How to Hire Great Employees in a Full-Employment Economy

Remember a few years ago, when hiring managers could discard any resume that wasn’t a perfect fit? Things have changed. Today, if your company has a vacancy, tumbleweeds may be blowing past the empty seat as you search high and low for a qualified worker. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

U.S. unemployment has plummeted to 4.1 percent, its lowest rate in more than 15 years. But companies do have options for finding excellent employees even as our economy is at “full employment.” And if you’re among the millions of workers who are wondering if now is the time to shift jobs, you can put these options to work for you, too.

Economists define full employment as an unemployment rate that’s at the lowest possible level without causing inflation. It doesn’t mean everyone has a job. For example, some people can’t or don’t want to work at the moment. Others have just finished school or are returning to the workforce after a lengthy lapse.

It does mean, though, that it’s tough to find candidates. Try these seven tips to help you fill your vacancies – or find your next opportunity.

  1. Speed up your process. Employers are fighting for the best candidates – not the other way around. Hot prospects might have offers within 48 hours. Now isn’t the time to have each job seeker come in for a half-dozen separate interviews before you make a decision. If you want them, make time for interviews and let them know they are your priority.
  2. Be clear about what sets your company apart. Candidates want the right fit to make a job change worthwhile. Every company claims to have a pleasant work environment, attractive benefits and a great team. What really makes your organization a place people want to work? If you’ve been voted one of the market’s top employers, that can help. Maybe you offer unusually flexible schedules, amazing opportunities for advancement, or an innovative feedback and growth system. Describe the most persuasive attributes clearly and honestly.
  3. Know a realistic salary range. Ultimately, hiring in a full-employment economy often comes down to money. Candidates and companies alike should do competitor research. From a hiring standpoint, if your company’s internal pay schedule will hamstring the process, find out where you have leeway. And consider the cost of not What is it costing you to leave a position empty, pay overtime to other team members, continue paying a recruiter or miss out on opportunities?
  4. Find workers in unexpected places. In a tight market, you can’t sit back and wait for workers to come to you. Use social media effectively. Look into untapped markets, like veterans and people in rural areas. Recruit from nearby community and four-year colleges. Offer bonuses to current employees who refer a successful candidate. And don’t overlook existing employees who might be ripe for a promotion or retraining.
  5. Re-evaluate requirements. If you’re having trouble finding qualified candidates, look carefully at the hiring qualifications. What if someone has years of relevant experience instead of the stated master’s degree requirement? Could a smart, motivated worker with a GED and experience serve your customers as well or better than someone with some college education? Some factors aren’t negotiable. You need someone reliable, honest and trustworthy. Consider assessing candidates for transferable skills, personality and integrity rather than eliminating them based on fixed criteria.
  6. Go beyond the standard recruiter function: Consider adding a specialty role to your Talent Acquisition team for someone whose sole job is to hunt for passive talent and proactively bring potential candidates to the table. Many companies are adding this role and calling it a Talent Sourcing Specialist. These folks should be specially trained in the latest tools, technique and technologies to locate hard to find talent with critical skills and should be able to get their attention and engage them in a conversation leading to discussions with the hiring leaders. Remember though, these sourced candidates are unique and may need to be courted vs. put through the standard interview process or you will lose their attention quickly!
  7. Entice passive job seekers. A Gallup poll found that fewer than one-third of workers are engaged with their work. Passive job seekers aren’t actively applying for openings, but they are open to being lured by a new opportunity. How do you find them? Post opportunities on relevant online groups, and be sure to update your company’s Facebook page and website with news and openings. Recruiters and job-seekers alike can use the new LinkedIn function that identifies talent who are open to new opportunities, and wish to keep that information confidential to current employers.
  8. Shine the virtual spotlight. A recent survey found that 94 percent of job seekers would look more closely at companies that actively manage their online brand. A static or out-of-date Facebook page, website or LinkedIn profile might send a negative message to applicants. Organize and promote activities that show what makes your company great, from sponsored volunteering days to team building to big wins.

In a full-employment economy, it’s more important than ever to always keep your eyes open – to new ideas, new people and new opportunities. That’s always true for job seekers, and now it’s true for organizations, too.

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