The Recruiting Solution When People Quit Quitting

The Recruiting Solution When People Quit Quitting

In my recent conversations with human resources professionals, I’ve heard concern about the data in the monthly JOLTS Report—the summary of job openings and labor turnover produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest report noted that the number of people quitting their jobs dropped slightly to 3.5 million. These decreases happened most notably in professional and business services and in educational services. 

The same report shows that the number of job openings in November was 8.8 million, a decrease from the high of 12 million in March 2022.

It’s the gap between the number of job openings and the number of people quitting that’s causing concern for these HR professionals. Yes, the number of available jobs may have diminished from that peak of two years ago, but there are, quite simply, a lot of opportunities going unfilled. 

The number of people quitting is used as a measure of worker confidence in the ability to leave one job for another. It can also be used as a measure of general satisfaction with a role or an employer, or some other factor. While we don’t know precisely why, the numbers make clear that more people are choosing to stay in their current roles with their current employers rather than actively pursuing a new opportunity.

One possibility? According to the Wall Street Journal, “finding a new job is getting harder.” It does seem that some of the frantic post-pandemic alarm about worker shortages has cooled, meaning that we’re no longer seeing the “We’re hiring!” message on the doors of nearly every shop and restaurant and the landing page of so many websites. This may be a sign that the gap between supply and demand in the job market will continue to narrow, and as a result, top talent will be less likely to actively seek out new opportunities.

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to analyze the jobs numbers to identify why fewer people are quitting, but my view is that the “why” matters far less than how HR professionals can respond strategically. It’s becoming increasingly challenging to uncover top talent, and yet I’m surprised by the number of companies that have been slow to change their approach to recruitment.

Colleen Neese, Duffy Group’s practice leader, has a clear message for HR leaders: “Employers can’t do things the same old way and expect to find candidates who have the skills and are a cultural fit for their organizations.”

Fortunately, there is a better alternative to the “post-and-pray” method of promoting open positions on job boards and hoping to find a perfect match. When fewer people are quitting, you need a strategic approach that targets “passive” candidates—the skilled individuals who are currently employed and not actively looking to make a career change. Remember, just because someone isn’t scrolling through job openings doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in considering a new opportunity. 

This is the heart of recruitment research: the active uncovering of the right people for that role in your organization and then selling them on the opportunity. It’s not enough to simply cold-call a potential candidate and describe the role. You want to promote the position, empowering candidates with a deeper understanding of the company and its culture, creating not just interest, but enthusiasm.

That’s the message I share in my conversations with HR professionals. Focus on the people, not the numbers. Identify who your top candidates are, reach out and connect with them, promote the role and the company. 

After all, not quitting doesn’t mean not interested.