September 1, 2011

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Utah Business Staff

September 1, 2011

So the numbers, in terms of job creation as well as unemployment, continue to be fairly positive for Utah.

PRICE: There’s still a large pool of applicants out there, depending on the industry and the type of skill set that you are looking for. In construction, there’s still 20 percent plus unemployment in that industry. So when we do hire, there are plenty of qualified individuals right now. That’s going to change if the economy ever strengthens, but right now there’s a lot of applicants.

ROUX: We actually have the opposite problem because we are in an industry that has specific skill sets that are required for the work that we do. I’m finding that even though there are a lot of unemployed people, I have a mismatch of qualifications and we’re really struggling to find highly qualified people.

THOMAS: One of our top challenges in HR is finding that specialized employee. The other element is people are reluctant to move. There is that perception that the economy is not strong and so it’s a bigger risk to go somewhere. If it doesn’t work out, then what do I do? So the process, the timeline, is much more than it has been in the past to recruit somebody to some of our top positions.

ROUX: The time to fill is longer, and we’re doing more national searches now, sadly. I would prefer to have someone here locally.

THOMAS: We have some of the very best educational programs in communications. BYU is ranked very high in their advertising and public relations. Many of these people go out of state, and we’re trying to find the people who’ve gone out of state and trying to bring them back—New York, San Francisco, Seattle, a number of different markets. We’re really struggling to find that right skill set. If we can find it here, we’ll take it from here. It’s just finding that specialized top talent, and we can’t get people to move from your company to ours.

PRICE: There is a reluctance, if I am an employee, to look when the economy is a little bit flat because if my employer finds out, then I’m the next one on the layoff or reduction list. There is no incentive for me to go look next door even though it might be a better opportunity.

COTTERELL: We are seeing what we refer to as a candidate driven market with those more qualification specific type companies. And qualified candidates now have multiple offers to choose from. Before, the biggest challenge we would have as an executive recruiting firm was recruiting a candidate knowing that their company was going to do all that they could to retain them—so counteroffers and all those types of things. That’s still the case, but now we’re seeing once a candidate is open to looking, they are saying, “Well, gee, there are more companies hiring, and I’m going to see what else is going on.”

THOMAS: To that point, to be willing to take that risk, they want a lot more. And, frankly, if we can find the right people, we’re willing to pay it. There are good, high paying jobs if you have the right experience and the right skill set.

We have to create an environment and a culture that is terrific. That’s the secret to recruiting really good people. Your reputation is going to precede you for better or worse. There’s lots of things you can’t control, but one thing you can control is your culture and we really invest highly in that.

TSAI: Out of state recruitment is still a major issue for large companies. American Express, Zions Bank, Rio Tinto, the U—there was a collaboration of HR managers within each of these companies, which were having a tough time recruiting out of state talent to Utah. Trying to attract high level managers, technical folks to the state was tough. The stigma that Utah has nationwide, if not worldwide, still exists and that stigma is a tough thing to break, regardless of what the reality is here.

WHALEN: Keep in mind that creating and maintaining a positive culture does not have to cost a lot of money, either. A critical piece of it, however, is strong leadership from the top, and that is where HR can really show its value, by investing in leadership programs and coming up with great recognition and reward programs that are affordable and pump up the culture.

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