get 3% of a larger number, even if it involved “seller help” to the buyer which reduces the net to the seller, gives some cash back to the buyer and does not affect the selling price for the agents but often does speed the sale. People do what they are rewarded for. Good, Cheap, or Quick – pick one.

    RE: the Fed job guidance – I saw recently that with the exception of maybe 5 states (who had energy and finances as their #1, but I bet the following was their #2) the most prevalent job category was ambulatory health care. I assume this encompasses all sorts of things from health insurance administration, medical office work (“coding” and appointment scheduling), all the related work associated with pharmaceuticals and medical devices, hospital employees as well as nurses, doctors, Physical/occupational therapists, optometrists, etc. So if you are not already involved in that line of business, you are going to be behind the power curve, no matter what you do regardless of what the Fed says. Our nation’s job vacancies are not as diverse (nor equally rewarded) as we are lead to believe.

    • “People do what they are rewarded for. Good, Cheap, or Quick – pick one.”

      That’s exactly true. The rewards are dictated by “management.” So, what does that tell you about management? Sometimes I think I’m picking unfairly on lowly recruiters, who are just doing what they’re told. It’s why I tried to point out that employers and HR actually fund this goofy “recruiting.”

      • Great piece,insightful the links remarkable the writing pure ‘cork’ boots on the ground recruiting I feel the best if employers do the work they will reap the results. Algorithms dont punch a time clock and are not subject to consequences of mistakes, only reconfiguration. Until we get to genetic birthing and rush to maturity with robot job recruitment, you should add prayer for flesh and blood motivated employees to list . SSdb lol. love ya weototoe

  3. As a recovering 30 year HR professional with Fortune 20 companies, as always, Nick makes some valid points. One of those concerns has driven me crazy ever since I started working in corporate America.That is the natural proclivity for hiring managers to want candidates who are currently doing the exact job. We used to call this the SSDB Syndrome ( same Sh** different Building). I was pretty successful in convincing my hiring managers to hire excellent, external candidates into stretch assignments. My argument is that A players, regardless of money, don’t want lateral assignments and will not perform to their maximum because of the familiarity factor and rapid boredom.Unfortunately, the typical lowly paid,internal recruiter was and continues to view their positions as “Order Takers’ and offer no insight or push back.

    I never blamed Headhunters who gladly filled the orders and made money.

    • I have had this discussion more times than I can count:

      Me: I can do this work, I will need about three months to get up to speed and productive.
      Them: We do not have three months. We need someone now.

      Six months later, the position is still unfilled.

      Me: I can do this work, I will need about three months to get up to speed and productive.
      Them: It is even more of an emergency than it was six months ago. We really can not afford three months…

      • This. x1000

        It is funny how people claim there is a shortage of talent, then leave jobs unfilled for long periods of time, when you could have hired even an entry level/junior person/career switcher to do the work and they could have been contributing something (i.e. more than leaving the seat empty) during that time.

  4. I am not a scientist or economist, however, it seems to me that a majority of the measurements used to understand unemployment, job growth, etc. are extremely antiquated methodology for this new millennium. Particularly given the fact that not everyone is accurately being accounted for (people who have dropped out of looking for whatever reason, underemployed or unemployed who have run out of benefits and therefore go uncounted). As I understand it the GDP is related to manufacturing jobs, which fewer Americans work in. We have a gig/contract economy, I could go on. Yet, we hear things are improving (not for the middle class, however) and the stock market continues to climb, making money for the 1 percent.

    Why aren’t the Fed, and economists, adjusting the measurements used to actually measure the structural changes in our society?

    Nick, I would appreciate it if you would consider writing a future column about this.

    And if Dictator Trump’s travel ban holds who is going to fill all of the jobs, across fields, that HR and other recruiters, “allegedly” cannot find talent to fill, given that it’s so much easier to discriminate against discriminating applicants who are educated, qualified and have transferable skills that employers are not interested in investing in?

    • Ditto, FJ.

    • Let’s not assign derogative (& false) labels, such as calling Trump a dictator. Those who are doing this don’t realize how privileged they really are, to not live in a country that is a dictatorship such as North Korea.

      Obama actually signed more executive orders in the first 12 days than Trump did.

