Recruiting Tips For Today’s Tough Job Market


The headline of an October 16, 2018 Fox Business story declared, “Job openings hit record 7 million, plenty for the 6 million unemployed.” This is both true and slightly misleading. Job openings have increased to 7.1 million and unemployment has decreased to 3.7 percent or six million people. However, this does not take into account that certain factors, such as geography, or that different jobs require different skills, can seriously impact the availability of talent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, recent rates of employee hires and departures are almost equal at 5.8 million and 5.7 million respectively, leaving fewer unemployed workers actively looking for new jobs. Any company trying to hire that “perfect person” for their open position knows this—finding the right person, with the right skills, at the right salary, in the right time frame is becoming harder and harder to do.

While experts are unsure of the implications of a long-term low unemployment rate, employers are already experiencing the impact—it is harder to find and hire good candidates, and to retain current employees. The days of posting a job and hoping that your ideal employee applies are over for the foreseeable future. Since most people aren’t actively looking for new jobs, you’re going to have to go find them. But, how?

  • Use active sourcing (“headhunting”) tools on job boards and LinkedIn, which have resume databases; these can be costly, but you may find someone who isn’t actively looking.
  • Post to industry-specific job boards. Visit www.ppai.org/industry-job-board for details. Check this link for resumes of those seeking employment, www.ppai.org/industry-professional-resumes. Career Hub is a new job seeker resource from PPAI member PromoPlacement. See more at promoplacement.com/career-hub.

  • Post to job boards that focus on groups that are often underrepresented in the workplace, such as veterans or the disabled – www.dol.gov/veterans/hireaveteran and www.dol.gov/odep are two sources dedicated to these specific groups of people where you may find someone not using traditional methods.

  • List positions to statewide job boards focused on currently unemployed workers.

  • Offer meaningful referral bonuses to your current employees to entice them to refer people they know (your best employees can refer other good employees).

  • Be creative and keep your eyes open—you may interact with a potential employee while you are out shopping or at dinner who may meet the needs of your company; talk to them about your company and see where that could lead.

  • Revisit former applicants and candidates who were not hired; check-in with candidates who took another position to see if they are interested in talking again.

  • Use social media to let personal and professional contacts know you are hiring; they may know someone who is looking. You can also use a local social media page dedicated to connecting people.

  • Consider using a recruiting expert who can source, screen, interview, negotiate and make offers to qualified candidates—you can focus on the other demands of your business while the recruiters move the process forward and ensure candidates receive constant communication.

  • Leverage the workforce you already have to get the production you need from a new hire—convert current part-time employees to full time and/or cross-train current employees to meet your needs (and compensate them accordingly so they don’t leave).

Once you find the applicants, what should you do (and not do) to make the hiring process easier and more productive?

Do respect the candidate’s time, needs and goals. Call applicants within 24 hours and keep the process moving. Realize that each candidate has their own reasons for seeking a new job and their own timeframe in which they want or need that job. While some candidates can wait, most will accept the first good offer they receive. 

Don’t make your hiring process long and drawn out. Having a lengthy process of reviewing applications, prescreening applicants, interviewing candidates, conducting background screens and/or skills tests, or allowing long gaps throughout the process can make candidates think you are not interested and may cause them to seek employment elsewhere.

Do devote the proper resources to finding good candidates. When you are ready to start your candidate search, make sure your application is up-to-date, your recruiter is dedicated to the process from start to finish, and all decision makers are available for interviews and final choices.

Don’t engage in the recruiting process until you’re serious about dedicating the time. It takes a lot of time to sort through applications, vet the candidates, conduct proper screenings and make the decisions about who is best for your organization. If all of this is not done in a timely manner, you could lose the right person and may have to extend your search time or settle for second best.

Do sell yourself and your company to prospects. Just like you sell your products or services to customers, you need to demonstrate to a candidate why he or she should choose your company over other offers that may be on the table. Be sure to communicate your company’s best features such as your culture, perks, awards, etc.

Don’t lowball pay or benefit offerings. Given the current job market, candidates will likely receive multiple job offers to consider during their search. While you do not need to be the highest in your industry or area, not offering a competitive compensation package will give recruits, especially good ones, a strong reason to eliminate your company from consideration. 

If you’ve attempted to hire talent recently, you know it’s a tough labor market out there. Now is the time to be creative about how to market yourself, how to find talent and how to adequately compensate your next best hire.

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Q&A With Paige McAllister

Q We just hired a new inside sales rep with very little experience. It was a hard, long search, and we had to pay him $12,000 more than our other sales rep who has been with us for three years and is a great employee. Should we increase her pay in case she would discover the pay disparity?

A In a word, absolutely. Employees talk about pay, and she will certainly learn of the disparity. It’s best to keep it all equitable, otherwise you risk losing a valued employee and will end up paying her replacement $12,000 more anyway. Welcome to the true impact of the tight labor market.

Q In the northern states, this is the time when we get snowstorms. We have a new office network which enables access to the network remotely. Some of our customer service representatives live far away. There’s nothing about it in our handbook, but can we let them work from home on an ad-hoc basis?

A Sure! Flexible work arrangements are increasingly prevalent and can help minimize the office disruption that can occur with inclement weather. A couple of things to keep in mind, though: first, always require approval for ad-hoc work changes. You will need to decide if this new flexibility is a right or a benefit. If the latter, it should require approval and be well-managed. Second, hourly, non-exempt employees (which is how most customer service representatives should be classified) will need to be paid for all time worked—even after hours. Be sure to arrange in advance how you will track each CSR’s hours when working from home. Finally, you should take the time now to establish what your work-from-home policy is so that you are not inconsistent in your approach or management going forward. 

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Paige McAllister is a contributor for Affinity HR Group, Inc., PPAI’s affiliated human resources partner. Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations such as PPAI and their member companies. www.affinityHRgroup.com.

Send your human resources-related questions to 
ppb@ppai.org. Select questions will be answered in future issues.

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