Are People UNWILLING or UNABLE to Work For You?

I’m a binary guy. I like 0’s and 1’s. I like on and off. I like yes and no. I LOVE light switches…but dimmer switches confuse me. Getting to a binary question seems like the only way to start a problem-solving process. And so it is with figuring out why people are NOT applying for your open positions.

It might be helpful to define terms here:

UNABLE: lacks the physical or mental capability to take an action. A person may be highly motivated to take the desired action but cannot due to these limitations. Impossible to complete the action.

UNWILLING: May be both physically and mentally capable of performing the desired action but lacks sufficient motivation to do so. Has made a value-based decision to not take the action.

Now let’s ask the question again. If people are not applying for open positions in your organization are they UNWILLING or UNABLE to do so? The ramifications of answering this question will have a profoundly positive impact on your hiring practices. More importantly, do you know which of the two it is?

If people are UNABLE to apply for open positions at your organization that falls into one of two categories. First: The person is not aware of your organization. They have never heard of it, have never interacted with it and unless something changes will never interact with it. People cannot apply for as position at a company that they don’t know exists. As hard as it is to believe about 70% of people eligible to apply for your positions fall into this category.

The second possibility is that people are not applying because they have some FALSE preconceived notion about working for you. It may be that they have made or heard negative things about your industry. Maybe their information is inaccurate or completely out of date. It doesn’t matter. Unless you actively change these misconceptions about your organization in the community people will cling to them and not apply in droves. About 20% of job seekers fall into this category.

If people are UNWILLING that is quite another matter. This would mean that the person knows about your organization, has accurate information about working for you and has made a VALUE driven decision not to apply for your position. While this happens, through my work with thousands of job seekers I can tell you that only about 10% of job seekers fall into this category.

How can you find out which is true for your organization? Simple. Just ask your current employees what made them aware of your organization for the first time. Did they drive past you? See a sign? See a job ad? Get referred from a friend?

And about that false preconceived notion about your company or your industry….and them about that as well. Did they have a wrong idea about your organization before they came to work for you?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you decide what steps to take to change the number and fit of the people applying for your positions. All of these answers lie with your current employees. Time to ask them for some guidance.

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