From a Recruiter’s Viewpoint – Vol 42 5 Reasons Employers Are Having Difficulty Hiring Middle Management Talent and What to Do About It

5 Reasons Employers Are Having Difficulty Hiring Middle Management Talent and What to Do About It

 Unemployment is at its lowest level in the past 10 years. Wages and home values have not fully rebounded from The Great Recession. These factors and others have limited the availability of middle to senior level management candidates. It is no longer a client driven hiring market. The leverage has moved to the candidate pool. There are 5 primary reasons driving this current dynamic which has resulted in a limited amount of qualified and interested executives willing to consider a move.

  1. Relocation is a Major Issue.

 Just about every homeowner lost equity when the housing market crashed in 2008 and most have yet to recover the full extent of their losses. Without the equity to reinvest in another home, it makes moving unattractive and financially challenging. Further many companies are unwilling to pay relocation expenses or only offer a meager amount to relocate. The result is a limited geographical market. Instead of hiring the best available candidate nationwide with 100’s of people to recruit, you are limited to who is available locally, typically 30 or so, potential candidates. When specific industry experience is needed, this can result in an extended period of time to identify candidates that meet the requirements of the position. That assumes that they even exist locally.

  1. Non-compete Agreements are More Common.

More and more companies have non-compete agreements and are enforcing them. As the printing and packaging market has consolidated, the larger surviving entities typically have these agreements in place, and the resources to enforce them. This also severely limits the available talent, which includes those who have been terminated by a competitor in a cost cutting action.

  1. Assessing Risk is a Large Part of the Decision When Considering a Change in Employment.

The loyalty bond between employer and employee has been eroded by the severe cost cutting and industry consolidation that has occurred over the past 10 years. Candidates are asking:

  • Is the company financially stable, growing and profitable?
  • Do they have a track record of downsizing or continually cutting back employees?
  • Do they have high turnover?
  • Do people like working there?
  • What is their reputation in the marketplace?
  • Have they paid out bonuses in recent years?
  • Candidates have come to believe that many companies focus 100% on their bottom line and not necessarily on their employees.

All these questions are part of their risk assessment and resultant cautiousness. No one wants to be the last one hired, first one fired.


Too many talented executives have been RIF’d or terminated through no fault of their own due to new bosses, new owners, changes in strategy, or impatient management not giving them sufficient time to achieve the task assigned. This makes individuals “gun shy”. It also makes their resumes appear unattractive with too many positions in too many years.

  1. Not Unhappy Where They Are.

When employees are treated well, consistently with respect and fairness, are provided opportunities to grow, and enjoy the people they work with, they have no reason to consider a change. The notion of a good work life balance makes employees less apt to pursue other opportunities if they are content where they are. Although the current situation may not be perfect, it is more acceptable today to remain there, particularly when coupled with perceived risk and uncertainty.

Unhappy employees result from dysfunctional management, micro-management, nepotism, favoritism, a lack of resources, changes in compensation plans and other controllable factors. People expect to earn more money but seldom move just for money. They move because of the environment or for a better opportunity with a better company.

  1. Compensation is always a Major Factor.

 What someone is paid determines their market value and is a qualifier for the next position. In the recent past, companies have taken advantage of the abundance of talent available and offered lower salaries. Many people accepted lower paying jobs rather than not work. This created ill will within the candidate pool. Companies wanted more for less and could get it.

What to Do About It.

 Employers have several choices to make regarding how to expand the pool of potential candidates.

  • The smart move is to have a strong reputation in the marketplace, build your brand, invest in your employees, train them and give them development and promotional opportunities. Position your company as a great place to work
  • Be extremely patient or consider changing their requirements.
  • Offer a competitive relocation package.
  • Provide a more attractive compensation package.
  • Check non-compete agreements for enforceability rather than reject the candidate outright.
  • Reconsider candidates who have had multiple positions in recent years and recognize that these executives are victims of an unsteady market and are not under-performers.
  • Promote from within and continue to grow your own talent saves you money in the long run. Start with supervisors and mentor them to grow into managers with OJT and continued education. Provide cross functional assignments for grooming to higher levels.


 The end result is that hiring middle to senior level managers is taking longer and can be exasperating for all concerned. These issues are unlikely to change in the short run, especially if the economy continues to improve. The talent is out there, but maybe not in your zip code. Consider the different ways you can expand the candidate pool in order to attract the best people available nationwide.


Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business for over 20 years and can help you find the best people for your business.

Best Regards,

Bob Harrington CPC
Bob Harrington Associates



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s