Navigating Today's Hiring Minefield:
Who Is Available & Do You Really Want Them?
These days, with rapid economic and technological change continuing to impact your business nonstop, is it any wonder your personnel requirements are also in rapid flux? In this article we’ll take stock of some of the more recent changes that are influencing the hiring needs of printing companies dramatically, then suggest what you can do not only to resolve their impact but also come out on top.
The four change factors most affecting the current job market are:
1. Reduced number of companies
Not surprisingly, with attrition occurring in business in general and the manufacturing sector in particular, statistics reveal that the number of North-American printing companies is in decline. Even taking into account such complicating factors as consolidations and acquisitions that may skew these statistics slightly, without doubt the number of companies in our industry is shrinking.
2. Increase in productivity initiatives, lean manufacturing, amalgamations, & downsizing
Productivity and lean manufacturing initiatives, corporate amalgamations, and downsizing are all becoming increasingly prevalent in our industry. Their streamlining effects mean that fewer people are required to accomplish an equal or greater volume of work than was achieved by workers of the past. Our emerging leaner workflows also require personnel with differing and often greater or more complex expertise than their predecessors. (None of these phenomena are new to the industry, by the way; but rather, they are typical of all prior transitions we have historically experienced.)
3. Wildly fluctuating motivations among job seekers
Except perhaps in cases of receivership or bankruptcy, companies that downsize typically provide a severance package that takes the short-term pressure off former staff seeking new employment. Yet some ex-employees who are self-driven will still hit the ground running to find new and exciting career opportunities, exemplifying the type of person dynamic organizations want to hire. Still others will move forward quickly only out of concern that in challenging economic times not as many jobs are available. Job seekers with this negative type of motivation--and those whose severance packages have run out or who simply need a pay check--may panic and jump at the first opportunity that comes along, only to discover later that it isn’t a good fit. Those who take longer to find jobs may do so either for bad reasons (e.g., their skills have become obsolete in today’s marketplace) or else good reasons (e.g., they are pursuing an appropriate career plan or specialize in areas with a narrower focus that require longer rehiring cycles.) So unless employers simply want to exploit short-term hires by transitioning their former employer’s business and then cutting them loose (a practice we regard as untenable), we recommend that before hiring employers should carefully assess each candidate’s motivation and fit.
4. New workforce demographics
Already the mass retirement of aging Baby Boomers is upon us and will continue to reduce the size of our available workforce drastically. Concomitantly PrintLink has observed that the printing industry is facing a specific shortage of middle-aged middle managers—the precise demographic group it logically requires to replace outbound retirees.
Reasons for the absence of people in this business-critical middle-aged group include the fact that, after the birth of the Baby-Boom generation comprising today’s 55-to-65-year-olds, the birthrate again subsided, yielding fewer people in today’s 40-to-55 age group Statistics also suggest that a significant number of enterprising individuals in the latter group, who found themselves unemployed during the financial downturn of 1987, started successfully pursuing their own entrepeneurial avenues at that time, thus removing themselves permanently from the talent pool of people available for hire by today’s employers.
To illustrate the resulting problem, take a look around you. How many people can you count in your own workplace who are between the ages of 40 and 55? On the other hand, how many older staff aged 55 to 65 may soon be considering retirement? Given these contrasting numbers, how will you solve the challenge of recruiting successors for outbound retirees and of managing, capturing, and transferring their accumulated knowledge and experience to their replacements?
Such complications for succession planning are escalated still further by the generally acknowledged fact that fewer and fewer currently employed up-and-comers as well as young people new to the workforce are opting for long-term careers in the printing industry. Still other workers who have been downsized or restructured out of their positions in the printing industry recently are being forced to defect to other sectors owing to a shortage of new printing jobs.
The Baby Boomers in our workforce face a different scenario: not surprisingly in light of the current investment turmoil, some of them who were previously contemplating retirement have now delayed their plans. PrintLink believes this current development offers employers positive benefits: firstly, it postpones the workplace’s pending retirement brain drain by enabling employers to continue tapping the knowledge, history, and expertise of more senior personnel on either a full-time or contractual basis. And secondly, it buys employers additional time and manpower to finalize and execute their succession plans for their business.
More broadly speaking, however, the upstart of all the above four change factors is that you likely need fewer employees but ones of higher caliber than ever before. At the same time, owing to recent layoffs, restructuring, streamlining, and postponed retirements, you’re confronted with a larger and constantly growing pool of available job candidates. This wider pool translates into more resumes to sift through and more likelihood that candidates will take your job out of desperation, only to desert you in the short term. And if you’re a typical printer, you’re also having a hard time even locating appropriately qualified middle managers with advancement potential—folks who require a considerable two-way preliminary audition, complete with detailed negotiations on prospective working conditions, salary, and incentives. Thus, in summary, when hiring in the current marketplace, you are faced with the need to conduct more careful and complex screening and communications with candidates than ever before at precisely the same time when your availability and resources are already stretched thinner than ever.
You need specialized help
For reasons cited above, challenging times enhance the benefit of PrintLink’s industry-specific staffing services. Our North-America-wide database of job candidates, acquired over 16 years in the personnel business, reduces your chances of having to withstand a costly, drawn-out job vacancy. Our acumen at assessing candidates also reduces your likelihood of having to conduct another time-consuming and expensive search to replace a bad hire. Our managers possess the expertise to screen candidates thoroughly for hard and soft skills, as well as their fit with your corporate culture and long-range strategic plans. We are able to identify candidates with not only the necessary qualifications but also the right motivation, learning aptitude, and adaptability to contribute to your company’s future success. Additionally, our negotiating prowess helps ensure that you strike a mutually satisfying long-term hiring agreement with choice candidates, and all our placements are covered by a no-risk money-back guarantee.
Think about it: do you fix your own car or do your own taxes? Of course not. So especially when facing the complications of challenging times, it makes similar sense for you to enlist a personnel specialist to help you maximize the quality and retention of the all-important people who manage and operate your business.