I am an Executive Recruiter with 29 years of experience dealing with the ups and downs, the cycles – if you will, of the “American Economy”. But for the past year, or so, when I tell my parents that I have an abundance of employment (search) opportunities to fill, they are consistently surprised. Despite their extremely well-informed and educated business perspective, they assume that “no one is hiring’. The reality from an experienced, hard-driving headhunter’s point of view is that the truly valuable, hard-to-find asset in today’s job market is the qualified and well adjusted candidate.
Yes, it’s one thing for me to identify, recruit, and woo well-credentialed candidates to the interview table, but it’s a far more challenging task to persuade those gainfully employed prospects to actually change jobs in a risk adverse economy. Here is what this “hidden” job market is all about.
Since the second half of 2010 I have had two perfectly suited candidates reject offers from one of the best clients (employers) I have ever represented. In one case the candidate simply got cold feet after verbally agreeing to the deal and in the second, the gentleman had experienced enough recent personal misfortune to make the decision quite rational. However, in both cases, these sales pros turned down significant raises in base salary and stellar employment growth potential.
Fear is debilitating.
So the same fear that grips most U.S. employers to approve hiring requisitions pervades the psyche of the used-to-be upwardly mobile American worker. From my purview, in the trenches of the domestic employment marketplace, the more economic pundits’ and politicians’ talk is filled with terms like deflation, disinflation, double dip, unusual uncertainty, etc., the less likely anyone is to actually do anything to improve our collective plight.
Despite the fact that almost every recruiter I talk to reports a mild or better uptick in hiring activity, since the beginning of 2010, the American worker is overshadowed by fear. One’s fear of losing his or her job, of being unable to close another sale, or of dwindling savings has created a collective disability to move forward.
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In another instance, a client of mine was thrilled with one of my candidates’ resumes, written responses to interview questions, and telephone interview. But he stopped short of meeting the prospect face to face after the company evaluated his “psychological and performance profile”, uncovered by a fifteen minute computer-generated written assessment. Turns out the young man scored exceptionally well in areas of “cold calling”, interpersonal communication skills, sales process, and problem solving; but he failed the test due to an unacceptable score in the category of “positive outlook”. As you can imagine by now, this score does not come as any surprise to me. This candidate is simply a victim of systemic doom and gloom.
When others won’t do it, motivate yourself.
In other words, it is obvious to conclude that unfortunately, very few business people have a truly positive, optimistic frame of mind today. In fact, although the professionals I write about say they are ready to accept new challenges, their actions and/or their sub-consciousness embodies a stop sign. Fortunes are made by embracing risk, seeking alternatives, and clawing towards potential, not safety. But whether it is the “fear trade” in the stock market, the nasty nightly news, or the cautious spouse offering advice, too many of “us” appear to be stuck.
Perhaps more Americans could adopt the attitude of the self-motivated, commission-driven third-party recruiter. If our elected officials fail to provide adequate inspiration, confidence, and good old-fashioned leadership, and most of what you hear and see in the mass media is too depressing, remember that your local executive search firm is generating grass-roots job growth every day. Thus in my world, the trend continues; onward and upward.