Needles and Haystacks and Hiring the Right People

August 08, 2023 / by ECLARO

Finding the Right People to hire for your company—no matter what industry you’re in and no matter the size of your business—is not easy. Of course, we’re not telling you anything you didn’t already know. You’re certainly not alone if you’ve invoked the needle-in-the-haystack scenario while lamenting about how to find those truly great candidates.

But that old adage is coming under some scrutiny of late. Instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s been suggested by some that turning to a needle stack is perhaps a better option.

If you go looking for a needle in a needle stack, chances are you’ll find too many that are rusty, bent, dulled…come to think of it, do you really want to be sticking your hand into a stack like that?

Besides, the concept of that needle stack seems to imply that there are many, many needles out there that are right for your unique needs.

There aren’t.

“Finding the Right People is not really like looking for that needle in a stack,” says Eclaro Co-Founder Paul Sheridan. “It’s more like threading a needle.”

Yes, it is. It requires precision, patience, experience, skill, a practiced knowledge of how to balance many forces at work.

“Look at the numbers,” Paul continues. “Let’s start with the fact that there isn’t a massive number of needles out there—certainly not enough to make a stack. There simply are not enough people, and definitely not enough A-level people, to fill the jobs that are available.”

Let’s assess those numbers for a moment here. There are some 9.6 million job openings in the U.S. right now. And there are about 5.7 million unemployed workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which announced a 3.5% unemployment rate in its most recent report.

What does this mean for you, as an employer trying to find the Right People, right now? Let’s keep looking at those numbers.  

In the U.S., the Labor Force Participation Rate (LPR) for people 16 and older was 62.6% for July 2023, the sixth consecutive month it has held at that number. It was 63.3% back in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in full force, and that shift is not innocuous.

“That equates to almost 2 million fewer workers in the pool than there were just over three years ago,” says Eclaro Co-Founder Tom Sheridan. “And there are actually fewer candidates than people think, even if they’re paying attention to that shrinking pool.”

Let’s take another look at that unemployment rate, which has been consistently hovering in the 3.4%-3.7% range since all the way back in March 2022. As you’re reading this, simply seeing “3.6%” is probably sparking talk of how tough it is to fill open jobs with the people you want and need.

But for many industries and employers, the practical unemployment number is actually much lower.

“As a rule of thumb, the unemployment rate for college graduates in the U.S. is roughly half the overall unemployment rate,” Paul notes. “So right now, that’s around 1.8%. Basically, there’s no unemployment in that group.”

Not very inspiring stats if you’re trying to hire.

But wait, there’s more. If you’re an employer, your job requirements may be narrowing the field even more. Education is not the only factor under consideration, so the prospective pool for those job openings will keep shrinking. Specific skill sets, particular types and amounts of professional experience, job location and hours and compensation and other parameters make fewer and fewer people truly qualified for your roles.

How’s that stack of needles looking now?

You don’t need an engineer to do the math and see there’s a serious imbalance in the old supply-demand relationship. Finding the Right Person for your roles is not getting any easier.

“But that doesn’t mean there aren’t top-tier people out there,” Tom adds. “They are just harder and harder for companies to find on their own.

“Our clients understand how challenging it is to fill roles with top talent,” Tom continues. “They work with Eclaro because they understand that we not only have decades of experience in finding outstanding talent, but that we take a customized approach with everyone to make sure we find the best fit for every role.”

“Understanding your industry, your company and its culture, the goals and challenges and expectations, the specific roles, then leveraging the global networks of talent that our recruiters continue to build day after day—that’s how Eclaro finds the Right People when others can’t. That’s how we help alleviate the pain that so often comes with hiring in this current market,” Paul adds.

“And it’s certainly better than sticking your hand into some kind of needle stack.”

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