This year, the labor market has been anything but predictable: not only did it experience a 21-year high in voluntary employee resignations, but also a 15-year low in the number of unemployed persons per job opening. In August 2021 alone, 4.3 million American workers quit their jobs. In September, the number of unemployed persons per job opening fell to just 0.7. This data is just a small reflection of how tight the labor market has been throughout 2021. It also tells a larger story about the ways in which employees’ professional expectations, desires, and goals have shifted since early 2020.
For millions of businesses, the trends have spelled trouble and frustration in the hiring arena. Traditional recruiting methods have failed. Great candidates are hard to find and even harder to hire. Retention methods are proving shaky as talented current team members get eye-popping offers from competing organizations. As key positions go unfilled, critical projects and initiatives go unfinished … or never get underway to begin with.
These are hurdles many companies have never before faced in their hiring strategies. But as with all unexpected challenges, success is found by those who pivot early and adjust often.
From our vantage point in the talent solutions space, Vaco has seen our clients’ hiring struggles firsthand. As we’ve innovated new ways to help companies find and hire the talent they need, we’ve developed some key advice for navigating this challenging labor market.
1. Develop a thorough and efficient hiring process
Hiring companies have to remember: in this market, great candidates are in demand by both their own company and by most of their competitors. If you’ve decided to pursue an outstanding candidate, it is highly likely that other companies are, too.
With so many options to choose from, the differentiator for many candidates lies in each potential employer’s interview process. For companies seeking talent that’s especially in demand—like accountants, controllers, and IT professionals—a long, drawn-out interview process can become a liability.
Hiring managers and company leaders have to innovate an efficient interview process that still provides a thorough overview of a candidate’s skills and fit.
Ask yourself if it’s necessary to include two rounds of skills testing, or if it’s possible to simply combine your assessments to trim your interview rounds. Determine which members of your organization need a one-on-one interview with a candidate and which ones could combine their time for a more streamlined panel interview. Be open to video interviews to eliminate scheduling issues that can arise with in-person requirements.
Proper due diligence during the interview process should always be your top priority. But the current market is moving fast, and clinging to traditional interview timelines can be detrimental when so many companies are moving with unprecedented urgency.
2. Be aware of all the open positions in a department—not just the one a candidate is interviewing for
Maybe you’ve landed an interview with a candidate who has great skills, a great personality, and would be a great addition to your organization. After a quick phone interview, you realize that they aren’t an ideal fit for the role they’ve applied for … but you don’t want to discount the contributions they could make to your company.
In these situations, it’s critical to know every role that is currently open in your department. This knowledge will allow you to transition the conversation from a role that isn’t a great fit to one that might be perfect. It also allows you to keep a solid candidate in the fold instead of sending them on their way at the end of the conversation.
3. Have a solid strategy for developing and retaining your team members
In a tight labor market, highly skilled professionals have opportunities at every turn—even if they aren’t actively looking for a new job. If you aren’t diligently working to retain and develop your current workforce, you may find your best team members leaving for better opportunities elsewhere.
Develop a retention strategy that emphasizes employee engagement and recognizes employees’ achievements on an ongoing basis. Establish professional development plans that allow employees to pursue certifications, training, and upskilling opportunities. Adjust your employee benefits and perks to meet your workforce’s expectations and desires. Once you’ve established these strategies, globalize them for every level of your organization and develop language for promoting these strategies to candidates during their interviews.
4. Communicate your company policies on COVID-19 vaccinations during the interview process
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new issues and changes in the workplace, most of which have a direct impact on employees and potential employees.
It’s important for hiring companies to be transparent about COVID-related initiatives, including vaccine mandates, when interviewing potential new employees. Lay out your COVID policies clearly, and be prepared to answer any questions the candidate may have about future changes or updates to the policies as pandemic restrictions lift.
No trend in the labor market lasts forever, and companies will have to adjust their hiring strategies yet again when the current landscape changes.
Even with the never-ending cycle of change, it’s still important for hiring managers to have best practices, proven policies, and great strategies in place, regardless of the state of the market. Partnering with an experienced recruiting company can help make this possible.
Vaco is a global talent solutions firm that helps companies find and hire the talent they need, when they need them. Whether it’s bringing in an entire team to solve a specific business challenge or helping companies find their next superstar team member, we’re with you all the way.
Ready to learn more about Vaco’s solutions?
Reach out today.