      Let’s keep politics out of this discussion. You can disagree with the travel ban or other policies but let’s keep things respectful here.

    • Folks:

      The standard of conduct here is so high (I’m always bragging about it) that it’s rarely — RARELY — necessary for me to ask anyone to hold back on what they say. I know there are strong feelings about politics nowadays.

      Please refrain from debating political points of view. Let’s stick to the subject. Of course, policy issues are fair game, but please keep political preferences out of the discussion. There are tons of other places to get into that.

      Thanks.

      Nick

  5. Nick,

    First of all, this is a very well written and insightful article…really!

    Just yesterday I was just talking to a well respected veteran Accounting/Finance recruiter in New York. I’ve had a string of short-term consulting roles for the past few years and he was telling me how picky employers still are in the Direct Hire market and that they really only want to consider people who’ve been in the same job for 5-8 years for full-time roles.

    He said that seven or eight years ago, it used to be easy for him to persuade companies to talk to a good candidate, but today everything is portals and electronic submissions, and he’s lost some of his influence with employers.

    I hope i’m wrong but I suspect companies will continue to feel they can hire their own recruiters to sift through a thousand resumes for each position, who are just as good at picking candidates as the average headhunter, and not have to pay a recruiting fee on each hire. The economics seem to make sense for them. I hope I’m wrong because a good recruiter, for me, used to be like money in the bank. They were so helpful in finding opportunities.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Ron. And I agree with you – companies think they can sift thousands of resumes. It’s a fool’s errand. How did companies hire when they didn’t have millions of applicants to choose from? Better, easier, more accurately, because they were not in the business of sorting resumes. They were in the business of hiring good people.

      I look at it like this. HR experts tell you the person you want to hire is a needle. You don’t want to go into the world looking for that needle because the world is too big. So you pay $100 to have a haystack delivered to your door, because the guy selling haystacks tells you there’s always a needle in there. Then you hire 10 people at $75/hr to start sorting through the hay to find the needle. After a month, they bring you straws of hay that look an awful lot like needles. The guy who sold you the haystack reminds you he gave you no guarantee you’d find what you’re looking for.

      Then you realize the person you need to hire is not a needle. It’s cost you more in down time on that vacant job than paying all those needle searchers. To say nothing of all the haystacks you bought.

      The economics make no sense at all. A good recruiter (in-house or third-party) is still money in the bank. With due respect, I’d suggest to the guy who told you he’s lost influence with employers that he meet with his clients face to face and show them what value he brings to recruiting. Alternately, he should fire his clients and find better ones. Good headhunters still manage their clients and keep them on goal.

      Headhunters have never been the best way to find a job. They’re just one of the very best ways to fill a job. Very different things. Nonetheless, automated recruiting and haystacks have decimated the mid-range of headhunters, who weren’t bad at their work. Today there are not many left who are really good – and they’re the only ones worth working with.

      Employers will continue to buy haystacks, because there’s a “talent shortage” and they believe in fairies, too.

      Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  6. Anyone who has seen the relative raises allocated to new employees versus existing ones knows that the advice about switching jobs to make money is right. When companies try to hire good people, they are in competition. Giving raises, not so much. Sure some companies resist offering good salaries, and then they complain about the quality of talent they can hire.

    As for productivity, it was pretty good, but for some time now the execs have been taking the money generated from productivity growth for themselves. They could cut the turnover by rewarding employees more, but with unions nearly destroyed why would they bother. At a certain point those who stay are either the ones who don’t feel they can get another job or those who feel that slacking off is okay as a response to not being rewarded for results.
    My old employer had a policy of giving most people zero or very small raises – and then the execs were shocked, shocked that people starting coming later and leaving earlier.
    Even with great recruiters, companies treating employees badly are going to have problems. Good hiring can get screwed up at any step of the chain.

    • Scott: I experienced several up/down cycles in Silicon Valley when it was still nascent. In each cycle, engineers who were given BMWs as signing bonuses were later living out of those cars. Employers were laying them off without considering the cost of getting them back when business turned back up. When business improved, those same engineers scoffed at good job offers and demanded more – and got it. It wasn’t long before resentment creeped into employment relationships.

