Chris Czarnik presenting a MBU's Leadership Breakfast on Winning the War for Talent

Winning the War for Talent | Leadership Breakfast 10.13.2021

As usual around campus on the day of a Leadership Breakfast, Maranatha’s Dining Complex bustled with people from the community on October 13, 2021. This time around, the attendees gathered not just for inspiring or helpful talks over breakfast, but for the Thrive Economic Development annual meeting.  

David Schroeder, Chairman of ThriveED, welcomed the group to the annual meeting and introduced the agenda. Following the welcome and directions, Vicki Pratt, President of ThriveED, highlighted the five-year milestones. Incorporated in 2016, ThriveED has sought to grow through building steady relationships between Dodge and Jefferson counties. “We do regional economic development because when one company wins, the community wins,” Pratt stated.  

Pratt then introduced the speaker for the day, Chris Czarnik. Czarnik authored Winning the War for Talent: Recruit, Retain, and Develop the Talent Your Business Needs to Survive and Thrive and has given hundreds of presentations on HR management.  

Czarnik passionately began his presentation by stating that he was triggered. His reason for being triggered? Employers complain that people are lazy and don’t want to work.  

“It is not the world’s fault that you do not have employees,” he stated emphatically. Czarnik reminded the attendees that advertising for a job is not the same as it was 40 or even 25 years ago.  

Employees or Customers? 

Czarnik posed the question, “Are you working as hard to find your next employee as you are your next customer? What would you do if your customers didn’t want to buy your product anymore?” He begged the audience to stop trying to make the hiring process hard.  

Businesses compete for customers. Why would it be different when it comes to employees? While many HR Directors consider themselves to be good recruiters, reviewing resumes and screening applications doesn’t make it so. Czarnik shared that 93% of resumes are without response (not rejected!) since 1998.  

“You’ve been ghosting my job seekers for decades!” he berated the audience. “You’re blaming a 22-year-old because they can’t find you in a series of 27,000 different organizations that could hire them within 30 miles of this building.” 

Czarnik acknowledged that each business owner becomes enamored with their business. They live and breathe their business bubble, making it hard for them to comprehend that no one has ever heard of their company. He encouraged them to think back to the customer mentality. They’ve been competing for customers for years. Why should they not expect to compete for employees?  

The Population Math Problem 

If you were to ask someone about generations today, you’d probably hear something about how the Baby Boomers are grandparents, Gen Xers make a ton of “dad jokes”, Millennials part their hair on the side, and Gen Z are the only people to understand their slang. No cap. 

Culture aside, no one talks about generations with population in mind. No one except Czarnik. Czarnik shared that when the economy stabilized after the COVID-19 pandemic, 12 to 13 thousand Baby Boomers are retiring every day. And there are 65.9 million people (Xers, Millennials, Gen Z) trying to fill the jobs left by 75.4 million people (Baby Boomers).  

That’s 9.5 million fewer people between the generations.  

“It is a mathematical certainty that somebody is going to lose,” Czarnik affirmed. He encouraged people to build personas for their employees the same way they build personas for their customers.  

“It’s your job to go to them,” Czarnik told the audience.  

Czarnik shared that he is a Baby Boomer. “We’re the problem,” he stated. “Do you get that?” The Baby Boomers are the largest generation with the most people and the most assets. And where do those assets go? “We’re giving it to our kids, and they don’t have to work,” Czarnik declared with a smirk on his face. 

“Stop with ‘the people are lazy’. Stop with ‘the young people don’t want to work’. Stop thinking what you did in the past is actual recruiting. It’s not.” 

Understand Your Audience 

You can’t find future employees if you don’t know who you’re looking for. Seventy percent of job seekers cannot find your company because there are thousands of companies clamoring for their attention. How can they find you if you’re not building bridges with them?  

Czarnik encouraged those in attendance to consider the cost of having the position open for a year. Business owners know the cost of everything else in their corporation; it shouldn’t be hard to determine that number. 

“Are you investing the same amount of money that it costs to not have that employee to get that employee?” Czarnik asked. He entreated the audience to treat their open jobs like problems, not like the world doesn’t want to work for them. He encouraged them to get to know their current employees so they can hire the right new employees. 

In closing, Czarnik shared four criteria to consider before recruiting:   

  • Working in a geographical radius – People are going to commute a maximum of 24 minutes 
  • Paying a respectful wage – A wage in the 45-60th percentile of the current reigning wage for similar jobs 
  • Creating work that fits their personality type – Will your new employee succeed in this line of work 
  • Constructing job ads that create questions that people can only answer if they interact with your business 

“You are vanilla ice cream in a vanilla ice cream aisle,” Czarnik asserted. “You’re just like everyone else. Good recruiting is creating questions, not answering them.” 

Pratt moderated a closing question and answer time with Czarnik. 

On November 11, Susan Marshall, founder of the Backbone Institute, will be presenting “Leadership: Breaking through Toxicity.” Learn more and register here.