The Delusions Behind White-Collar Hiring

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May 16, 2022

For corporate America, the Great Resignation is nothing but a myth. The bulk of the workforce who resigned throughout the pandemic was made up of low-wage workers, primarily in the hospitality, restaurant, warehouse, medical services, and merchandise industries. 

What’s more, as hotels and restaurants shuttered, tons of workers took corporate work-from-home jobs and now have no intention of going back to the frontline. And who can blame them? 

But white-collar corporate America? There’s no Great Resignation there. That’s just a narrative stolen from the blue-collar workforce to justify the failure to get candidates to apply for positions. When it comes to recruiting for corporate roles, a more suitable term is the Great Desperation. 

What’s Really Happening?

The war for talent has gotten even more competitive. The number of roles has increased, and there are fewer people to fill the positions, which makes relying on old hiring practices ineffective. Companies aren’t prepared or set up from an infrastructure standpoint to handle this hiring evolution. And so it’s far easier to leverage the narrative of the Great Resignation than it is to be proactive and update tactics. 

There is a total mindset shift that needs to take place. Organizations need to rethink how to manage their teams and how those teams should function. Most recruitment teams are not set up to be proactive or outbound. They’re primarily focused on inbound efforts. Except, with current and ongoing market conditions, that’s just not going to cut it. 

It used to be that it was the candidate’s job to talk oneself into a role. Today? That attitude has changed. Candidates want to be sold on the job, while multiple organizations chase after them. 

Of course, white-collar workers have always been leaving their roles for new opportunities. Traditionally, though, companies were able to land talent quickly. But our world changed overnight. Suddenly, remote positions and multiple opportunities became the new normal. 

Simply put: Companies that won’t adapt won’t be successful in acquiring quality candidates.

The Pursuit of Talent 

In the past, you could post a job and get enough quality resumes, but now, you have to pursue those resumes. Traditional job boards, which are some companies’ only hiring strategy outside of internal referrals, are not bringing in the talent they once did. The days of expecting candidates to apply are over. They don’t need you. You need them.

In other words, if you’re posting 30 roles and waiting for resumes to roll in, you’re already behind.

Some of the best talent out there is passive. They don’t exist in corporate talent databases since they’ve never applied. So if you want 75% to 80% of the talent pool today — because only about 20% to 25% of people are actively looking for jobs — you have to go outbound. 

That means setting KPIs and goals in ways that are similar to sales strategies. Indeed, modern recruitment is very similar to sales. You need to entice people to join you, and you have to pursue them multiple times, not just once.

Unfortunately, most recruiting practices aren’t up to the challenge. Bersin’s report “The Definitive Guide to Recruiting Human-Centered Talent Acquisition” found that 1 in 5 corporations average over 1,000 open job requisitions. Despite the urgency of filling roles, findings show that 75% of employers struggle to recruit effectively, and only 8% actively recruit from under-represented groups.

Businesses are fighting this by hiring more recruiters, specifically sourcers, but that’s not enough. It’s essential to build pipelines, especially for evergreen roles. And then you have to go out and engage. And not only is it hard to recruit, but it’s also hard to retain because of the constant pillaging of your current team members.

Here’s the reality today: Sourcing is reasonably commoditized. What we all want is to get someone in the door. That’s the hard part. Anyone can source if they have the time to commit to it. But engagement? Getting people interested? Bringing them to the table? Most companies aren’t devoting the time it takes to keep prospective talent warm, reiterating the desperate need for an outbound recruiting model in a modern-day hiring model.

It’s therefore vital to start transforming your recruitment team and converting them into salespeople who are comfortable going outbound. That’s more effective than perpetuating a false hiring narrative to account for continually missing recruitment goals. 

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