How to hire in a tight labor market

Right now in the U.S., there are more jobs available than people to fill them. More workers quit in August than at any point in the last 20 years. The competition for workers also means that job seekers are now in the driver's seat, and it's forcing companies to rethink their traditional recruiting methods and apply new tactics. If you're among the many hiring managers or recruiters struggling to fill positions right now, consider the following strategies:

Raise wages

You may not want to hear it, but the simple truth is, if you want good candidates, you should expect to pay for them. According to a recent CareerBuilder study, a third of workers expect more than a 5% increase in pay every year. Offering higher salaries is the route many employers (including your competitors) are taking to attract and retain high performers in this new environment.

If you can’t afford to pay the industry rate, you may have to explore other options. Many employers are also sweetening the deal with competitive benefits. Extra paid time off, free lunches, flexible work schedules, working from home, casual dress codes and signing bonuses are just some of the perks companies offer to attract more applicants.

Separate your wants from your needs

Does this position truly require a four-year college degree, or would on-the-job experience suffice? And is 10 years of experience truly necessary, or would five years be enough given the right mix of experience? If you’re having trouble filling a position – and you can’t afford to offer higher compensation – you may have to re-evaluate your job posting and be more flexible in your language.

Does a candidate need to be certified in a skill, or can you offer on-the-job training? Some workers, such as those who may have worn many hats at a smaller company, have skills not easily shown on paper. Consider hiring for potential over experience. Or look into recruiting services such as RightSkill, an initiative from Capella Learning Solutions and CareerBuilder that prepares workers for in-demand jobs in and matches them with employers. If you can cut back on some of your job requirements (and are willing to upskill employees), you will significantly widen your pool of potential applicants.

Give candidates a second look

How often do you reach out to previous candidates when a new position opens up? Do you maintain a talent pipeline to keep track of past applicants? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity to significantly reduce time to hire. A talent pipeline ensures that, when you have a hiring need, you don’t have to start from scratch, because you already have a pool of interested candidates from which to source. Though they may not have been right for a particular role, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t make an excellent fit for other roles.

While you’re giving these candidates a second look, you may also consider reaching out to former employees. If they left the company on good terms, former employees can be a great talent pool to tap into, as they’re already familiar with the business and can “hit the ground running.”

Promote from within

Sometimes the perfect person has been right before your eyes all along. If you have a role that you just can’t seem to fill, consider tapping your internal employee database, and invest in upskilling them for hard-to-fill positions. The benefits of promoting from within the company can’t be denied. You never know who might be looking for a chance to expand their skill set, explore a different area of the business or try on some new responsibilities.

Search for talent in unexpected places

Don’t discount mature workers or retirees, as they bring a wealth of knowledge and a solid work ethic to the workplace, or workers who seem overqualified, who can contribute in new and different ways. Finally, make a concerted effort to hire military veterans, who bring a wealth of skills and strengths to the workplace. Often forgotten about groups, such as people with disabilities or those formerly incarcerated have many skills and qualities that may not show up on a resume. A job that requires sorting items could be great for autistic individuals, for example. Workers are out there and ready if you’re willing to look for them.

Focus on the candidate experience

Want to stand out from your competitors and show candidates you’re an employer of choice? Treat them exceptionally. The way a company treats its job candidates can indicate how it treats its employees, and candidates have high expectations for how they should be treated during the hiring process. This means making it easy to apply to jobs and keeping the lines of communication open: Nearly 70% of those who have ghosted an employer did so because of poor communication, per our recent survey. Remember, too, that more and more candidates are searching for jobs via mobile devices (70% of CareerBuilder’s visitors), and 45% enjoy applying for jobs from their smartphones or tablets. It's crucial that your application process is optimized for mobile devices and makes it easy for candidates to one-click apply.

It is possible to staff up right now, but employers must be willing to give a little more than they may be used to. With a growing skills gap, a renewed focus on work-life balance and many other labor market factors, hiring for today – and tomorrow – just needs a new lens.

Want more labor market expert advice?

Don’t get ghosted and don’t be the ghoster

Can’t offer remote work? Here’s how to attract the best candidates anyway

4 ways hiring managers can avoid stress


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