In the News: More Competitive Hiring Market Demands More Proactive Measures by Employers

Bloomberg BNA recently profiled a webinar hosted by Jessica Miller-Merrell, chief blogger at Blogging4Jobs on the challenges of recruiting new talent in a hiring market that is tougher for employers than it was a few years ago. She warned that while hiring isn’t going to necessarily get any easier, there are steps that companies can take to make sure that their help wanted ads aren’t being overlooked.

During the webinar, Miller-Merrell noted that today, there are only 1.7 unemployed people per open job, the lowest since 2007. Add to that, 2014 was the best year for job creation since 1999, with 2.8 million people voluntarily leaving their jobs in September alone. On average, Miller-Merrell says, open job positions are currently going unfilled for 26 business days or more in the non-farm economy, with the most intense competition in non-tech industries including, in decreasing order, information, warehouse, wholesale and retail trade, government and other service jobs.

These factors are making it take longer to fill open jobs and resulting in “multiple offer scenarios and high turnover,” she said. Further, Will Thomson, chief executive officer of Bulls Eye Recruiting, said during the webinar that many job seekers are juggling up to four competing offers.

So what can you, as the hiring company, do to ensure that you are attracting and – perhaps more crucially, retaining – top talent? Miller-Merrell and Thomson suggest the following strategies:

To improve hiring, the pair recommend a five-pronged approach that includes having an established process, doing market research into what the competition is doing, engaging in candidate marketing through multiple employment branding channels, developing relationships and making efficient use of technology.

Having an established process:
In essence, this means simply having a plan. Your plan, as it pertains to hiring, should include the basic who, what, why and when:
– Who are you hiring? (What skills and attributes should the ideal candidate have?)
– What are you hiring them for? (What job roles are available at your company?)
– Why do you need them? (Why do you need this candidate? What will their role play in the broader picture of the company?)
– When do you need them to join the company? (Is this an immediate need? A job that could open up in the not-too-distant future?)

Doing Market Research:
While this one sounds a little time intensive, Miller-Merrell notes that it can be as easy as being a “mystery shopper” at a place with similar positions open to the ones you have. Perhaps it requires an in-person visit to a retail store, or it could be as simple as just browsing their careers page to see what positions they have open.

Engaging through Multiple Branding Channels:
The old adage states that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and when it comes to attracting top talent, there’s certainly more than one way to spread the word that there are jobs available at your company. Miller-Merrell and Thomson presented a slide with examples of employment branding channels, including employee referrals, social media, visual effects (video), print, websites, brand ambassadors, job boards and aggregators, career events and career sites.

Developing Relationships:
Sometimes a great company can come along, but it just isn’t the right time to make the professional leap. However, Miller-Merrell notes that “we have to source people before” they’re ready to leave their previous position, “or if we’re lucky, right as” they leave, and develop a relationship with them. This can be accomplished by staying in casual email contact, connecting via LinkedIn or simply meeting for coffee every now and again to catch up. The idea is that there is a relationship there so that in the event that the person of interest becomes available, you and your company are top of mind in their job search priorities.

Making Efficient Use of Technology:
As briefly mentioned above, there are a myriad of ways to reach out to your talent, but one mode moving to the forefront is that of video technology. Miller-Merrell noted that the average U.S. adult spends five and a half hours a day watching videos. “Video helps you stand out from competitors,” she noted, while Thomson noted that this method could be particularly useful in attracting people who are bored of reading job postings.