with a talk entitled “Stop Name Calling,” he wasn’t trying to mediate an argument or admonish anyone.

He was instead challenging the audience of 190 recruiters and HR types to avoid labeling a candidate that can cost you a great hire.

“Labels set tones,” said Gildow, in the Pillsbury Auditorium on the corporate campus of General Mills. “We have mental perceptions from different words and labels. When we get impersonal with our language it makes us easy to ‘bucket’ job candidates and distance ourselves from them as people.”

You might surmise that he’s not really talking about a whole universe full of labels, but rather a pair in particular; as in active and passive.

And Gildow contends there are some stereotypes associated with those two types of job candidates.

Passive = currently employed, not looking, satisfied with their career, assumed level of high performance.

Active = currently unemployed (probably for a reason we might believe), lesser quality, lower performing, malcontent.

What does Gildow have to say in summary about aggregating people that way?

“Active does not mean unemployed. Unemployed does not mean lesser quality. Direct interest does not mean lower quality. If the leading indicator for a top performer is zero gaps in employment history, then none of us would ever make a bad hire.”

There were certainly plenty of people in the auditorium looking to make a hire. Or two. Or 50.

When Gildow asked if there was anyone who had 60 field reqs open – or more even – about 10 or so people raised their hands.

Representing a company that has 138 million resumes in their database, he calls “labor trends the ultimate label maker.”

He also feels that everyone’s jobs will get harder as the labor market firms up, though there is still a big question around if and when.

To at least partially prove his point though, Gildow cited a recent study that finds 71% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 will look for a new job once they feel the economy is on a little firmer ground.

Gildow has some tips for staffing staffers, recruiters and HR folks that he says will help you do your job better.

  • Work hard to create and maintain a positive candidate experience with each and every candidate
  • Employ a qualitative screening process if you’re not already
  • Create job ads and descriptions that offer a clear and compelling message
  • Use all the technology tools you have available
  • Invest a lot of time in the active candidate
  • Get rid of the labels

“When we restrict our recruiting efforts to those with jobs because we perceive them to be of higher quality, that’s like saying I only want to date people who are married. The strategy doesn’t make sense, and it becomes a roadblock to filling our requisitions with quality people.”

Tags: Advice, Monster, Hiring Practices, Minnesota Recruiters Conference, Active, Conferences, Nathan Gildow, Passive