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Talent Talk: Colonial Pipeline and the Potential Cost of an Unfilled Job

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Colonial Pipeline had been looking for a cyber security manager for more than two months prior to the cyberattack. The job is still posted on its website.

When Colonial Pipeline was forced to shut down following a cyberattack last week, it directly impacted 50 million Americans on the East Coast and in the South who rely on its gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel products.

The ripple effects of this were felt, as demand jumped 20 to 40% in some states, worsened by “panic buying,” and retail prices soared. Assuming there are no further complications with the pipeline coming back to full production, the price tag for this is estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.

That is all terrible, but not news, so why are we talking about it in a jobs blog? Because Colonial Pipeline had been looking for a cyber security manager for more than two months prior to the cyberattack. The job is still posted on its website and several other third-party hiring sites.

We are all rooting for the company to recover quickly from this, and I do not want to kick someone when they are down. The cyberattack was not its fault and presumably not foreseeable. But it is time that we open our eyes and acknowledge that we are entering a very new reality in many aspects. One of those is a critical talent shortage in the United States.

Corporate America cannot wait for the government to solve this, because that is not going to happen. We must recognize that there is a cost associated with unfilled positions, and with hiring the wrong person. The true cost of this is often mind-blowing.

We need new approaches to keep up with the new reality. Talent acquisition teams are still using the same processes developed after WWII, from job postings to lengthy interview processes. And we are still in denial about the true cost of a bad hire (or no hire). We discussed this almost a year ago: "You Will Not Believe How Expensive a Bad Hire Can Be." Unfortunately, now we can add more anecdotal evidence to that story.


About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

TAGS: Business
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