The Danger of Hiring During a Recession

Michael Beek
July 9, 2009 — 2,882 views  
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Are you in a hiring mode during this recession?

There's a good news/bad news flavor to hiring right now.

First the Good News:

Do you think it will be a cake walk because...

* there are so many good candidates out there who have been laid off?
* they are motivated to quickly land a new job so they can put bread on their family table?
* if they have the skills and knowledge to jump right in the company will immediately reap the benefits?

Now the Bad News:

Well, it may seem like it's going be easy, but you better not be lulled into thinking that all 'star players' are equal, because they aren't. You are also going to be faced with a lot more candidates for each opening than normal simply because there are so many people unemployed right now.

You may ask "So what's the issue with having a lot of 'stars' to pick from?" Wouldn't we all like to have that problem? And, today because of economic and competitive pressures, we need new hires to jump in and get up to speed almost from day one.

Here are 3 key things you need to look out for:

* Not all 'stars' will fit the culture of your company.
* Not all 'stars' will fit the profile of what it takes to be highly productive in a given role in your company.
* They may be over qualified, but took the job out to keep afloat until the job market turns around.
* They will get bored quickly, and... Either jump ship at the first opportunity, or will become a negative source of energy and infect others with the same 'disease'.

So, what do you do? How can you make sure you hire people who are not only stars where they came from, but who can also be stars for your company?

* Hire people who 'fit' the culture of the company.
* Hire people who 'fit' the profile of the best employees currently the position.
* Understand the 'Total Person' you are potentially hiring.

OK, so now you know what to look for, here's how you figure out the 'fit' criteria and the 'Total Person'.

You may have heard of employee assessment tools that someone takes and the results tell you who the person is. You may think of these as personality tests. But, that's not really accurate.

Most personality tests tell you what a person thinks of themselves. But, what they think of themselves today may be different in a month or two because the things around them are changing. These are things like whether they consider themselves optimistic, a steady team player, analytical, etc.

For hiring people, I'm talking about assessment tools that tell you about the core behavioral characteristics about the individual; the kind of things that don't really change very much once they become an adult. These are things like energy level-how may balls they can juggle at one time--, how social they are, whether they like to be managed closely or not, etc.

A good assessment tool will not only tell you about the candidate's behavioral characteristics, but also their learning style, their math and vocabulary skills, their communication skills, and their occupational interests. That's called a 'Total Person' assessment according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Now let's talk about 'fit' with the company culture and the position. This part is easy. You give your best performers in the position who have been with the company at least 12 months the same assessment the candidates will take. You then build a profile from the top performers' assessments.

This profile is then compared to the results of the candidate. The closer the match, the more likely they are to be top performers as well. Not only that, they will also fit the culture of the company.

The end result is that you will hire top performers who are likely to be a 'fit' for the long term. The more comfortable they are, the happier they are...and that's what we all want.

Remember, employees make companies great in good times and bad...hire good employees who 'fit' and make your company Great!

About the Author

Mike is an internationally recognized expert at helping employers meet their business objectives by teaching them how to get the right people into the right seat on their bus. Most employers face continuing challenges in hiring, developing and retaining their best employees. Mike guides his clients through this maze. To experience how this is done, sign up for a free job analysis survey for one of your open positions at

Michael Beek