My parents live elsewhere now, but the often return to the ancestrial homeland (Puyallup, WA.--don't try to pronounce). It is easy to get caught up in a conversation about Billy, you know your younger brothers friend who used to live across the street, and what he is doing now. Usually it is focused on the normal stuff like how many kids he has, or where he is living etc. Normally I pay about half attention to this stuff and move on. However, here is a recent phone conversation I had with my mother:
Mom: So do you remember Billy?
Me: Kinda (Staring at the computer screen)
Mom: He is expecting his third kid.
Me: Sweet...good for him (spacing out on facebook).
Mom: He works for a sawmill in Colorado. Summary of what I hear: He is specializing in this ultra niche craft that you have been banging your head against a wall to fill. His organization is in trouble and he is really looking for something different. He would also like to be closer to family in the Northwest.
Me (yelling): What's his NUMBER!!! GIVE ME HIS NUMBER!!
Mom: Oh?! I don't think I have his number. Ummm, I suppose I could give Julie (Billy's mom) a call and get an e-mail or something.
Me: That would be awesome, thanks mom. You are the best mom in the whole world.
Never mind that I had not spoken to this guy since he was in Jr High. He was about to become my new best friend.
I think more than anything the above...very sad yet telling scenario, shows how hard it is to find people wanting to take a risk in this economy. Organizations who aren't willing to pay 90th percentile or above are having a hard time filling key roles within their organization. People are stuck in their homes. Mediocre seems ok right now until the economy gets going. I have been extremely underwhelmed by the responses I have gotten to my openings. This is even with the assistance of various recruiter types.
In the end (with all due respect to recruiters out there), nothing beats having the HR manager or Operations guy call up someone out of the blue and sell a passive candidate on a opportunity. It is unfiltered and it starts or restarts a relationship that will prove very valuable during the selection process.