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Job Opening: “Experience Needed.” Really?

Count yourself as fortunate if you’re not among the scores of employers desperately searching to fill the nationwide shortages of truck drivers, nurses, and industrial construction workers. But don’t start feeling smug either.

The trends indicate a greater demand for workers than can be supplied because of baby boomer retirements. The declining growth rate of the working-age population isn’t helping either; it’s at just 0.15–0.25 percent per year, which is down from 0.3–0.4 percent in recent years. Six of 12 major urban areas tracked are also reporting shortages of unskilled, entry-level, frontline workers right now.

Whether you’re desperate now or will be desperate later, here are some uncommon, common sense ideas to help you meet your labor needs:

1. Rethink your requirements. Does the job really require someone with “x” years of experience? If you will hire an average person who’s done an average job for five years, why wouldn’t you hire a star employee who’s done an outstanding job for two years? How about hiring inexperienced people with great attitudes and talent and developing an in-house training program that rewards your best employees for training your new hires?

2. Is there another way to get the job done? Can you or should you outsource the job? Could existing employees take it on for added compensation or other possible incentives? That still may be a lot cheaper than a new hire. Could you fill the position if it could be “job shared?”

When Experience Is Needed

If you cannot get around your particular requirement for experience, you will find the people you need in one place and one place only — among the gainfully employed. In other words, when there’s a labor shortage for any one type of worker, everyone who is any good and wants to work is already working.

So, you know right where to target your recruiting efforts, right? Not if you are among those who are reluctant to actively recruit employed people, and there are many. Some don’t want to “upset the applecart” with folks they know from a trade association, the local Rotary Club, or their kids’ athletic program. Or they may just be against it on moral grounds. Whatever the reason, people who refuse to recruit already employed people fail to take into account three things:

1. It isn’t personal; it’s just business. Your #1 job — the one you’re being paid for, in fact — is to protect the best interests of your organization. If you need experience, then go get it!

2. It isn’t stealing. Stealing is a wrongheaded concept here because employees do not belong to their employers. Employees are not an owned asset; they are investors who invest talents and labor for a return on their investment. (You can have the best employees if your organization is the best investment they can make.)

3. It’s a win/win situation. The companies with the best employees are the most productive, innovative, flexible, and profitable. They are good for their employees, good for their customers, and good for their communities.

So get out there and figure out how you are going to meet your company’s labor needs!

About the Author:

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally recognized consultant, author, and speaker on strategies for hiring and retaining the best employees. He is president of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training, processes, and tools for recruiting, selection, and retention of the best hourly workforce. Kleiman is the author of five books, including the best-selling Hire Tough, Manage Easy. For more information, contact: Mel Kleiman, (713) 771-4401,,

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