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Trouble Hiring? Try Tapping Alternative Candidate Sources

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There are few things more frustrating than false advertising, especially when it comes to people. Though you might get mad at your self-buttering toaster for not living up to your wildest breakfast dreams, I’m sure you’d get even madder at the guy who sold it to you if he came a-strolling into your kitchen, talking about how great the toast you must be having must be. When people employ false advertising for their own ends, we usually call them liars, fakes, frauds, sleaze-balls, cheats, snake oil salesmen or…candidates. According to a survey from Statistics Brain, 53% of the resumes submitted to employers in this country contain false information of some sort or another. This varies from being generally “misleading” (78%) to straight up fabrications like including fraudulent degrees (21%), showing altered employment dates (29%), giving falsified references (27%) or inflating the salaries listed in previous positions (40%). If you’ve been wondering why your efforts to source good, qualified workers have been delivering hires that just don’t seem to cut it, you may be a victim of this pervasive candidate misrepresentation.

But who can blame them, really, for trying? In today’s job market, listing any lengthy period of unemployment can be the kiss of death for a job seeker’s attempt to get back on the horse.

According to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, people who have been unemployed for 6 months or more receive 45% fewer callbacks than people who have been out of a job for only a month. Considering that we’re all navigating our way through this post-recession economy, a recession in which thousands of Americans were laid off, the fact that employers are still discriminating against the long-term unemployed isn’t just tacky, it’s a strategy that doesn’t hold water. Though there might be a personality defect or a skill deficit responsible for a percentage of the long term unemployed remaining that way, one of the largest contributing factor to their continued unemployablity is the fact that most employers have decided to view them as unemployable. The experience gained over a 15 year career in sales doesn’t simply vanish overnight or even a “long” stretch of unemployment. It’s gotten to the point where you pretty much need to already have a job before employers will consider you eligible for a position at their company.

But what does it really say about an employee if they already have a job?

Does it say that they’re automatically a better choice just become some random business has been paying them for the last year or two? Does it say that the hire will be doing the exact same sort of secretive job search after they’ve been on your team for a while? The idea that being employed makes someone a better hire inherently isn’t without it’s logic, but it’s an assumption that has dramatically reduced the talent pools that many businesses draw from. The companies that make this assumption are the ones who have a sort of “plug and play” view on hiring; that a new hire should be carbon copy of the last person to hold the position, that they should be able to provide value from day 1 and that they should require no training to get started.

While it’s all well and good to have high standards for your hiring, problems arise when those standards clash with your ability to attract top talent. According to a study from CareerBuilder, “More than half (55 percent) of hiring managers who can’t find qualified candidates for open positions said they typically hire people who have held the same title as the open position.” The fact is that, depending on your area, there may be no readily available professionals who have held the same job that you’re trying to fill, especially if this job is one of those “hard to fill” positions. When the brutal facts of reality clash with our plans or preferences, as unpleasant as it can be, it’s far better to accept those facts than try to pretend that they don’t matter.

That’s why, if you can’t find someone who’s already holding down the job that you want to hire for at your own company, you should expand your candidate search to include people with comparable skill sets and those candidates that have been overlooked due to gaps in their employment history.

Though hiring from these sources will probably require you to invest into the new hire’s training, this extra cost can be much less than holding out for that “perfect hire.” According to Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America, “Nearly three-in-ten employers currently have open positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates and half said they are concerned about the growing skills gap… Instead of waiting for the perfect hire, we see more companies hiring workers from closely-related occupations who won’t require a great deal of training and can get up to speed quickly.”

So, basically, when life gives you lemons, make some of that sweet lemonade, people. By automatically excluding professionals with employment gaps in their career and ignoring alternative talent pools, you’re limiting the breadth of your candidate search. Though hiring someone with comparable skill set to the one you need or hiring someone who’s been unemployed for a while will require some on-the job training, there’s no reason that they can’t be just as effective in the role as someone who happens to have held the same job title previously. Also, there’s loyalty to consider. Who do you think will be more engaged in their work and with your company: someone who swapped jobs like you and I swap cell phones for the newest model or someone who you’ve invested in and given a chance? The bottom line is that, when you think that you’re out of options, it usually means that you should start thinking a little differently. For some examples of compatible skill sets, here’s a list of some of the hardest to fill jobs and some of the more readily available professionals that could potentially step up to the plate at your company.

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