Anita Norris sits in Damien Lanyard's office, looking somewhat dejected. As the assistant vice president of human resources (HR) at Cromwell, Inc., a computer sales/ service firm with approximately 2,000 employees, Anita is in charge of companywide recruiting. Over the past six months Cromwell has experienced several major challenges with regard to recruitment, including an inability to attract quality applicants. Damien, the vice president of HR, rocks quietly in his chair for a moment before asking what Anita anticipates: “What's going on here? We've got jobs staying open for weeks before filling them. When we do fill them we're not getting the cream of the crop. I'm told we're not sufficiently responsive to workers' expectations, and word is that new hires are nervous about joining us because of increased overseas outsourcing. So, Anita, what's going on and how can we fix this?”
This fictitious scenario is playing out for real in numerous businesses nationwide. With a roller-coaster-like economy that continues to confound labor experts, employers hesitate to launch aggressive recruitment efforts, despite knowing that jobs will remain unfilled, existing workers will become overstressed and unmotivated, and productivity and quality of services or products could ultimately decline. Conflicting newspaper reports support a collective sense of confusion. For example, consider these headlines from two papers on the same day, January 8, 2005: The New York Times reported, “Jobs Picture Shows Some Signs of Life” Newsday stated, “Job
An offshoot of an unstable economic recovery that impacts recruitment is the increasing number of employers that are requiring new hires to sign noncompete agreements in an attempt to keep what talent they have from leaving and working for the competition. These enforceable contracts, barring employees from working for competitors in the future or from working on projects for a competing product, often result in costly litigation when violated. They also increase hard feelings between competitors and limit future options for employees. Upon learning of a prospective employer's noncompete requirement, applicants may balk and opt to decline an offer of employment rather than sign.
In addition to the economy, there are other factors that inhibit recruitment efforts. For example, consider the alarming impact of illiteracy in this country. According to literacy experts, 20 percent of the population of the United States cannot read