Does a Talent Shortage Really Exist? A Fictional Debunking!

Does a talent shortage really exist?  Can organizations really not find qualified people?  Why are so many qualified people still without work?  Sure we can blame unemployment to some degree and yes, many organizations are overrun with unqualified candidates but more is at work here.  Read the following (fictional) account that explains why many job candidates, even with all their experience, can’t find a new job.

OPEN: Scene begins with recruiter walking into an office carrying a folder full of resumes.  The hiring manager, sitting behind his desk, looks up and smiles.

HIRING MANAGER: Hey, what have you brought me?

RECRUITER: This has been the most challenging assignment of my long career but I’ve finally found three people who can operate on underwater missile systems and speak telepathically with the local marine life.  All of them have laser engineering degrees and five years or more of experience in marine biology as you requested.  Admittedly I didn’t even know such people existed.

HIRING MANAGER: Sounds good!  Let me take a look.

The recruiter takes a seat across from the hiring manager confident his supreme recruiting ability to find people with such niche experience will impress.  The hiring manager scans the first resume.

RECRUITER: I have spoken with all three candidates and they are all very interested in the opportunity.

HIRING MANAGER: This candidate here, what are his salary expectations?

RECRUITER: Well he’s a little above range of the $60K a year you are offering which as we discussed is much, much lower than the industry average for this type of job.  I figured though since he seems to be one of only a handful of people in the world capable of doing this job that perhaps you might work with him on salary.  His resume says he’s been communicating with dolphins for over four years now and his work on missile guidance systems seems to be…

HIRING MANAGER: Looks like most of his experience is with missile propulsion systems not guidance systems.  He has only four years with guidance and I really need someone with five years or more.

RECRUITER: It’s just one year!  I’m sure he can be trained….

HIRING MANAGER: We’ll stick him in the “maybe” pile.

The hiring manager drops the resume in his discard pile and pats it with a disingenuous smile.  He pulls up the next resume.

HIRING MANAGER: Says here this guy got out of school in ’68.

RECRUITER: Yep, plenty of experience!

HIRING MANAGER: He’s old.  He may leave in three or four years and retire.

RECRUITER: Three or four years is a pretty long time for employees to stay in this age.  If you can hire a guy like this and keep him for three years than I consider you lucky!

HIRING MANAGER: Looks like he lives two hours away.

RECRUITER: I know!  Can you believe it?  He lives only two hours away!  Imagine the odds!

HIRING MANAGER: That’s going to be a long commute.  He’ll probably get tired of driving it.  He might leave after six months.

RECRUITER: Ummm then why not pay a little to relocate him closer?  I assumed considering the lack of talent in this field that relocation would be a given.

HIRING MANAGER: We’ll also put him in the “maybe” pile shall we?

RECRUITER: I had no idea the candidate had to be local.  Finding candidates in the whole entire world who are capable of doing what you need was difficult enough but they have to work within a commutable distance and within your salary range as well?  Not too mention they need to be a certain age!

HIRING MANAGER: Easy, easy, don’t get too agitated.  I’m sure this next candidate will be suitable.

Ah here we go.  They have adequate missile guidance and missile propulsion experience.  Ah yes, excellent they went to the right school.  I forgot to mention I preferred they graduated from this school.  Looks like they once worked for a competitor of ours.  That’s good!  Hmmmmm.

RECRUITER: What’s the problem?

HIRING MANAGER:  It says here he can telepathically communicate with all Caribbean underwater sea mammals.

RECRUITER: And the problem is….?

HIRING MANAGER: Well we really need someone who can telepathically communicate with Pacific sea mammals and since they are in a different part of the world mammals in that region probably speak a different language than mammals in other regions.


HIRING MANAGER: I’m not sure he’ll be able to communicate with both.

RECRUITER: Well how about I ask him!

HIRING MANAGER: Oh wait, hold on.  He has included a picture of himself.

The hiring manager frowns.

RECRUITER: What’s the problem now?

HIRING MANAGER: He has a tattoo of a shark on his right arm.  As you know, sharks and mammals don’t like each other.  I’m afraid he won’t fit in culturally with the underwater sea life.  I think we’re going to have to keep looking.

The recruiter begins to cry.

Though this example is an extreme case, I think you get the point.  The next time you read an article on the great talent shortage, remember that candidates are not being evaluated for talent alone.  If they were, the shortage would not exist.


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