Some Wild Ideas on How to Get 1.8 Million People Hired Before the Summer

Some Wild Ideas on How to Get 1.8 Million People Hired Before the Summer

January 13, 2013

Every month the U.S. Department of Labor publishes their JOLTs report showing how many open job are available in the U.S. (graph). As a leading indicator, this is a useful tool for predicting real job growth over the next 3-6 months.

For the past year the number of open jobs has ranged from 3.5 to 3.7 million, and the average net new jobs filled from these openings ranged from 132 thousand to 192 thousand (last six months). The December 2012 report showed 155 thousand net new hires. Since actual hiring lags the job openings by a few months, you can expect continued flatness for the foreseeable future.

Despite this rather dismal forecast, there is much that can be done to get Americans back to work. This is the 800 pound gorilla in the room – the 3.7 million jobs open and available today. Even if this overall number won’t grow by much in the near term, getting them filled more quickly would be a huge benefit to the 12 million unemployed. So my rather wild ‘n crazy idea is to figure out how to fill half these open jobs – 1.8 million – before the summer. This starts by breaking down the barriers and bottlenecks that prevent qualified and worthy people from getting these jobs.

With this in mind here are just some ideas for getting 1.8 million or so people back to work before the summer. Add yours to the list. I’ll host a spontaneous webcast next week to review the best of them.

  1. Put your emotions in the parking lot before you conduct an interview. More hiring mistakes are made in the first 30 minutes of the interview, especially not hiring the right person.
  2. Define the job before you define the person. We don’t have a big skills gap, we have a bigger thinking gap.
  3. Reverse engineer your company’s hiring process. Why not try to find and apply for your own company’s jobs and see what happens? It won’t be pretty, but you’ll come up with half a dozen fixes in a few hours.
  4. Don’t use a surplus of talent process in a scarcity of talent situation. Most of the 3.7 million open jobs describe lateral transfers, yet most top people are looking for career moves.
  5. Offer 30-day tryouts rather than full-time employment. To minimize the risk of hiring someone full-time, offer short projects to see how people perform. This is comparable to a paid internship.
  6. Candidates: demonstrate your competence before applying. I suggested to one woman to send samples of her best graphic design work rather than bemoan the fact that no one would interview her based on her resume. Last week, one young man took up my challenge to conduct a quick competitive analysis of a target company’s product line to use as a door opener to obtain his first marketing position.

The hiring process at most companies is inefficient, cumbersome and inaccurate. Getting 50% better at this part in the next six months will result in the one-time hiring of 1.8 million people, dropping the U.S. unemployment rate from 7.8% to 6.3%. That would be a summer to remember.


Lou Adler is the Amazon best-selling author of Hire With Your Head (Wiley, 2007) and the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! His new book, The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired, will be published in January 2013.


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