      I think we’re seeing this begin to happen in the larger economy. After many years of downsizings, companies are scrambling to find good people. I think employers have always given bigger raises when hiring than to keep employees – and now the economic cycle is going to force employers to reconsider that pay strategy. Retention bonuses were once a part of employment vocabulary. I think they’re coming back.

      I didn’t publish this week’s article to encourage people to jump ship. I published it to show that the economy and job market are shifting dramatically – and that this gives you a choice. There are many good reasons for staying put, even if a bigger salary calls you to another employer. (See http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/2699/readers-comments-should-you-stay-how-to-decide.) But the point is, you now have a choice.

      So do employers. It’s going to make for an interesting job market.

  7. Nick, again the post is spot on. The cross-section of information is compelling. I’ve been working in the training department. We’re the first to get slashed and the last to get hired. I stayed with a company because my manager paid me well as I moved from paid intern to FTE and then to independent contributor under a VP. But, I also saw the writing on the wall as the company was continually cutting talent to reach a better looking ROI, or as someone here put it “Revenue per employee.” After losing the job when they were acquired by a bigger fish I’ve applied to so many posts that companies removed instead of filled. I’ve been asked repeatedly to become a contractor instead of an employee, for the same outlay of money from the company, but meaning less money for me after taxes, and of course no benefits.

    This post along with the health industry post you wrote recently very succinctly drew the line in the sand around my corporate career. The health industry has more value for training experts, but if you aren’t already doing the job, they aren’t going to help you get in. I have various friends and family working in compliance and coding that tell me their employers are constantly hiring for training, but I have no job history or subject matter expertise in healthcare, so my resume sinks like a led balloon. It’s not an industry I’m interested in anyway, and unemployment has run out so I’m no longer required to waste time applying for these jobs.

    Meanwhile, the new leader of the free world certainly doesn’t value training or personal development, and barely had a competent transition team. Organizational development and training are losing value, and our public education system is about to implode as well. “Learning” as a career builder is entirely independent function done at home, not on an employers dime. I had hoped there was a silver lining in your post on how to find the recruiter that can help me repackage and sell my transferable skills into a new position/company that helps me stretch myself as an A player. Moving to the new company isn’t going to get me more money unless I change focus entirely, which knocks me down the pay scale for having the wrong job titles on my resume. Instead, I’m working with a coach/ business developer to build myself an executive director position within a non-profit I’m running currently as a volunteer President.

    • Kerri: “Organizational development and training are losing value”

      It’s actually worse than that. According to Wharton labor researcher Peter Cappelli, “What employers really want? Workers they don’t have to train.” See https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2014/09/05/what-employers-really-want-workers-they-dont-have-to-train/

      Peter writes: “Companies simply haven’t invested much in training their workers.”

      But not all companies. Don’t wait for a headhunter to find you the training job you want. Start digging into the business news to find companies that ARE building out their training operations. Call the people who run those departments. Don’t ask for a job. Just ask their opinions about this trend. What do they think? Which companies do they think are the shining lights in delivering training and employee development. My guess is that one of these conversations will lead you to a job.

      • I agree, but there is more to training than official company classes. We expected to train our new hires, since the stuff we do isn’t exactly taught in schools. We gave them time to learn, and we assigned people to help. HR and training guys probably weren’t aware of this, but it worked out great.

  8. Nick, I share my skepticism of the Fed’s unemployment-rate with others here. John Williams has a site with revised numbers that reflect methods used back decades ago, back when these figures weren’t so fudged as they are now. If true, the numbers of unemployed are staggering, and have been this way for many years…which explains the long-term trend of higher-standards and lower pay for many applicants. Folks, this is supply and demand. Criticize recruiters all you want, but they’ll milk as much as they can geta away with, and if the pool is that big…then they’ll get away with a lot. Simple. http://www.shadowstats.com/

    Now, after seeing these numbers…I fail to see how there is any kind of “talent shortage” to begin with. Inflation…YES…but higher employment? Absolutely not.

  9. Curious as to why a recruiter couldn’t help this poor woman out, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/55-unemployed-faking-normal-one-womans-story-barely-scraping/ (imo, when a highly educated intelligent woman like this can’t find work, there’s little hope for any of us.)

