Where have all the Candidates gone?

Where have all the Candidates gone?

Scary statistic– according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1.5 unemployed per every 1 job opening.

Now you know why you are getting a trickle of applicants to your job postings, and why you “can’t find good people.”

When the economy really heats up, this situation will be even worse.

So how can a small employer attract and convince top candidates to join your team?

The Answer:
The answer is that you will need to turn your recruiting and selection process into a well-oiled machine.

  • Continually source a flood of applicants, appealing to those that are attracted to your culture and opportunities.
  • Find and woo the “passive” candidates who are already employed but not “loving it” at their current job.
  • And then you need to be super-selective in who you let join your team (remember the rotten apple effect).

The Roadblocks:

Most small business managers dread having to hire someone new…

  • It’s time consuming, frustrating trying to find enough qualified applicants, and there is time pressure to fill a role as work piles up.
  • You don’t have extra time to spend getting to know your candidates so you rush though the interviews.
  • You typically find the “last (wo)man standing” and make an offer. Then you wonder if you are making the best choice.
  • Or even worse, the candidate declines the offer and you are back to the beginning. [Ouch!]

The Solution:

Mid-sized and large employers solve this with an ongoing recruiting “funnel” and automated screening and a rigorous selection process, using modern online tools.

  • They approach hiring as they do sales…
  • They identify the ideal prospect,
  • market to them with an Employer Brand and enticing offers,
  • and then have a system to decide if there is a good match to work together.

If you want an automated selection process that makes your job roles stand out, here are resources to assist you:


Recruiting is a process, not an event. It must be ongoing and continuous. Can you imagine only going after a new customer when you lose an existing one?” Jack Daly

Beggars can’t be choosers

Beggars can’t be choosers

Really- why not?

I hear this phrase far too often from managers who are now urgently rushing to fill an open position. Perhaps someone quit on short notice, or an employee on leave decided not to come back. Or you had to take decisive action to terminate an employee whose behavior warranted such a quick outcome.

Moral of the story? Here you are scrambling to find “someone good” on short notice.

And everyone on your team is feeling the pain, because they are picking up the workload for the missing person, most likely doing tasks that are unfamiliar or not in their area of expertise.

What does the team want? A new, awesome, fabulous team mate (who needs no training) – and make it quick! Can she start tomorrow?

Despite the apparent urgency of the situation, you know what I am going to tell you next….

“Take your time to find the right person.”

In the midst of your crisis, pause, take a breath, and met me remind you what is at stake

Hiring an A player may take a few more weeks of recruiting, more focused and stringent selection, and passing up on “good enough” candidates who can start tomorrow. But that A Player who starts in 4 weeks will likely learn the job more quickly, be an asset to the team right away, and be performing at a higher level in six months.

Rushing to settle for a C player (usually a perfectly nice person who was a decent performer at a prior job, but NOT a fit for your job) means a few weeks saved now, and hundreds of hours lost later.

C Player’s are estimated to take 25% of a managers time—the one or two people on your team who struggle with the job knowledge, performance expectations, or do not match the attitude and culture you need can suck 10 hours a week!

Do the math- 10-20 hours now versus 500 hours next year … and that does not count the actual and opportunity cost of lower quality or service, slow processes, lost sales, unhappy customers, unhappy co-workers, and unhappy managers.

You are not a beggar, and you can be choosy! Only settle for A Players with a 90% chance of success.

There are fabulous candidates out there—but you have to cast a wider net, be more selective and systematic in your selection, and wait until you have found “the one.”

Learn more: 

Read our articles on “selection” to find out more about what you can do to evaluate and validate your candidate’s job fit.

Read our article about how to always be scouting for talent and building a virtual bench, so that you are not scrambling for applicants next time!


Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

64% more sales? What difference does one person make?

64% more sales? What difference does one person make?


I have always been an advocate for finding and rewarding a great employee. As the People consultant who I worked with years ago was fond of saying, “it’s never the wrong time to hire the right person.”

And I have examples from personal experience in my family business and at clients who found that the right person can make a huge impact on the work environment, productivity, sales and ultimately profit.

But I want to share an astounding story related recently by a woman entrepreneur who is in one of my business groups.

For months, she was frustrated with the results of the manager in her production operation.

Her business coach continued to advise her to recruit and select another manager, but as we all know, recruiting and selection is TIME CONSUMING. And you worry that the person you finally hire may not be any better than the person you have. And then you have to spend time training the new person…. And the list goes on, so we stall and don’t go looking for the Ideal.

At some point she decided that maybe she would at least look for another candidate, so created a profile of the ideal candidate (Lesson 1– do this before recruiting so that you are attracting the Ideal Candidate).

Then she made a list of the job performance results she really needed, key skills and competencies of an ideal production manager. She said that when she systematically wrote this out, it was not what she was originally thought she needed! (Lesson 2 by systematic and clear about your Ideal Candidate.)

Then she placed a local advertisement describing the ideal candidate and the very detailed position requirements and results.

Who applied?- an applicant who was working at a similar larger production facility that had just closed. She interviewed this candidate and found out that he had the industry skills and knowledge, but more importantly management and leadership skills. After a thorough selection process, she was confident this candidate had a good probability of being an A player. (Lesson 3– Validate, don’t just take someone’s word for their capabilities after one interview.)

Fast forward one month after he started to this business results:

  • the crew increased from 55% productivity (plus overtime to get orders out) to 100% productivity with no overtime
  • the process was running so smoothly the backlog of 2 weeks to get orders shipped dropped to 2 days
  • because she was able to contact customers (instead of putting out fires in the production and shipping area) she sold 64% more sales that month!

And how much more did she pay this new manager? The same as the prior one. Even if he wanted 15% more base pay —would he have been worth it? (Did I mention 64% more sales?)

Lesson 4– So you say you don’t have time to find an A player, and you can’t afford one? What would 10% more productivity or sales do for your profit this year?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Resources – Recruiting & Selection

In this module you will learn how to attract ideal candidates, what screening elements to use in your selection process and what tools you can use to learn more about your candidates to make your selection.


Training 7 – Recruiting & Selecting A Players

Bonus Pre-Selection Tools:

  1. Assessments and Reference Checking
  2. Applicant Processing


  • Ideal Candidate Profile
  • Interview Questions


To your People success,

-Diana Southall, People Coach and creator of the People Plan™


If you are ready to create your own People Plan, learn more about our Toolkit resources.