We Have Jobs – Where Are All Of The Candidates?

Q. We thought with unemployment as high as it is we wouldn't have any problem finding people. However, the opposite seems to be happening. We get a lot of resumes, but the people are not the right fit, they don't have the right experience or skills, and often aren't even close to what we are looking for. Why with such high unemployment is it so difficult to find people?

This is a common misunderstanding by companies. As a recruiter, companies just don't believe it when I tell them finding top talent is much harder when unemployment is high and easier when unemployment is low. I can sum up why in one word, “fear.”

This happens because even with 12% unemployment in California, only a very small percentage of those people will actually be qualified for your position. Variables to consider include location, compensation, industry, the right skills, years of experience, cultural fit and so on. This means that there really isn't that huge of a pool of candidates to choose from in the unemployed arena.

That then leaves those currently working. But stop and think about those working for a minute. They are thinking, “The devil I know is better than the one I don't know.” Do you believe they want to take the risk of changing jobs, having something not work out and then face unemployment for 6 months. Not very likely. Chances are they know people that have been unemployed for a long time so working candidates bunker down. Staying with a company where they may not be happy is a whole lot better than unemployment. As a result, most employed people are not looking or even interested in considering something.

Contrast this with times of very low unemployment. There is no fear. The candidate figures that if the new job doesn't work out, no problem, I will find another in no time so they are willing to consider other opportunities.

Don't underestimate fear in your analysis.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

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I welcome your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard


About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.


  1. This is an excellent opportunity for organizations, especially those hoarding cash, to hire candidates that lack the optimal background. It provides these companies the chance to mold a less qualified employee to their standard. Unfortunately the titans of industry are just as scared as candidates are and we are collectively paralyzed.

  2. Brad,
    I enjoyed this blog! I am in total agreement that employers have a hard time believing that with unemployment rates what they are that “great” or even “qualified” candidates are not walking through their doors! Truth is if you fish the same pond adventually you run out of prize fish! Employers must develop alternate sources of candidates and be willing to take action outside the box to attract them. Thanks for sharing!



  3. Thanks for another great article, Brad. I would like to add something again. Fear is an important issue, but there is something more.

    The unemployed people are tired to look for a job, therefore some of them just downgraded their lifestyles and don’t look for a job anymore, others – most active and skilled ones – use their entrepreneurial skills to create new businesses.

    They have no fear – risk management is part of their life style, not just a skill. Top talents don’t sit and wait while some recruiter will find them, they are creators, not users. They don’t want to stay in line while someone considers if they will be selected in that very small percentage of fitting candidates or not, its a waste of time.

    As soon as they have their businesses up and running, it is almost impossible to hire such people – the most exciting business is creation, either if one is a decision maker or member of a good team.
    A great example is Steve Jobs, God bless his soul.
    Alex Striganov´s last blog post ..Dr. Habil. Gennady N Gipich has joined the team of IS Aviation advisers.

  4. Have you ever heard of something called training. No body is ever a perfect fit. Hire for the core skill set, train and then retain. I hear this nobody is qualified ridiculous perspective and wonder how we got to this point. Has American business forgotten what training is all about?

    • Jeff;
      Training is a good thing but who is responsible for the training, the company or the person? Should the candidate have invested in continuing education and training? People pay for school, college, trade schools and many professions require on-going education. So I agree core skill set, train and retain. But who should take that responsibility? That is the question? I believe in a very difficult economy the person needs an edge and therefore must invest in training to keep the edge. Whatever the company is willing to add on is icing on the cake.

  5. I like the idea of retaining capable employees without the need of providing additional compensation. It is not always do I find good employees and I definitely want to learn how to keep them motivated and happy with their current job.
    Kevin´s last blog post ..how to get a girl to like you

  6. Great post I also have a colloge degree and found it was very hard to find a job in my field. Happen to have a friend in the longshoreman industry. I have a job with them now after five years and hard work I got a promotion in managment making over 100k a year. Now that I have to hire an retain people your blog gave me some good ideals.
    Lance burton´s last blog post ..Oil Rig Jobs

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