A Holiday Work of Pure Fiction (Sort Of)

Dear Santa: I know it has been a while since I have written, about 35 years. But, I figured you used to listen to my requests and usually got me what I wanted. That seemed to happen less and less in my life after I stopped writing to you. (By the way, thanks for the bike in 1962. For it’s day, it was a beauty. But, seven speeds shy of even being considered “roadworthy” today.) For the last seven years, the Staffing Industry (that’s right, I grew up, got a job, and everything) has been getting tougher and tougher. I mean, you read the papers, right? I mean, you do get papers in the North Pole, don’t you? Heck, you are probably on the WEB by now. How could you not be and compete in a global economy? Well anyway, the economy is booming — has been for quite some time. Everybody wants to build and grow their organizations. We have become increasingly technical and complex and as a result, so have the jobs, and consequently, so have the candidates. The staffing industry has gone from a profession of occasional “crunches” and busy periods into a business of sustained stress. On any given day there are 3 million open jobs in this economy and on any given day there are only 300,000 candidates. One of the most popular free resume WEB sites has only 50,000 more candidates than openings (150K vs. 200K). It has been like this for a while and continues to get worse year by year. There is no let up in sight. Plus, the let up would be a recession and most experts agree that even a minor recession would only “slightly alleviate” the hiring gap. I mean, great news if your secret life’s ambition is a daily stress attack or mild coronary. Hiring managers want “perfect fit” candidates within the budget constraints, today! Candidates have multiple companies making multiple offers with hiring bonuses, stock options, paid “acceptance weekends” in Key West, or some other resort town. The same candidate has six agencies working to find them an interview, a job(s), and as many counter-offers as they can carry in a wheel barrow. Everybody has a “pet theory” on how to attract the “passive” candidate. A figure assuming such mythical proportions as to replace “Bigfoot” as the most sought after upright bi-pedal mammal in North America. Career Fairs have had instances of tumbleweeds blowing down the aisles. In one instance the sole candidate at a three hundred booth fair was almost crushed to death by recruiters flinging coffee cups, company felt tips, and logo-imprinted note pads at the poor fool. It later turned out that not only did the candidate have actual skills, but he had been at his current job for a full two months. That’s right, eight whole weeks. However, he was so demoralized by the incident, he went to a venture capitalist and got 35 million dollars in funding to start some sort of “dot com” company. He failed, of course. Could not get staff. But I digress. Can you see where I am going with this, Santa. We have a mission to deliver the best possible candidates to our companies or clients, in the most advantageous manner from a position of cost, as quickly as can be done — and still do it with quality. Quality hiring has suddenly become quite the seasonal gift. Better than gift certificates and more useful than kitchen gadgets. So, Santa, here’s the point of this letter. Do you have resumes? I mean, can I ask for a box of resumes this Christmas? A nice assortment of professional and technical resumes would be nice. A really, really, big box of resumes would be really neat. With lots of programmers and systems administrators, and customer service specialists and everything. I promise, if you give me this box of resumes I will never ask for anything ever again. Ever! Well, except for maybe a WEB site with a decent search engine at the front end. But that would be all. Unless of course you have an ad agency with some ideas they have not already used 29 other times. Maybe a couple of 3rd parties who charge only 15%. How about non-resignation clauses on employment contracts. How about do-it-yourself conversion kits for 1099 to W2 makeovers? But, at least the resumes, OK Santa. At least the resumes. Yours truly, Kenneth T. Gaffey XXXXXXXXXX Dear Kenny; It was nice hearing from you after all these years. I was so pleased to hear that you went into staffing. Maybe you could help old Santa out with a problem. We are really busy up here at the North Pole, and we seem to be having trouble finding elves with the right motivation and experience. I was wondering if you could find me…………. HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND A PROSPEROUS (ALBEIT EXTREMELY BUSY AND FRUSTRATING) NEW YEAR.

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Ken Gaffey (kengaffey@comcast.net) is currently an employee of CPS Personal Services (www.cps.ca.gov) and has been involved in the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration project since its inception. Prior to this National Security project Ken was an independent human resources and staffing consultant with an extensive career of diversified human resources and staffing experience in the high-tech, financial services, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries. His past clients include Hewlett Packard, First Data Corporation, Fidelity Investments, Fleet Bank, Rational Software, Ericsson, Astra Pharmaceutical, G&D Engineering, and other national and international industry leaders. In addition to contributing articles and book reviews to publications like ERE, Monster.com, AIRS, HR Today, and the International Recruiters Newsletter, Ken is a speaker at national and international conferences, training seminars, and other staffing industry events. Ken is a Boston native and has lived in the greater Boston area most of his life. Ken attended the University of South Carolina and was an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

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