Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Employee Shortage?

I just read an article by an exec search firm referring to the society wide need for more nonprofit "talent". Of course there has been much said (including by yours truly) about generation change in the nonprofit sector as well as in society as a whole.

But, in general, the early prognosticators have been wrong, primarily regarding their assumptions that Boomers would retire on schedule at 60 or 62 or 65. We want to work forever...and then there's the economy.

Over the weekend, a couple of friends and I had in interesting g-chat about this. We all agreed: in terms of a need for more talent than there is a supply: That's SO 2008. This is primarily the case because of the economic meltdown. We spun the issue for a bit and came up with these conclusions:

First, most Boomers who were thinking of retiring in one, two or three years have put that on hold since their 401k's have shrunk 30-50%. The few exceptions are people who have a working spouse, a spouse with an actual pension, or are independently wealthy. Thus, many of the nonprofit management teams that were heading for the door are (to mix metaphors) hanging in for another lap or two around the racetrack.

Second: The economy is ruthless on new and recent grads. Lesson? We in the nonprofit sector may be able to get great young talent that would have gone to the for-profit world if the economy were healthy.

Third: Those of us who do have job openings (and some nonprofits do) should remember: It's an employers market--you can get better people (of all ages) for the same price. Lesson? Take your time when hiring. I talked to four HR people at medium to large nonprofits this week said they were averaging 75-100 resumes per week. Normal? 5-10 tops.

I know many readers are not in the position to hire: you're just hanging on. More about that in tomorrow's post, when I start a series of posts on Mission-Based Management in Tough Financial Times.


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