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Preparing to turn on the hiring faucet

Michelle Hicks

Michelle Hicks

Talent acquisition staffs are preparing to turn on the hiring faucet. But the last few years of layoffs have created a much different candidate pool than in years past and those responsible for recruiting may need to spend some extra time preparing their hiring managers for the changes.

One of the first assumptions to be reset is that passive candidates are of a better quality than active candidates. When the unemployment rate was at its lowest, that may have been true. But today, there are many quality candidates either unemployed or underemployed. Gone are the days that “unemployed” should be a red flag on a resume.

At the same time, with the burst of the housing bubble, it is a lot harder to get passive candidates to relocate because they can’t get rid of their homes. There is also a concern for people who are actively employed about putting too much value on the greener grass in another employer’s yard. They worry about whether or not this mild recovery will last and they don’t want to be the last person in the gate – and consequently the first one asked to leave – if the recovery doesn’t hold.

Another common assumption by many hiring managers is that because there are so many people looking for work, it should take less time for recruiters to fill job requisitions. While it is true that there is an abundance of candidates, there is also an abundance of the wrong candidates applying for every position.

Sorting through those stacks of resumes is time-consuming. Even with a sophisticated applicant tracking system, candidates have gotten a lot more adept at customizing their resumes for job postings. This means many people who may not have the skills or competencies you are seeking understand how to still be flagged for consideration in the system.

If they’re not a fit, it may not come up until the recruiter carefully analyzes the information in the resume or does an initial phone screening.

Hiring managers also need to take into consideration whether or not the HR team has had an opportunity to fully recovery and “staff up” to assist in their hiring needs. Accurate projections will help senior HR leaders understand and prepare for the coming business needs – including making sure they have enough recruiters in place to help fill potential vacancies.

Because the faucet isn’t turned up all the way yet, now is the time for talent management staff to work closely with hiring managers to carefully reconsider not only the jobs they are about to post, but whether those roles are still relevant in their organization.

Most companies have not only spent the last two years reducing staff, they have also reorganized and consolidated functions. Instead of dusting off old job descriptions and reposting them, this may be the perfect opportunity to reconsider the skills and behaviors needed now, for the new organization.

For example, perhaps a strong business acumen, with an ability to budget, is expected of managers below the director level, when it wasn’t as important in the past. If that is the case, then you want to be sure to incorporate that into the job responsibilities before posting a manager’s job description.

Hiring managers are excited about the possibility of recovery. It’s been almost two years of hiring freezes and a freeze on projects that might help them take their organizations to the next level. The people who can help those managers find the right women and men to do just that also need direction from the business. And they need an understanding of their own recession-related challenges in order to meet or exceed those expectations.

As the recovery emerges, hiring managers need to remember that filling vacancies isn’t like driving up to the Starbuck’s window and asking for their favorite latte. If you want and need a caramel macchiato, your recruiter is trained to hunt it down. Just know they may have to dig through a lot of boxes of Irish cream before it turns up.

Michelle Hicks is a communications consultant with Buck Consultants. Contact her at [email protected]

About Michelle Hicks


  1. Greetings! Thank you for your thoughtful post!