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We provide competency-based behavioral interviewing training for interview teams including hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers. We have been publishing articles for over 40 years to address the myriad of issues encountered in the process of hiring top talent.

Hiring Amidst Layoffs

INTERVIEW EDGE • APRIL 1991

It should be easier to hire when so many layoffs are occurring, right? Wrong. While whole layers of management are going out the window, a confusing trend is developing. Despite layoffs, firms are finding some jobs hard to fill.

The problem does not seem to be a lack of people - recent reports indicate that as many as 75 percent of the newly unemployed are managers, professionals, and administrative and technical staff. Rather it seems that there are growing gaps between job demands and worker skills. Positions which are especially difficult to fill are ones requiring technical aptitude or highly specialized training.

The Wall Street Journal reported that National Semiconductor has been working from a data base of hundreds of people it terminated last year to fill 150 new engineering positions. However, only 16 engineers have been hired back. Despite strong credentials, many of the others didn't fit because of shifts in chip technology.

Companies are trying a variety of strategies to find better-qualified people, from recruiting more aggressively at colleges to awarding cash to employees who recommend good prospects. Many businesses are stepping up in-house training too. As the workforce grows more diverse, another solution is the effective recruitment of culturally diverse people.

A shrinking talent pool, faster technological change and greater demographic shifts are likely to create even more profound hiring difficulties for companies in the years to come. A finely tuned selection process will become more crucial to staying competitive, even in the face of layoffs.

In a future issue we will discuss the need to interview your current staff before any staff reduction decisions are made.