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A recent article from CNBC indicated that there are 1 million more job openings than people looking for work. We all know there are various reasons that people are searching (or not searching) for new opportunities. The bottom line is that organizations need to focus on their recruiting strategy in a highly competitive labor market.
l’ve always had to recruit in highly competitive business environments. My thought is there are two different kinds of competition when it comes to talent:
- General competition applies to all jobs, and is the result of low unemployment, increased voluntary quits, etc. It could also be the result of a geographic region getting a large employer and creating lots of jobs. Another reason could be a skills gap in a much-needed area like supervisory skills or critical thinking.
- Industry-based competition is specific to a type of work, like technology talent in Silicon Valley. It could be based on a highly technical position. Or it could be the result of a geographic region becoming a hub for certain types of businesses.
Organizations are not immune to competition and must be prepared to address both types when they recruit. The answer isn’t poaching employees. It’s taking steps to make sure your organization rises above the competition.
- Build a solid employment brand. It starts with understanding what makes your organization unique. If your recruiting team doesn’t know, how will they be able to sell candidates on the value of coming to work for the company. Make a concerted effort to find out why employees stay. Hiring managers could start asking “stay interview” questions during their one-on-one meetings.
- Be a great employer. Don’t hesitate to apply for a local/state/national “best places to work” award. It’s a great way to promote your organization and culture when you recruit. Also, consider allowing the HR team to present at conferences. Not only is it great professional development for HR but they are sharing the company’s best practices.
- Offer a competitive compensation and benefits package. I realize a lot goes into the conversation about employee compensation and benefits. But the reality is, as the job market gets more competitive, so do compensation and benefits. Organizations need to ensure their packages are internally fair and externally competitive.
- Have an employee referral program. Employee referrals continue to be a cost-effective source of quality applicant flow. If the company is offering a thank you bonus for recommending candidates, make sure it’s appropriate given your cost per hire. And consider adding former employees and contingent workers – both in terms of being referred and providing referrals. They’re a key piece to today’s recruiting strategy.
- Consider boomerangs. This won’t apply in every situation when you recruit, but giving former employees a door to return to can be a very successful strategy. Allow an employee to leave, gain new skills, and return with a fresh perspective. Just be sure to address old issues that caused them to leave in the first place.
- Give candidates a realistic job preview. Job seekers are doing their research before applying. Organizations should include on their career portal a typical “day in the life” of an employee. This can be done with video and using employee testimonials. Also, while I know it’s an extra step, consider using more readable/relatable job descriptions (versus legalese ones.)
- Make it easy to apply. Organizations must distribute their job openings where candidates spend their time – one of those places being social media. HR professionals and hiring managers should try to find and apply for a job at their company to understand what applicants go through. And candidates should be able to easily view, share, and apply for jobs using their mobile devices.
- Build a talent community. The days of recruiting only when there’s an open job requisition are over. Competition means recruiting all the time. If you don’t have an opening, find a way to keep job seekers engaged. And if job seekers aren’t ready to apply, find a way to keep them engaged. Create a community where future candidates can learn about the company.
- Promote your company brand! This aligns with #7 above. Recruiters need to start taking media requests to talk about the company brand. I know I’ve said that organizations need to build great career websites, distribute job openings on social media, and make sure your site is mobile responsive. That alone isn’t enough. Keep the conversation out there about being a great place to work.
- Train hiring managers to interview well. Last but certainly not least, organizations shouldn’t assume that everyone knows how to interview. Interviewing is harder than it looks. Recruiters should help hiring managers understand the connection between cost per hire, turnover, and the hiring process.
If you’re a good employer, job seekers will want to work for you. Organizations need to get the word out about their culture, jobs, and benefits. Now isn’t the time to be shy about the benefits of working at your organization. Because you can bet your competition is telling candidates the benefits of working for them.12