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How heavy are your butterflies?

Posted by Colin Kingsbury

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Dec 29, 2005 4:30:00 PM

Via the prolific Jobster Blog comes yet another story on today's talent-shortage-and-this-time-we-mean-it:
check out this quote from randa newsome, head of staffing at defense contractor raytheon, regarding the challenge of finding top talent in today's tightening labor markets: "The biggest human resources, staffing challenge I have ever faced is this one."
Full article here.

Compare and contrast with this November 16th article at the Wall Street Journal (subscription reqired), titled, " Behind 'Shortage' of Engineers: Employers Grow More Choosy":
Consider the case of recruiter Rich Carver. In February, he got a call from the U.S. unit of JSP Corp., a Tokyo plastic-foam maker. The company was looking for an engineer with manufacturing experience to serve as a shift supervisor at its Butler, Pa., plant, which makes automobile-bumper parts.

Within two weeks, Mr. Carver and a colleague at the Hudson Highland Group had collected more than 200 resumes. They immediately eliminated just over 100 people who didn't have the required bachelor of science degree, even though many had the kind of job experience the company wanted. A further 65 or so then fell out of the running. Some were deemed overqualified. Others lacked experience with the proper manufacturing software. JSP brought in a half-dozen candidates for an interview, and by August the company had its woman.

To JSP, taking six months to fill the position confirmed its sense that competition for top engineers is intense. Company officials "struggle to fill" openings, says human-resources manager Vicki Senko.

But for candidates facing 200-to-1 odds of getting the job, the struggle seems all on their side. "Companies are looking for a five-pound butterfly. Not finding them doesn't mean there's a shortage of butterflies," says Richard Tax, president of the American Engineering Association, which campaigns to prevent losses of engineering jobs.
This made me think of yet another story, this one about how Southwest Airlines has remained profitable because of the long-term fuel contracts they signed several years ago.
The better-than-expected profit the Dallas-based carrier reported Thursday morning would have been a loss without the benefit of fuel savings it locked in years ago.
In commodities markets for things like electrical power, there are at least two prices: long-term contract prices, and "spot rates" to buy one unit of whatever, right now.

Companies today, especially in the US, basically buy all of their talent at "spot prices." They'll negotiate multi-year contracts to buy toner and fax paper, but unless they have a C-title, employees are all at-will. When you're looking at positions that are going to be in-demand for years to come does this make a lot of sense?

The bottom line is that this subject is no longer about feel-goodism, social justice, PR value, or anything else "soft and squishy." A company that is able to secure quality talent resources for longer terms at lower costs will deliver superior financial performance to its shareholders. 

Topics: Recruiting & Hiring