The competition is cut-throat and it seems everyone’s vying for the one person with that true star quality. Sound like an episode of The Voice? Well, step aside Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson, because these days there is no competition hotter than when your HR folks are looking to fill some job openings!
A report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that just shy of half of all small business owners can’t currently fill the open positions they have – marking the fourth consecutive month of record-breaking highs and 26 points higher than the 22-percent average tracked across the 48-year period that the group has collected and analyzed this data. Asked what was holding them back from extending those offer letters, a staggering 93 percent of respondents cited a lack of qualified candidates for their open positions, with 32 percent reporting “few qualified applicants” and 25 percent citing none.
With few qualified candidates and an abundance of jobs to fill, we’ve spoken to the pros and identified five proven strategies to help you get your open positions filled by top-notch candidates:
Make it easier for good candidates to join your company
During the Covid-19 pandemic, a staggering 1.8 million women left the workforce to fill the care gaps burst open by virtual schooling and shuttered daycare facilities. However, research shows that women are more reliable than their male counterparts, even after factoring in their additional child-rearing responsibilities. As more women navigate a post-pandemic return to the workforce, consider altering your benefits package to include more family-friendly perks, such as flexible scheduling so moms can navigate pick up and drop-offs or even discounts at local childcare centers to make yourself more attractive to this hugely talented pool of potential candidates. Similarly, the pandemic, and associated business closures and restructurings, may have forced many folks who are still very capable of working to take early retirement. While they might not want to return to the office full-time, consider offering part-time or job-sharing opportunities to attract this highly skilled group of workers.
Pick your partners
Depending on the industry that you’re in, you may be able to pool talent simply by partnering with local high schools, community colleges, and even vocational schools. Building relationships with these types of organizations gives you access to candidates before they technically even hit the job market before they even know how sought after they are. Moreover, if you’re a regular employer of their graduates, these programs may even seek your advice on what course offerings or seminars might better prepare their workers for a job in your industry or even at your company! But the relationship doesn’t end there – your existing employees can similarly seek out courses with these trusted providers, helping to upskill your existing workforce and further build a brand for your business at the educational facility of your choice.
Rethink your requirements
Sure, you may have a certain someone in mind when you create a job posting, but could your stringent requirements be turning some candidates off? Rather than front-load all the certification and degree requirements for the job, instead focus on the actual skills that you’re looking for. Further reel in talent by noting that you are looking for someone willing to grow their knowledge base or build on to their skill set. Tout your education offerings, apprenticeship opportunities, and even mentorship programs to let less tenured talent know that you’re invested in their development. Now, in some cases, licensure may be required for the job, but could it be worth your while to consider upskilling an interested employee and encouraging (or better yet, paying for!) them to get their official certification?
Reconsider your geography
While the pandemic did teach us workers don’t need to be in-house to be effective, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should throw geography out the window when it comes to advertising your job openings. Rather, studies by Harvard University suggest that if having people on-site is integral to your operations, you should focus recruiting efforts on the counties closest to you. You see, if folks are already making the drive to your area, it won’t be that big of a burden for them to make the commute to your office versus their former workplace. That said, the experts note that you can throw an extra Covid-related perk in and allow workers to telecommute one or more days a week or alter your typical workday so that they skip rush hour, both of which equate to less time in the car and more quality time at home.
State your long-term goals
Following on from our last bullet point, one of the biggest changes that you can do to recruit top talent is to show them that you’re invested! In the above bullet point, we talked about the possibility of upskilling your workforce to meet the rigors of the job, but it shouldn’t stop there. Regardless of their skill set coming into the job, workers want to know that your company offers not just stability — which can prove a tough feat in the post-pandemic setting — but that you’re also committed to their long-term success. Even as early as that first interview, if you believe you have a star in your midst, go ahead and talk to candidates about how they can grow in their careers and advance at your company. Talk about the “next steps” for a job like theirs, including what skills or experience they would need to bump up the career ladder, what that next rung would look like, and what help and resources you can provide along the way to ensure their long-term success.
What strategies are you employing to attract and win over!?