Labor Shortage 4

John Sumser's Recruiting Roadshow

Colin Kingsbury is one of my favorite thinkers in the industry. Willing to invest his considerable intellectual resources into the industry’s ongoing conversation, Colin keeps the edge of the discussion razor sharp. Recently, he vented his inner Doberman:

This line of thought was provoked by John Sumser’s Labor Shortage 3 article, which casually lobs this assertion over the wall as if the author was stating a law of physics:

“As mentioned in yesterday’s article, there will be 60 Million new workers in the USA over the next 20 years. That’s a 20% growth in the labor supply. Unfortunately, we need about 70% growth just to stay out of recession.”


The relationship between population and economic growth is murkier and filled with more wild-eyed speculation than the waters of Loch Ness. Add the words “My gut tells me” after “unfortunately” in the paragraph above and you get something a lot closer to objective reality. [RecruitingBloggers]

As everyone knows, being the COO of a small Applicant Tracking Systems company makes you a de facto economist. Kingsbury goes on to cite an endless procession of economies that may or my not prove the correlation between population growth and economic growth. Maybe he’s the next Milton Friedman.

I don’t know exactly what the correlation between population growth and economic growth is.  I do know that we have had relatively uninterrupted growth in both the population and the economy. If we keep our punitive immigration policies in place, the standstill will come sooner. While the depth and meaning of the labor shortage is hard to pin down, its existence is not. What I do know is that population growth is slowing and headed for a standstill. I do know it will have a large economic impact.

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  1. Whoa! This gets now even more interesting.

    Kingsbury is correct. Population and Economy and their correlation is very murky.

    1. John Naisbitt and Patricia Aberdene , Futurists in the 1990’s predicted their would be pockets of economic health and pockets of decline and the former tools of sensemaking for all this would not work, e.g. perhaps Milton Friedman.

    2. WorkEcology, partner — Hazel Henderson in authoring the the Calvert Henderson Lifestyle Indicators as an economist and expert in Ethical Markets, demonstrated that the basis for how we measure economy did not factor in the emerging sustainable lifestyle indicators that led business to debate government while ngo’s protested on who was responsible for health, retirement and what we have in the past called ‘welfare’. Is it the State? a la Scandanavia or Is it “Survival of the Fittest”, a la George Bush and the US social darwinist principle?

    Hazel Henderson is now consulting to the European Parliament on how to measure economy, since the concept of GNP or GDP no longer works. While combining the States of the European Union resulted in measuring a GNP that showed great economic stability than the US, factors of how poverty and unemployment are viewed in the UE and EU have completely grown out of date.

    3. If you now factor in the emergence of the BoP, Botton of the Pyramid, which are the 98% peoples who live outside the realm of wealth and geography where “the jobs” exist and live in state of poverty and pollution in Western Countries, Latin America, the Middle East, India, China and Pacific Rim where technological & fuel economies have emerged parallel to our old view of their world poverty in nations that are not developed.

    Economic success always carried with it ties to the “traditional job”, a paycheck, benefits and state based social security system. Chile was the first country to privatize social security and prove a rate of return that could privately fund transitions due to medical crisis, career transitions and support of family when the breadwinner was not a able to be the principle source of financial support.

    New emerging markets (as reported by are now forming new forms of economy that is redefining sustainable measures for its citizens across all sectors (commercial. non-government organizations and government).

    In the US and in the traditional recruitment world we have limited our view of economy and revenue models based on the characteristics and market demand of different professions, e.g. consultants (per diem), employees in the service sector (formerly the low wage earners), sales (commission based), business development methods (often at risk/commission based) and then lashed on to the software/ASP methodology of click thru advertising and use of ASP per minute confused with the more scientific credentialed forms of earning (high wages to cover cost of higher educationschool loans and value of knowledge).

    All of this has become a mechanical infrastructure, which also is the a part of the sum total of what we call GNP. In response to this recruitment became a digitalized turn style methodology relying on data base management techniques (meausured by the total number of resumes in hand to fulfill X number of positions).

    So just like Kingsbury stated “the relationship of population to economy is murky” is just as murky as the relationship of talent to jobs.

    In my opinion if you deeply research how many people on are actually self-employed and not counted in the formula of jobs, unemployment and employee satisfaction— you will see both the emergence of a new method of economy and identify sources of well paid talent for which there is no quality infrastructure for recruitment and staff within micro economies (an enterprise, non profit or government agency). I would further wager that this talent pool work within in sustainable economies not now served by traditional formats for outsourcing and contracting.

    I would be interested to hear first hand, how recruiters feel they need to self-organize in response to this and where they fit with building a new infrastructure based on the principles of core groups and social networks (the basis for the course I authored called the Foundations of Portfolio Work). For more on this course, go to There are some models in the EU based on trade associations that hint a possible future? The question will is, can recruiters write and author their own future or will they perpetuate the old model and let it simply die in old pockets of economy, while new economies emerge with new employment models and indicators.

    WorkEcology’s new mission is to define those indicators as an investment exercise in redefining the value of human capital. I invite members of the Road Show to link with this mission and author the future of the new workforce model.

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