Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dumb Employers Demand the Unlikely

Dumb, dumb, dumb. We've got a terrible unemployment situation in this country, huge numbers of very well-educated and experienced workers fruitlessly looking for jobs, and now Christopher S. Rugaber of the AP reports that "Employer Demands Mean Some Jobs Go Unfilled."

Rugaber explains that companies want new hires to do the jobs that several people did before, so instead of hiring people who have some of these skills, they are holding out for people who have skills in multiple areas. These people are a rarity. After all, previously, employees were encouraged to specialize and were punished for having too many areas of expertise--punished by not getting hired. Now, the reverse is happening, and companies would rather not hire unless they can find what HR pros call "purple squirrels." Rare indeed.

I suppose it looks good for the company's bottom line to show no hiring costs other than endless interviewing. To me, it's very obvious that these companies are being incredibly stupid. They might as well declare bankruptcy now, because they can't build a business or maintain a competitive edge by refusing to bring in fresh blood.

Imagine if a big publisher like Random House said, "We want to start an epublishing arm, but we are only willing to hire someone who has done it before AND ALSO has run a conventional publishing company." The pool of people who have been directly involved with running an epublishing venture is growing, but it's still a very small number of people, most of them scrappy outsiders, because this is a brand new part of publishing. The pool of people who have run a conventional publishing company may be larger, but it's also a small pool, mostly preppy insiders, because those people tend to retire and write books. Now do the Venn diagram for these two, and you get, oh, maybe ten or twenty people, tops, who have the dual expertise. I am probably erring on the generous side; it's more likely to be five people, max. Why? Because epublishing is a new field combining with an old field in a new way that is changing by the minute. And your company intends to wait it out until the "perfect person" is found? Dumb. Many companies are not this foolish, and that's why college students who are excellent bloggers get hired by major media firms on graduation. Media firms can't afford to wait for someone who goes and gets an M.S. in Blogging, and they know it. Apparently, many other American companies do not understand what they are losing every day by not hiring.

As much as companies might think that the answer to their fiscal issues is to hire (and of course routinely overwork) people with super skills in disparate but predefined areas, that is not how business grows. Companies that would rather wait to find their perfect employee will lose out to companies willing to take the "risk" of the imperfect new employee. Since it's a speed game in the marketplace, and whoever gets there first often wins the bulk of the industry business, that could be a costly mistake.

Just sayin'. Dumb.

1 comment: said...

In general the dumb do not survive, so there is no need to be sympathetic, or try to save them. Let the foolish companies die and then suck what ever value is left out of the hulk that remains.

If you think Random House is going to die, then figure out how to profit from that. What properties does it have that you can run better than they did?