Patriotism, Unskilled Workers, and Keep Looking

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Last week, I sat with hundreds of corporate and third-party recruiters and discussed the state of the economy.

It turns out that global corporations are hiring at a faster pace than expected.

  • The good news is that many recruiters have 20 or 30 open requisitions and they are scrambling to find talented IT workers, finance experts, and supply chain professionals.
  • The bad news is that you are not going to get one of those jobs because most managers, directors, and executive leaders have decided that it is nearly impossible to find high performing, high potential, skilled workers in this country.

That’s right. You might be qualified on paper, and there might be six to ten applicants for every job in America, but positions are unfilled in major companies because you’re not an A PLAYER.

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I know there are awesome recruiters and HR professionals who are working hard to fill open positions and get America back to work. I know this because I try to speak with practitioners on a daily basis so I don’t lose touch with my career field. These are great HR and recruiting leaders who are tied into their executive leadership teams and are committed to a fair, fast, and efficient hiring process.

Those folks are awesome.

Unfortunately, there is a seemlier seamier side of the recruitment industry.

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I drank wine in San Diego and talked to dozens of self-appointed pundits and influential recruiters who wanted to school me — a thirty-five year old woman who writes for The Conference Board and has worked in some of America’s largest corporations doing HR and recruiting work in the areas of mergers & acquisitions, IT, marketing, operations, sales, production, and R&D — on the changing nature of work.

These important men & women lamented the state of the American workforce and told me that the ideal worker who posses a perfect mix of skill, savvy, and likability doesn’t exist.

You don’t exist.

Here’s another interesting thing I learned over alcohol and hors d’œuvres: there are corporate recruiters who find qualified candidates, but those candidates are vetoed by managers, directors, and VPs. The new mantra is, “There’s got to be someone better out there. Keep looking.”

Keep looking.

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I can only listen to so much of this garbage about the unskilled workforce and the lack of A PLAYERS before my blood boils.

  • Most American corporations, given a road map drawn by Warren Buffet himself, couldn’t find their way to a profit.
  • Due to an unfair system of compensation and total rewards, your wages & benefits have been stifled over the past 25 years. Retirement benefits have been cut, pension plans have been put at risk, and profit-sharing programs are structured to disincent innovation. How does that attract the best and brightest to American corporations?
  • American companies are inefficient, dysfunctional, and mediocre and have an amazing sense of entitlement. Like immature teenagers who don’t understand boundaries, they truly want more than they deserve.

At one point, after listening to a self-righteous recruiter tell me that it’s impossible to find a certain caliber of individual who could fill a job and grow into an executive leadership spot, I told him that his job reminds me of a monkey in an animal research facility. You know the monkey who pushes a button for the reward of a banana?

That’s that guy.

What’s worse is that his employer has absorbed companies, laid off workers, and hasn’t offered a new product to market that wasn’t purchased through acquisition in over 20 years. The recruiter conceded that fact — and yet he wonders why he can’t fill his requisitions.

Who the hell is this guy, and his mediocre employer, to tell me that he can’t find skilled workers in a major urban environment?

Skilled workers are everywhere. We’re in a recession.

For my part, I would prefer to accept unemployment, cash out my 401k to pay my exorbitant COBRA bill, claim bankruptcy, and live with my mom rather than work for his company.

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Unfortunately, companies prefer to waver and leave headcount open rather than make a decision to fill the role with someone who is merely competent, skilled, and committed to doing a good job. It’s 2010 and it’s not enough to be competent, anymore. You gotta dazzle, baby. And in the process of dazzling, American corporations are engaging in a (potentially) discriminatory, reckless, and unpatriotic hiring process. That’s right.

It is unpatriotic to pretend like you can decipher talent from trash. It’s unpatriotic to deny employment to talented Americans when your company hasn’t been on a path towards profitability since the 1990s.

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I have one message to recruiters who are swamped with 30 requisitions and don’t know how to find talented people. Get to work. Do your job. Hire people.

When your executive leadership team and managers demonstrate hubris, take a stand.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your own integrity. Do it for your career field. Do it for America.

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