Is warm body syndrome hurting your business?

Matt Tarpey

As an employer, there are a lot of factors you need to balance every time you make a hiring decision. But when speed to hire is your number one priority, sometimes the only thing that seems to matter is getting a warm body to fill an opening. Unfortunately, that method of hiring – sometimes called Warm Body Syndrome – is unsustainable and can be harmful to your company in the long run.

As you create new openings, take note of the key steps below – and how to skip over the next warm body you meet – to hire the right candidate.

How it happens

Whenever there’s an open position, the goal is to find the best person to fill it. But the quality of candidates isn’t the only factor impacting the way we hire; time often plays a major role too.

48% of employers say they’ve seen a negative impact on their business due to extended job vacancies, including productivity loss, lower morale, revenue loss and more employee turnover. Once that pressure is on, how long are you willing to wait for the perfect candidate to come along? The longer a position is open, the more your perception of candidates can alter. Standards also begin to fall, both in terms of desired skills and cultural fit. Instead of focusing on the candidate for the future, you begin settling for the candidate of the moment.

Another way to end up with warm bodies in the office is from inaccurate job postings. If you’re not taking the time to make sure your job posting is accurately portraying the required skills, as well as the overall values needed, then your candidate pool will be infested with warm bodies.

The good news? There are effective ways to keep warm bodies from invading your office.

Focus on potential

As entrepreneur Darlene Gagnon says, “Resumes don’t mean anything besides telling me if they’re a [job] hopper.” When you’re looking at candidates in a rough hiring landscape, it’s essential to read between the lines and look for potential rather than experience.

Investing in a candidate that shows potential, but lacks some of skills that are needed may seem like a desperate Hail Mary option, but many experts suggest it may actually be a better option for your business. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 63% of employers say they’ve done so in the past and more than 50% have plans to do so in the future. So, ask questions that get to the core of your candidates. That will show if they continually educate themselves and how they plan to succeed in the future.

Recruit for your future needs

Many employers only think about hiring when a new need arises. At first glance, that seems perfectly logical. However, a reactive approach can lead to longer vacancies and more pressure to hire the next warm body. By proactively recruiting year-round, you’re less likely to be caught unprepared by unexpected departures. More than half (55%) of companies that have shifted toward a less traditional hiring cycle have seen shorter hire times. Plus, transitioning to year-round hiring opens you up to a more diverse talent pool than hiring sporadically.

Keeping Warm Body Syndrome from entering your hiring process is difficult, but worth it in the long run. A complacent, good-enough hire ends up being a financial burden and a waste of everyone’s time. Just be certain you’re asking the right questions and not feeling pressured to make just any hire. Finding the perfect fit may take some time.


Ready to get a jump on your hiring needs by building a talent pipeline? Learn more about CareerBuilder Talent Network.

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