What are the Perils of Hiring in a Candidate-Rich Market?

Recruitment is a two sided market. There’s always a shortage of one thing, and an overabundance of another. Too many jobs and not enough candidates – or too many candidates and not enough jobs.  It is like a seesaw.

Or at least, that’s how it feels.

And the knock on effect is that people on one side of the equation feel comfortable, and those on the other feel anxious.

As I write (May 2024), the market is pretty flat. Inflation has taken a toll. Interest rates are relatively high. It’s a general election year. Private Equity money is in short supply. There’s little appetite for serious change or investment.

And so, there is less hiring, and more candidates in the market actively looking for work.

But counterintuitively, hiring in this sort of market can be more painful and costly than hiring in a tight market.

The challenge comes from the volume of candidates, and from the type of candidates that most companies will see.

And ultimately the risk to companies comes from the need to distinguish making the right  hire, from making any hire.

Perils of Hiring in a Candidate-Rich Market – High Volume of Applications

In this kind of market, if you put your head above the parapet you’ll receive a lot of applications. A lot. And that can feel great – you can simply boil down your list, hire someone, and move along.

But problem one is – how are you distinguishing the standout candidates? What’s your methodology? What are your criteria? More to the point, how much time is it going to take you to apply all of those criteria to the 285 people that have applied to your role?

If you work out the people-hours involved in doing that well, it’s an expensive process.

Perils of Hiring in a Candidate-Rich Market – Active and Passive applications

And even if you do that, you’ve got another problem. In this market, most candidates who are in a role will be inclined to sit tight. So your candidate pool will be disproportionately made up of people who are out of work. Of course, many of them will be excellent candidates – people can be out of work through no fault of their own at all.

But if you don’t actively reach into the passive candidate market – going and talking to people who are in work and seeing if they are interested in your opportunity – you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to compare the whole market and hire the ideal candidate.

To do that, you need time (again). And you need a compelling narrative that outlines the opportunity and the reason to make the move.

In short, in a candidate-rich market it’s easy to drown in available candidates without finding an ideal candidate. And it’s easy to spend an enormous amount of time and money doing it.

Companies who hire well in soft markets do so by having laser clarity about what they need for their business, and what they can offer the right candidate. They have a compelling story to tell and a genuine career opportunity to offer.

And then they take it to market proactively, rather than simply reacting to external interest.

In fact, they set about hiring in exactly the same way that companies approach candidate short markets. They are focussed, proactive and compelling.  

Vocative works closely with senior leaders in companies to help them do exactly this: to craft a narrative; to define a profile; to think through the offer to market. And to source candidates – whether active or passive – who fit the brief.

In a tough market the stakes are high. So you need an expert to help you.

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