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“Where have all the good (wo)men gone?”

Ever heard a someone say something like this while in the dating scene? I certainly have.

And I have heard the same kind of complaint in recruiting, too — from frustrated job seekers who say there are no more good companies out there, and from business owners who feel the pool of great candidates has simply dried up.

I have felt this way myself, as both a frustrated job seeker and a business owner.

One of the most unfortunate effects of this problem is that, after repeated negative experiences, our perception can become our reality. We grow convinced that this is the way things are and always will be.

What happens then?

Often, people will simply settle for mediocrity. The dater will settle for someone who isn’t really an ideal partner, the job seeker will settle for a job they don’t really want but pays well enough, and the company will settle for employees who are decent but not all-stars.

When you start a business from scratch, it becomes an extremely personal matter. It can be hard to let go and delegate — and once you are willing to delegate, the right help may seem impossible to find. You spend time, money, and energy hiring and training a new employee who doesn’t end up working out. Instead of the benefits you’d hoped for, hiring has only caused pain and frustration.

And larger companies face similar problems. When they fail to find and hire the right people, that affects the success of the entire business and everyone who works there, from front-line employees all the way up to the executives.

How can companies address this problem and find those great candidates who seem nonexistent on first glance? Before we get to the solution, we have to really understand the problem.

It’s All in Your Head

Allow me to draw on my experience working with hundreds of frustrated job seekers to clarify this situation. This will help me show that what job seekers and employers think is the problem isn’t really the problem.

My clients who are frustrated job seekers deeply believe there are no more good companies out there. This belief is based on their experiences: poor results in their own job searches and negative environments at their current workplaces.

These job seekers are at a point where they can acknowledge what they’re doing isn’t working, but most aren’t yet ready to acknowledge the real reason they can’t find a good company: themselves.

Simply put, these job seekers have not yet clearly identified what they really want. They haven’t focused on a role or industry that can take them where they want to go. They are so focused on the other people, places, and things they blame for their pain that they cannot see themselves in the equation at all.

And I’ve learned — sometimes the hard way — that it’s not my job to convince my clients of this truth. I’ve come to respect the process. Their belief is firmly ingrained, and negative emotions have been building up behind in them for quite some time. The only thing I can do is share my own stories of previous clients who felt similarly but were able to achieve great job search results regardless. If the job seeker can be open to the possibility that there are good job opportunities out there and willing to try new things, they can have those results, too.

When it comes to companies that can’t attract the right talent, I’ve found the same kind of mindset is at work. The company leaders think there is no more good talent left, but what these leaders don’t acknowledge is that, 9 times out of 10, their company’s brand, mission, values, and vision are out of alignment — and so is the message being sent to candidates.

Realign Your Brand With Where You Want to Go

The solution to this problem is simple, but not necessarily easy. It certainly isn’t an overnight fix.

The solution is realignment. You have to realign your company’s brand with your desired direction. That means taking a realistic look and defining where your company has been, where it is now, and where you want it to go.

You must reignite the passion and purpose behind why your company exists in the first place. As the internationally renowned Simon Sinek recommends, you have to “start with why.”

Once you’ve done all that, you can recalibrate yourself, your company, and its mission. This is where the magic happens. This is where you get the “mojo” your company needs to attract all the great candidates who’ve been missing.

The process of realignment and rebranding will involve a number of critical components, including:

- leadership realignment;
- a clear articulation of the company’s mission statement, goals, and values;
- and communication from the top down to create group cohesion and alignment between employees and the company’s new brand.

It is a long and sometimes painful process, but the good part is that none of it needs to be perfect. You and the rest of your company can all learn and grow as you head in this new direction together. After all, isn’t messily heading in the right direction much better than staying where you are?

Another crucial part of this process is identifying who the “right people” are when it comes to employees. Many people make sweeping declarations like, “I can’t find the right candidates to work for me,” but when I follow up by asking who the right candidates are, they’re stumped. If they can give me any answer at all, it’s generally vague and unhelpful: “I want people who will work hard, have a positive attitude, and make the company more successful!”

Yeah — so does every other company on the planet!

Like your mission, vision, and values, your ideal candidate’s profile must be clearly articulated. Who are they? What are their attributes? What is their character like? What are their values? Why would they be a good fit with your company in particular?

If you don’t take the time to do this, you can’t expect anything to change. Maybe you’ll get more people applying for your jobs, but without an ideal candidate profile on hand, you’ll still struggle to hire the right people.

Scott Engler is the author of The Job Inner-View and Legends of the Recruiting and Career World. Read his latest, The Problem and the Solution, on his website.



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