How to Hire in a Tight Labor Market

Mary Lorenz

For the first time in nearly half a decade, the unemployment rate is 3.7 percent. While the low unemployment rate indicates good news in terms of the economy, it represents a frustrating challenge for many employers: Fewer people actively looking for work means fewer people available to fill companies’ growing needs. In fact, 60 percent of employers say it’s taking them longer to fill positions today than in the last year, according to Silkroad and CareerBuilder study, and they believe the tough hiring environment is to blame.

More competition for workerse also means that job seekers are now in the driver's seat, and it's forcing many 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.

Up the Ante

You may not want to hear it, but the simple truth is, if you want good candidates, you should expect to pay for them. Offering higher salaries is the route many employers (including your competitors) are taking to attract and retain high performers in this new environment, according to CareerBuilder’s Midyear Job Forecast. Many employers are sweetening the deal with competitive benefits, too. Extra paid time off, free lunches, flexible work schedules, casual dress codes, signing bonuses - these are just a few of the perks companies are highlighting to attract more applicants. If you can’t afford to pay the industry going rate or offer a competitive benefits package, you may have to explore other options (see below).

Separate Your Wants from Your Needs

Does this positions 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? 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. Consider the role for which you’re hiring, and then look at your requirements. Are these truly “must-have” qualifications, or is there wiggle room? Does a candidate need every single one of these skills coming into the job, or can you train them once hired? If you can cut back on some of your job requirements (and are willing to train on the job), you will significantly widen your pool of potential applicants.

Think Outside the ZIP Code

No qualified candidates nearby? Expand your search parameters and either offer to pay for relocation expenses or do what more and more companies are doing, and hire workers who can work remotely. With a remote workforce, you can recruit talent from anywhere in the world, while saving your company the costs of office space, turnover and absenteeism, among other benefits.  

Give These Candidates a Second (or First) Look

How often do you reach out to previous candidates when a new position opens up? Do you even maintain a talent pipeline to keep track of past applicants? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity to significantly cut down on 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. These candidates have already expressed interest in your company, and though they may not have been right for a particular role, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make excellent fits 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.”

Don’t discount mature workers or retirees, either, as they bring a wealth of knowledge and a hard 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.

Invest in Smarter Technology

As the need for better candidates increases, so does the demand for smarter, more sophisticated HR technology tools. Solutions like Talent Discovery are meeting that demand. Talent Discovery employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to help recruiters source candidates and fill positions faster. It also streamlines the entire hiring process by combining multiple sourcing solutions into one system that integrates with users’ existing applicant tracking software.

Focus on the Candidate Experience

Want to stand out from your competitors and show candidates you’re an employer of choice? Treat them exceptionally. According to the Silkroad and CareerBuilder study, the majority of employees (68 percent) believe the way a company treats its job candidates is a reflection of how it treats its employees; therefore, candidates today have (justifiably) high expectations for how they should be treated during the hiring process. This means not only keeping the lines of communication open – 82 percent of employees expect employers to provide a clear timeline for the hiring process and keep them updated throughout the process when they apply for a job – but also making it easy to apply to jobs. Twenty percent of candidates won’t spend more than 10 minutes on a job application. Remember, too, that more and more candidates are searching for jobs via mobile devices (70 percent of CareerBuilder’s visitors, in fact), and 43 percent have applied for jobs from their smartphones or tablets; therefore, it is crucial that your application process is optimized for mobile devices.

Here’s What Candidates Want in Today’s Job Market

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