A Recruiting Book in the Middle of a Pandemic? This One Shows You Can be Both Lucky AND Good

John Hollon COVID-19, Managing People, Recruiting, Talent Acquisition

Ever hear the old expression, “It’s better to be lucky than good?

It basically says that if you could choose, being lucky is always better than just being good.

But Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess grandmaster who is generally considered to be the greatest chess player of all time, thinks the notion that luck is preferable to skill is out-and-out stupid.

“The phrase “it’s better to be lucky than good” must be one of the most ridiculous homilies ever uttered,” Kasparov says. “In nearly any competitive endeavor, you have to be damned good before luck can be of any use to you at all.”

Kasparov has a good point. Maybe the phrase should be “better to be lucky AND good.” That would make more sense, and it would also describe Eric Chester and his new book, Fully Staffed: The Definitive Guide to Finding & Keeping Great Employees in the Worst Labor Market Ever.

Is this the worst labor market ever?

Eric is a speaker, author, and blogger who focuses on “recruiting, training, managing, motivating, and retaining the emerging workforce.” His book bio adds that “as an in-the-trenches workplace researcher and renowned employee engagement expert, Chester knows what it takes to attract today’s enigmatic talent and get them to perform at their best.”

But here’s the thing … Chester’s new book on finding and keeping great employees in a tight labor market arrived in my mailbox a couple of months ago. Eric asked me to take a look at it, and I did. It’s pretty good, and it uncovers “the best practices for attracting, developing — and yes, even retraining — amazing employees at all levels, often for jobs that aren’t considered sexy by today’s standards”

However, he had the misfortune of being published on April 20 — on the heels of 26 million Americans losing their jobs in just 5 weeks due to the coronavirus.

Bad timing, no?

Well, maybe … or maybe not.

As a recent note from Eric Chester pointed out:

“The irony of the subtitle of my new book FULLY STAFFED: The Definitive Guide to Finding and Keeping Great Employees in the Worst Labor Market Ever is obvious. After all, if the COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions to file for unemployment, could this STILL be considered ‘the worst labor market ever?’

The answer is a resounding, YES! But that’s now true for a completely different reason than it was when I was writing and researching this book … with unemployment in the U.S. below 4% and employers everywhere screaming for workers.”

Sound crazy? I thought so too, at first, but then dug a little into what Mr. Chester was really saying.

3 strategies to give your recruiting an edge

It’s this: When the lockdown ends and the economy opens up again, employers are going to be overwhelmed with job applicants, and, “the race will be on to … find and hire the ‘right fits’ before they’re reeled in by the competition.”

“It won’t be the big companies who beat out the small in the hiring Olympics,” Chester says, “but rather, the employers who are prepared to recruit, screen, interview, hire, and train quickly that are going to crush those that are unprepared or slower on the trigger.”

In other words, there will be a lot more applicants to choose from, but the companies that win in this new post-coronavirus world will be those who can “staff-up fast and staff-up right!”

OK, that sounds good as far as it goes, but how do you change your recruiting & hiring to do that?

As you might imagine, Eric Chester has some ideas on that, his three strategies to give your TA operation an edge.

  1. Do everything possible to hang on to your people, especially those you consider your “top performers.” “Do whatever you can to help your people navigate these turbulent seas, even if it means making calls to employers who need people and moving your people to the very top of the applicant pile for temporary employment. If your people are having trouble filing for unemployment, do what you can to help them navigate the process.”
  2. If you must furlough people, do this on a one-to-one basis, not via mass email or text.Keep the lines of communication wide open and let your workers know you value them, feel for them, and want them back as soon as circumstances allow. This critically important messaging should NOT be delivered through a mass email or group text … (it) will be much more effective if communicated via one-on-one calls from a direct supervisor or department manager, and each call should begin with a sincere “How are you doing?” … You can’t fake genuine concern and compassion, and your workers are going to know whether you actually care about them or are simply going over your to-do roster and checking boxes.”
  3. Examine, refine, and recalibrate your hiring process. “There’s never been a better opportunity to get really good at recruiting and onboarding new people. I’ve included dozens and dozens of best practice examples from clever employers in my new book.”

A TA book that’s worth a good look

Here’s my take: I know Eric Chester the way I know a lot of writers and speakers. We have a professional relationship. I’ve published a number of his blog posts, read his his books, and followed his speaking engagements.

Lots of people have books and advice on recruiting and hiring, but I’ve always admired Eric for his interesting and unique approach. Plus, I admire what he’s doing here.

This is probably the worst-case scenario for an author; he has a book on recruiting & hiring coming out in a completely different environment than it was originally planned for. Given the long lead time needed for book publishing, that’s just not something you can possibly anticipate.

But if you’re a recruiter, a hiring manager, or a TA professional, it’s worth a good look.

Not only does Eric have a smooth and engaging writing style, but he knows an awful lot on what it takes to succeed in the talent wars. A lot of what he says cuts across the grain of traditional (and stale) TA thinking. Plus, he believes that even the greatest recruiting practices won’t help much if your workplace culture stinks.

He also says this, and it’s work remembering:

“Remember — The way you’re treating your current employees through this pandemic is being recorded for future playback by all the candidates you want to recruit when this crisis is over!

(And) don’t wait for the pandemic to end to focus your attention on staffing. Plan ahead; it wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark!”

Fully Staffed: The Definitive Guide to Finding & Keeping Great Employees in the Worst Labor Market Ever, is a great addition to your talent management bookshelf. I’m betting that you’ll find that what Eric Chester has to say shows that yes, it’s always better to be lucky AND good.

You should go and do likewise.