The Fork in the Road to Recruiting
by Patrick Murphy

The field of loss prevention has been changing slowly over the past several years towards a more business oriented approach. This change has caused a definite rethinking of the type of candidates companies want to see. The bar has now been raised to seek professionals who are more skilled in business acumen to adopt a more global approach to shrink reduction. This having been said, the world of recruiting, interviewing and hiring has experienced rapid change that has created somewhat of a quagmire for candidates looking for that "ideal" job.

The days of the meticulously typed and worded resume have long given way to mass resume mailing companies like ResumeZapper and ResumeRabbit. For a fee, these firms advertise that they can get your resume into the hands of literally thousands of recruiters across the US. There may be absolutely no positions available on the other end but your information will be placed in a dormant database. This passive approach has an art of its own to properly create a resume for electronic storage based on keywords. In many cases your resume is scanned for filing in a database. Your resume is searched for keywords that best describe your qualifications. In other words, that three-page resume outlining some of your most critical and beneficial accomplishments has now been reduced to phrases and words that are indexed with all the others. It is a cold method that misses the nuances of your personality and style but "we" have done this to ourselves by the mass of resumes that are easily communicated across the world.

The ease of use and the frequency of web-based submissions to employers from job boards has created a false sense of probability to obtain that first interview. Some experts say that you only have a 2% chance of being hired from an internet resource. Of the estimated 16 million employers in the US, the major job boards can only give you access to some 6% of all employers and only .06% of available jobs. By specializing the recruiting needs to only Loss Prevention, we can only begin to surmise the impact.

The pool of tenured candidates tends to come from two main sources: those who are currently employed who want greater responsibility and those who are looking for positions due to unemployment from company reorganizations and alike. The compression of these two main groups, who are many times vying for the same job, has caused employers to believe there is a glut of talent on the market. One recruiter referred to it as "an electronic meat market." The perception of this large pool of candidates has been exacerbated by the growing popularity of advertising on internet job boards. Mid level managers looking for the next highest level are constantly submitting their resume via the internet for positions that they may not even qualify "just in case" there is a chance of being considered. And we all know that when a Director or VP of Loss Prevention position is vacated, the industry starts to feel like NFL coaching changes at the end of a bad season. The practice of listing the same job on different web sites and the practice of having the posting refreshed to the top by changing the date has simply caused overload for both sides of the equation.

Senior Management positions are somewhat different but the trend is falling in line with the others. In the past, the only method, short of a direct referral, to have access to senior positions was through a recruiter. Employers now have an opportunity to shop through the internet even though they know they will be receiving an avalanche of resumes. The candidates do however, have an improved chance now of at least getting their credentials reviewed and an independent decision made on the fit to the organization. The recruiter clearly has the responsibility to present the best candidate(s) but that process has its own faults too, again from the sheer volume of people they have to offer. Our industry's recruiters are the gatekeepers to some of the best positions and they have a daunting task of finding the right person. Companies though, are beginning to find the opportunity of saving the substantial commission, a much better option.

The vetting process has changed to accommodate the high number of applicants. A few years ago, phone interviews were very rare but now seem to be standard practice. This creates a difficult environment for the candidate as they are generally being interviewed by someone who is seeking sometimes little more than a recitation of the resume. A skilled interviewer asking behavioral questions can clearly make a sound decision based on that conversation.

The dynamics of the loss prevention industry continue to morph and the candidate you hire today will not be prototypical of someone you hire five years from now. Skill-set needs change and the best and the brightest will be redefined. We have to come to grips though with the nomadic nature of those in the business and work to better centralize recruiting methods. There does not seem to be a preferred method of recruiting on any level, but placing an ad on five different career sites feels like a huge gamble. While the focus of this article is recruiting and candidate selection, it is far more important to look beyond that and determine why the turnover is what it is. The functionality of the various positions demands high levels of training to maintain effectiveness and job satisfaction. Regardless of the preferred recruiting method, Senior LP Management must weigh the cost benefit of the training requirements to maintain their current staff versus attempting to upgrade from a misconceived deep pool of applicants.

Patrick Murphy is a Security Consultant with over 25 years experience in both field and Director positions in Fortune 50 companies. He is also the President of and, two important internet portals for professionals in Loss Prevention and for end users in retail who are seeking new products or information. Contact Patrick by e-mail: .

More on recruiting in The HR Refresher | Also see The CFO Refresher and High Performance Retail in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2002 by Patrick Murphy. All rights reserved.

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