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Hiring During a Talent Glut

The economic downturn drags on and the job market has gotten tough. There is a lot of speculation that the economy is at or near a bottom of this slump but how long will we stay there until recovery begins? Companies continue to let very talented people go as they hunker down against slower sales. Companies that are hiring have changed the way they’re hiring. Instead of finding an excellent candidate that have strong credentials but will grow into their new responsibilities they are hiring people that have enough experience that there is little room to grow. Sure, these folks will hit the ground running but business is a marathon, not a sprint, and they’ll be the first to leave when more exciting opportunities for growth and greater responsibilities arise.

I’ve talked to several people in companies around Silicon Valley and in other areas of the company who are seeing the same trend. One friend argued that the job market is flush with very good people so he has the luxury of hiring someone that would have never taken the job 2 years ago. My question to him was “do you really want someone who is just happy to have a job or do you want someone who is excited about the opportunity?” That excitement is infectious and is absolutely necessary for a leader to get people in their teams motivated and other organizations enthusiastic at new directions and ideas.

I’ve recently seen an organization led by someone who was in the “happy to have a job” mode. The group was performing a function that was important for the company 5 years ago but needed to update its mission significantly. The group sank deeper into obscurity over time and was either ignored or ridiculed within the company. The entire team advocated methods and activities that they’ve ‘always done’ but they didn’t understand why they did them. The leader didn’t inject a passion for the job and eventually the group went away. What a waist of people.

Hiring leaders is about hiring future capability and future growth. Companies have to be very cautious that they bring in the right talent and that they’re there for the right reasons. Sure, you can find immensely qualified people but will they help guide you into the recovery and on to healthy growth? Fear keeps people motivated for a little while but the culture created by “captured talent” will be lackluster and temporary. If your people feel trapped, they will always be looking for an exit.



1 comment to Hiring During a Talent Glut

  • A company’s financial success highly correlates to the motivation level of its workforce. When a company possesses the right factors for motivating its employees, people are attracted to it. When people are onboard, they are motivated to use their talents to make the company successful.

    I agree, the type of company and their long-term versus short-term needs should determine how they hire to drive its success. People are motivated in different ways. To break it down to the core, these needs can be for the survival (food, shelter, health), emotional safety (benefits, pensions), affection (feeling of belonging, a connection), esteem (feeling of accomplishment, appreciation) and/or self-fulfilment (working to achieve potential, learn).

    It boils down to that mapping. What does the company really need and what “really” motivates the employee.

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