Corporate America: Your Hiring Processes Are Branded As ‘Broken’!

Personal Branding

Look at it from almost any perspective and there is only one conclusion that can realistically be drawn about the hiring processes currently prevailing in Corporate America—they are sadly broken and essentially out of sync with the realities of the current labor market pool.  What’s worse, most companies don’t even seem to have any genuine awareness of this fact!

Nearly every week, I hear companies tout the “greatness” of their hiring processes, and how these processes are designed to (among other things) “hire only the best.” I hear companies talk about their “talent acquisition strategies,” or make claims such as, “talent wins” and “the greatness of our company is built on the greatness of our people,” ad infinitum.

Now, juxtapose such claims being made daily by hiring companies with what even exceptional talent (both employed and unemployed) have to say about current hiring processes. Here is what one exceptionally talented job hunter recently told me:

“Skip, trying to find a new job today is a depressing, demeaning, utterly miserable experience,” she said. “And it’s an experience that I hope I never have to go through again and one that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”

Then, to even further underscore the extreme disconnect between those seeking (or available for) new career opportunities and those doing the actual hiring for these new opportunities, consider the lament (paraphrased) I regularly hear from hiring managers:

“We just can’t seem to find enough good people.”

How can these two groups of people, i.e., job seekers and those who hire them, be seeing things so vastly differently? Let me begin answering that question by citing an email I received this week from Douglas Gordon, a professional in my LinkedIn® network.

“Question for you, Skip,” he wrote. “I’ve always held the notion that a good salesperson should be able to find me and sell himself/herself without the need for a recruiter. I’m not saying that recruiters aren’t valuable, but why wouldn’t a person looking for a job in my area just contact me directly?”

A very good question and one that I hear in one form or another rather frequently, i.e., why doesn’t a job seeker simply go right to the source? It’s also a question that goes right to the heart of the matter concerning one of the major problems with current hiring processes. Unbeknown to most people, including hiring managers, is that the prevailing hiring processes in America effectively target only 17% of the available talent, i. e., those actively (or semi-actively) looking for a job. The remaining 83% of the talent pool may not even be aware of new career opportunities, let alone take the initiative to actively seek out a particular hiring manager or company!

To gain a better understanding of the entire job candidate pool, let’s take a look at the overall make up of the pool:

145 million employed people in the US
+ 14 million unemployed people in the US
= 159 million available people

Now, let’s take a closer look at the various subsets within the TOTAL pool of 159 million people:

“Active” Job Seekers (9%)

The ranks of the currently unemployed make up about 9% of the total available talent pool and are therefore deemed to be the “active” job seekers. They network and they apply online. While at least some of these job seekers can afford to be somewhat selective, generally, those in this group are simply “looking for a job”—any job.

In addition, Lou Adler, of the Adler Group (, has done extensive research which breaks down the labor pool into even more precise, more meaningful segments:

“Semi-Active” Job Seekers (8%)

8% of the currently employed are also doing heavy networking and routinely applying online. People in this group generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Unhappy at work.
  • Need to move for a family or personal reason.
  • Don’t like their boss.
  • Aren’t performing well.
  • Sense their current position may be in jeopardy.
  • Are with a company whose future may be in jeopardy.

“Semi-Passive” Job Seekers (55%)

These employed people are NOT job seekers. They . . .

  • Have a good job, so they don’t respond to job postings.
  • Do not post their résumés online.
  • Do not take calls from third-party or corporate recruiters “pitching a job.”
  • May or may not network, but will consider career moves to advance career growth. They are “crazy busy” performing their current job with excellence, often with your competitor.

“Passive” Job Seekers (28%)

This group will not budge at this point in time because they . . .

  • Have just started a new job.
  • Are getting ready to retire.
  • Are geographically bound due to family or health issues.
  • Have some type of “golden handcuffs.”
  • Are just so in love with what they are doing that any change is out of the question.

This more in-depth look at the make up of the total available talent pool goes a long way toward gaining a better, more thorough understanding of just how totally out of sync current hiring processes are with the realities of the talent pool. As I’ve already indicated, since hiring companies are effectively targeting only 17% of the total pool, vast numbers of potential job seekers are not even aware that new career opportunities exist. And certainly most hiring companies aren’t making any effort to make them aware. So, is it really any wonder, then, that companies can’t find “good people” for their new jobs? Likewise, it is really any wonder that “good people” are not even considering new career opportunities?

Obviously, the only effective way to reach those potential candidates in the labor pool segments other than “active” or “semi-active” is to proactively target and then recruit them. Just as obviously, of course, this is where a good “headhunter” (or a good corporate recruiter!) can—and does—play a vital role. However, as long as hiring companies continue to play the largely passive role they currently are playing, and as long as they continue to maintain their narrow candidate focus, good companies are going to continue to lose out on “good people.” Equally importantly, “good people” are going to continue to lose out on new career opportunities.

NEXT WEEK: A look at how some current corporate hiring processes/practices are spelling failure for both the hiring company and job candidates.


Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.