Hiring in a Tight Market: How to Engage When Unemployment is Low

By Chris Murdock

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A year-end means everyone is planning. There’s planning new year’s resolutions, solidifying 2019 budgets, mapping out hiring goals, etc. The bigger picture here is an overarching theme of an organization — everyone is setting up their horses at the starting gate for the 2019 race to hire the best people on the market. With your list of tasks distracting you from delivering results in an increasingly tight hiring market, you may be at your end to find quality talent.

Low unemployment means your sourcing, recruiting and engagement efforts need to be strategic. With more passive candidates in the market, hiring will be rough no matter how you slice it. You could settle for less qualified applicants and struggle to get by without hiring anyone at all…or you could follow these four hiring strategies to utilize your employees and recruit more effectively during low unemployment:

Move Existing Employees First

Internal mobility can be your greatest asset when hiring in a tight market. If you have employees who have been with the company for a number of years, they may be ready to move on to something new. This is especially true if they’ve reaped everything their current position has to offer them. Plus, transitioning them to a new role will help them learn new skills and develop their professional career.

A few takeaways to keep in mind here:

  1. Current employees can best train new employees for the position, even if the “new employee” is just an existing employee being transitioned into a new role.
  2. Current employees already know how the organization and company culture operates

But also keep in mind not everyone is magically fit for a new position just because they performed well at their current one. Just like any screening and selection process, give your internal hiring process the same due diligence you would give new-to-the-company hires.

Source Candidates from Different Places

There are a lot of places you can post your job listing or advertise your open position. I bet what instantly comes to mind for you are sites like LinkedIn, Monster.com, Indeed or ZipRecruiter, right? Instead of thinking of places by job board, think of the type of applicants and how they are segmented throughout the hiring market. Although old school, networking by phone and by email gets candidates attention in ways many recruiters don’t use anymore.

Fresh, entry-level talent is pouring out of universities, so college career boards, alumni groups and departmental networks are the best places to reach this demographic. These candidates are starving for work experience and make for eager applicants. While the screening process for these types of applicants may vary, they are a great opportunity to get fresh, moldable hires.

For underemployed talent, there are a lot of graduates still working in places like Starbucks, Scooters, retail stores and other small businesses. Don’t ignore these profiles on LinkedIn just because of their current job. Check their education, when they graduated and what they majored in. You may find talent ready to be utilized in the most unthought-of places.

Are you only posting locally? Expand your job postings to platforms that reach nationally and internationally. The more exposure your job post has, the larger your hiring market is. But think strategically — casting a wide net draws in talent, but they may not be the best fit for your organization. Eliminate extra screening work by using the Diamond Recruiting Process on these types of sourcing strategies.

Are you spending too much time finding a hire and getting behind on your other tasks? Leverage a remote sourcing team. The more people you have working on your tasks, the more time you have to reallocate accordingly.

Finally, referrals are always a good way to find talent. If you aren’t using referral bonuses or a referral rewards program, employees may not be motivated enough to reach out to people they know.

Once you know where these talent pools lie, networking by phone or email are still some of the most effective ways to connect with these candidates. Nonetheless, there are many other ways to get in touch with these people including through acquaintances and mutual friends, meeting them at events and more!

Write a Good Ad and Loosen Up Credentials

Take a second look at your ads and everywhere they are posted. Ask yourself these questions:

  • If you were looking for a job, would you apply based on that ad?
  • When unemployment is low and people have many other job postings to choose from, does yours stand out?

Write an attractive ad copy and turn it into something people would actually want to apply for. This is especially true for ads with credentials that no one has. When HR teams post ads with high credentials, these requirements could come from other departments covering an ideal skill set most people don’t have. Keep your ad copy simple and concise — job posting criteria like this are too complex:

  • 12–15 years experience with React Native, Python, C#, C++
  • 7–10 years experience with NodeJS, Vue.js, Elixr, Rust
  • 8–11 years experience working with SEO using Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Must be an active “Advanced Certified ScrumMaster”
  • PhD. in physics required
  • 12 other impossible criteria

It’s best to shoot for some of the requirements you’re looking for — not all. An “all or nothing” approach is unrealistic in a low unemployment job market. Keeping your requirements lax will help bubble your pools back up with more interesting talent. If you change your ad from 5–7 years of experience to 3–5, you don’t have to hire people with that experience. However, you may find someone with other skills needed for the position or skills you didn’t consider would be useful. Improve the candidate experience and invite them to apply instead of putting up barriers preventing them from doing so.

Compensation, Perks, Engagement and Culture

If your company is increasing the compensation to fill a position prior to any interviews, there are many more effective ways to attract quality talent without touching the salary. The salary should fit the range of the position and its duties. Therefore, you should show off other things applicants find attractive.

Flex your benefits like health insurance, dental/vision, 401(K)/retirement, etc. However, if you aren’t listing perks your company culture holds, you should. Company culture can be a huge asset for drawing in candidates. Perks like social work events, a beer fridge, birthday events, growth and volunteer opportunities will help make your job post more attractive and increase the number of applicants you receive.

Nothing attracts employees more than an engaging work culture, but candidates want testimonials of what it’s like to work with your company. Use that. Show off your current employees on your website or redirect links to videos showing what it is like to work there. Since employee engagement increases the rate of employee retention, this can help employees commit to your company for the long-run. Make sure your culture is attractive for applicants to see and apply to.

Your job position should stand out. If it’s not for the position and salary, it’s for the company and culture.

This article was originally published on the IQTalent Partners Blog.

About Chris Murdock:

Chris Murdock is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of IQTalent Partners. Chris has over 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships along with supporting searches across the firm. Prior to Founding IQTalent Partners, Chris was a sourcer with Yahoo!’s internal Executive Recruiting team in the corporate offices in Sunnyvale, California. 

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