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What Caught My Eye: Desperate Criminals Show Recruiters What Not to Do

A series of weekly outside-the-box news stories and the lessons they hold for recruiters, by TAtech CEO Peter Weddle. A special feature of the TAtech Professional Member program, free for HR/TA leaders and professionals.

Florida sheriff: Burglars call 911 to get help moving stuff | AP News

According to a recent news report, even criminals are suffering from a lack of talent. It seems that two burglars broke into a home in Poinciana, Florida and found plenty of loot to carry off. Apparently, they hadn’t done much prior planning, however, so they needed help both lugging the stuff out the door and then getting a lift to the airport to make their getaway.

That’s when they were waylaid by the talent shortage. They didn’t have a crew to work with them, and they realized that it would be difficult to hire contract felons on-the-spot – reference checking for such roles being such a time-consuming task. So, one of the pair came up with she thought was a brilliant solution. She called 911 to get help. It wasn’t your normal getaway support, to be sure, but after all, that’s what the police are supposed to do, right … protect and serve?

So, the cops arrived, and she shamelessly made her request. Would they help her and her partner lug what she called “their belongings” out of the house and also give them a ride to the airport so they could hop a flight to New York for a little weekend get-away. Unfortunately (for her), the fill-in talent didn’t perform as she expected. Although, according to the Polk County sheriff’s office, “Deputies DID help them with their belongings and DID give them a ride, but it wasn’t to the airport … it was to the Polk Pokey.”

How Can This Story Be Helpful to Recruiters?

Despite layoffs and a slowing economy, many employers are still finding it incredibly difficult to fill mission-critical openings. And when that happens, the pressure quickly rachets up on recruiters. They hear from hiring managers who scream about their inability to get work done and from c-suite execs who demand to know why recruiting goals aren’t being met. The workload is tough enough, but dealing with the criticism and complaints can make the job feel like torture.

Not surprisingly, such a pressure cooker environment takes its toll on recruiters. In fact, many report that they are now suffering from chronic tension and anxiety. According to research by Jobvite, a heart-stopping 61 percent of recruiters say they are experiencing increased stress at work, with almost one-in-five – 19 percent – saying the increase they are enduring is “dramatic.”

It’s the kind of predicament that can cause even the stoutest of professionals to lose their way. Of course, the challenge recruiters face is totally dissimilar to what confronted those incompetent burglars in Florida, but their response offers recruiters a telling lesson. Desperation can cause people to do dumb things. Or cut corners. It might, for example, lead to pushing forward a candidate who has the skills for a job, but is unlikely to be a good fit with the culture of the work team where the job is located. Or, it might mean overlooking warning signs or potential concerns raised in a candidate’s reference checks.

So, whenever the pressure goes up, as it often does these days, it’s important that recruiters protect themselves. By sticking to best practices. By educating the customer. And by reinforcing their own confidence with the company of other recruiters. In short, fend off the trauma of desperation with the armor of self-respect.

Food for Thought,

If you’ve enjoyed this edition of “What Caught My Eye,” read some of my other posts at the TAtech Blog.

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.