Nearly all HR leaders struggle to find new hires now. How can you possibly recruit great employees when everyone else is hiring, too?
It won’t be easy (we can’t lie!). But it’s possible with calculated, unique approaches to hiring – and retaining – employees in the wake of the pandemic.
Nearly half of all companies can’t fill the open positions they have, according to data from National Federation of Independent Businesses and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And almost 80% of employers find it somewhat or very difficult to find qualified candidates for open positions in every kind of business from professional to industrial, The Conference Board found.
The HR problem stems from rapid re-openings, supply chain issues and the fact that many unemployed people aren’t seriously looking for a job.
“Before the pandemic, industry and manual services workers were high in demand and short in supply. As the economy reopens, this trend is resurfacing – and fast,” says Frank Steemers, Senior Economist at The Conference Board.
Here are six research-proven strategies to find, keep and hire great employees in challenging times.
Rethink your approach
Some employers think the hiring crunch will go away when the government stops pandemic-related unemployment compensation benefits. But Harvard Business researchers found that’s not likely the case.
Here’s why: Unemployment benefits went up 10% during the pandemic. But job applications only dropped 3.6%. Most employers agree that 3.6% more applicants – essentially a return to pre-pandemic norms – will not solve their hiring woes.
That’s why HR leaders want to rethink and revamp their approach to recruiting and hiring. What you did in the past to find new hires won’t likely work now.
Total overhaul? Probably not. But Harvard researchers say it’s critical to examine each step of your processes and practices to spot the biggest potential areas to reach a broader, more qualified candidate pool.
Create unique partnerships
Make it easier for great candidates to work.
Case in point: Research shows women are more loyal and reliable in the workplace. At the same time, they’re also more likely than men to hold the responsibility for child care – so they can’t work. But if you partnered with child care, before- and after-school, and drop-off/pick-up services, you become an even more attractive employer.
Another possibility: Older, retired workers are often interested in going back to work, but aren’t keen on full-time work again. Can you recruit in that community and offer job sharing, part-time work and opportunities for them to socialize outside of work (another perk to older workers)?
Think about the population in your area and their needs. What services can you offer to make coming to work even easier for them?
Focus on geography
Many employers introduced hybrid work models and offered remote work to employees because of the pandemic. That allowed some companies to widen their hiring net, getting talent across time zones and continents for the first time.
That’s OK for some companies and some employees. But many employers need people on-site.
And Harvard researchers found one of the best ways to attract local talent is to be easily accessible to job candidates. In their words: “If you are able to recruit from a county that is 10% closer to you, you will find 44% more people who are already commuting to your location. In other words, obsessing about attracting local talent pays off.”
Practical ideas: Change work schedules to four, 10-hour days so you cut the number of times employees need to commute. Start and end the workday on hours outside the normal work times so employees can expect shorter commutes. Or you might offer a ride service or public transportation credits.
Offer reskilling opportunities
Quality candidates may not apply to your open positions because they don’t think their skills and background align with the job.
Cengage experts suggest you consider removing degree requirements for some job roles and destigmatize certificates, badges and licensing for skilled workers.
Explain early in job descriptions that you want applicants who are willing to learn new skills and increase knowledge.
Then briefly outline the kind of training or reskilling job candidates can anticipate. Ideally, you can offer learning opportunities that allow them some flexibility.
Emphasize long-term success
In a year when it feels like everything was uncertain all the time, nothing sells your job opportunity like stability.
You might need to fix a short-term need – an open position. But you can recruit better if you emphasize long-term success with job candidates.
Talk with recruits on how their skills, hopes and background align with your company’s. Show them how they can grow and advance their careers within your organization. Also show how you and their bosses will provide the resources to do so.
“Candidates, especially entry-level workers, are hungry for continued learning opportunities to flourish in the workforce,” says Jeri Herman, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Cengage. “Offering skilling programs paired with on-the-job training will prove the company is invested in supporting employees’ entire career path, which not only drives talent acquisition, but also retention in the long-term.”
Go back to school
Look beyond the job market, and to schools to find new hires.
“By partnering with high schools, community colleges and technical or vocational programs, businesses unlock the ability to advise institutions on course offerings that equip students with the skills needed to fill open roles and local job demands,” says Herman.
For example, you might offer current employees and recruits mechanical courses at a local community college. Then you can improve your “brand by directly recruiting talent after students graduate,” Herman says.