HR group: Hiring will be rocky in 2012

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COMMENTARY The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is predicting weak hiring in both manufacturing and service industries as we head into 2012. The organization expects fewer companies to be hiring this January than a year ago, January.

But, on the other hand, recruiters are also reporting that it is becoming more difficult to find the right candidates.

Logically, this makes no sense. Unemployment is still high. Tons of people would love jobs, but recruiters are finding it "difficult" to fill positions.  One would think that all a recruiter would have to do is post a job description on Craigslist, and people would be lined up outside, ready to work. But they are not. Here are some factors that may be causing the disconnect:

1. Employers are looking for the perfect candidate. Instead of being satisfied with a "good enough" candidate, they continue to search for perfection. They assume it must exist because there are so many people available. The problem with this is, deciding what perfection is and then finding an actual human who meets those qualifications are very difficult.

2. Candidates have the wrong skill sets. The Washington Post reports, "Among recent college graduates, those with the highest rates of unemployment had undergraduate degrees in architecture (13.9 percent), the arts (11.1 percent) and the humanities (9.4 percent), according to the study. The recent college graduates with the lowest rates of unemployment had degrees in health (5.4 percent), education (5.4 percent), and agriculture and natural resources (7 percent.) Those with business and engineering degrees also fared relatively well."

If the job you are hiring for truly requires someone who can do X, it doesn't matter if you have 500 smart people who can do Y, they aren't the people you're looking for.

3. Companies exclude the unemployed from consideration. Many people only want to hire people who are currently employed because they assume that if you're unemployed it's your own fault. While some people are terminated for cause, many of the unemployed were fabulous workers and would continue to be fabulous workers if they could find jobs. Companies lose out on many things, according to One Thing New, including tax breaks, good public relations, and dedicated employees. 

4. Unemployment benefits are just too good. Most people receiving unemployment would, undoubtedly, love to have a job. But, some employers report that people would rather take benefits rather than work. Business owner Don Harrison writes in the Marietta Times:

Earlier this year after I hired two new full-time employees, went through our company's orientation process, fitted them with our work clothing and booked them to start within a week, they both quit. One called ahead of the start date to apologize but wanted to inform us he would not be coming in because the government had just extended unemployment benefits again. The second one just did not show on his first day and when I called him he said he couldn't come in now because unemployment had been extended and he was making almost as much as we were planning to start him out with.

It's doubtful that these are the only two qualified people who turn down work in favor of continued benefits. Companies may find it difficult to recruit if the jobs they have to offer don't pay significantly more than unemployment benefits.

5. Political unknowns. It's an election year and while candidates from all sides will promise the moon as well as a great climate for employees or businesses (depending on the audience) no one really knows what the outcomes will be. As a result, businesses can be skittish about hiring when things are unsure from a political--and therefore regulatory/legal prospective.

All in all, SHRM's prediction of a less-than-brilliant beginning to the year sounds unfortunately accurate.