Monday, January 23, 2012

If Hiring Is Hard, the Business Model Is Broken

An article going around lately illustrates how ill-prepared employers are when it comes time to hire. This article, supposedly offering advice to job-seekers, lays into applicants for not writing a custom resume for every job they apply for, for not being entertaining enough during the job interview, and in general, for not catering to the very skeptical would-be employer’s every whim. The writer, a business owner, freely admits he expects to interview 100 candidates for every one he hires, yet complains about job applicants wasting his time. If the hostility this particular employer holds for job-seekers is this obvious in an article written for publication, imagine how palpable it must be if you are unlucky enough to actually meet him.

And statistics tell us his is not an isolated case. An astonishing proportion of employers are saying they are having difficulty hiring skilled workers. It cannot possibly be the job-seekers who are at fault — not now, when the job market is at near-depression levels, and there are more unemployed high-skill workers than in any country in the entire history of work. No, at some point, you have to say that it is the business model that is deficient.

A business that finds hiring difficult in 2011 will be totally screwed when the job market returns to some semblance of balance and job-seekers have multiple jobs to choose from. Imagine having to persuade potential workers to take the time to talk to you about your open position. Well, most businesses are demonstrating that they aren’t able to imagine such a thing. Most of them will have to scale back their plans when they can no longer hire at will, but not all of them will know how to do that. Many will end up hiring so few people, or so many of the wrong people, that their businesses collapse.

The answer, of course, is to fix the business model now. It is a very lazy business manager who imagines workers appearing by magic to fill every gap in the business’s work. A legitimate business model has to have a realistic view of what workers are actually available and the degree of effort it may take to find them and recruit them. If a business plan fails to address these issues, what that means is that the business doesn’t really have a plan.