  10. Sighmaster, I respectfully disagree with you. There IS hope; it just requires the admission that most things we were taught in Economics are just plain wrong…and that we shouldn’t beat a dead horse. We all know the job market is dysfunctional…so we shouldn’t wholly rely on it. It is what it is, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to make money. Now, it’s also very difficult to run a business too… so I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t risks.

    However, there are some things that everyone ought to do more of. If not for being successful, but at least their own sanity. They should:
    1) Network and be open to discussing ideas with their neighbors (and keeping things civil; how childish we have become!)
    2) Be mindful of hucksters. Nick is doing a great job in this area.
    3) Educate yourselves on Economics…and good Economics at that (Austrian Economics comes to mind).
    4) Keep their integrity, because that will be what gets us out of this mess.

    The Greatest Generation had it tough before things got better. If we have to fight adversity with a broom, then so be it.

  11. Thanks for the timely article….

    I had a chance recently to talk with a third-party recruiter. He wanted to place me at a job that would be a step back career wise, and of course would be only 66%-75% of what I currently/previously made.

    Based on some of his answers to some of my questions about the specific job because I did not like his answers, I finally got the cajonies and cut to the chase: this job is not just a step back in earning potential, but a step back in my career – why won’t you place me with something else? I basically got the “well, you don’t have the exact experience match in what my clients are looking for.”

    I bit my tongue because that answer was what I needed to know, he was just looking at your resume and checking off boxes and since 99% of recruiters don’t have the background or even if they did have the background, don’t vet you properly. In my anecdotal case, why would I take that job unless I absolutely had to, and if I did, what incentive would I have to stay long term? Yet, this same person said that the market in the industry was hot locally – then he should have an easier time matching me to something, in theory at least.

  12. I have a special button on my phone for use when inept recruiters venture off into “But, employers are only interested in your most recent experience!!!” (Delivered with the same deathless delivery as they delivered telemarketing pitches where they were employed last.)

    It cuts the connection, and hangs up the call,

    I’m sure also that my resume is a bit obvious: I was (let’s say) a Dude Ranch Foreman back in `07, I took this dead end IT job because the economy tanked, I want to transition back to being a Dude Ranch Foreman again, where the money is better.

    If “employers” are so interested in keeping me down n the IT farm, they’d better be interested in paying Really Good Money™ to keep me there.

  13. … no disrespect to actual farmers intended.

  14. Just to add to my previous reply…
    I just received the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (I keep thinking about Samuel Clemens comments about statistics). I started subscribing to their newsletters a couple years ago when I wanted to really see where these job numbers were derived. From the report, the 4 categories with the largest number of job openings for Jan 2017 (by a wide margin) were:
    Education and health services
    Professional and business services
    Health care and social assistance
    Trade, transportation and utilities.
    All were in the private industry sector and most (almost double) were in the South region. Diversity? Not so much.

  15. I really love how Nick explains the current state of recruiting, hiring, how to fix it, HR and the real employment process while all of the other so called HR/employment experts follow automated job searches over the cliff (I personally love Search Engine Optimization,not). I have read Nick’s Ask The Headhunter series for years and have never found him to be wrong nor to provide advice that would not benefit the reader (job seeker, employer or HR). Please keep up the good work. I hope the mainstream media pick up on his insights and great advice but I am not holding my breath. Sorry for the length of my post but this is truly a great resource that the vast majority of job seekers and employers do not utilize (nor know of its utility). Be well.

  16. I don’t think recruiters are the cause the hiring problems, but the bad ones do contribute to it. If management and employers didn’t create a “need” for “recruiting” (using the term loosely), these spamming recruiters wouldn’t populate the environment. So I’m issuing a challenge to employers and to their management–how about you charge your own people with the hiring instead of outsourcing it to the dialing for dollars recruiters? Or how about you carefully vet recruiters, so you get more Nicks of the world and fewer Indians? How about you require that your managers spend 20% of their time recruiting and put plans in place to grow and develop talent? How about hiring someone who has 70% of what you need and train him in the rest? How about you stop whining about the “talent shortage” and actually pay someone? Don’t expect a mid-career professional for intern (i.e., free) wages.

    Yes, the hiring system is screwed up, and screwed up badly.

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