Tips For Recruiting Employees In A Tight Job Market

Sure, full employment means recruiting is going to be more difficult. That doesn’t mean CEOs should compromise their selection standards. Times have changed when it comes to recruiting.  It wasn’t so long ago that a posting or an advertisement would draw tens, if not hundreds of responses.  From what I can tell, with rare exception, these kinds of numbers are now a thing of the past and the quality of responses has diminished as well.  Why shouldn’t this be the case though; doesn’t full employment beget a ‘seller’s market?’

Don’t compromise your selection standards yet though. There are a number of techniques, some more tedious than others that could help you be successful in a labor market of short supply.

• Treat qualified candidatalenttes as you do your customers and clients, focusing on meeting their needs as much as you do on their experience and abilities to meet yours.

• Where possible, be willing to flex the job prerequisites and responsibilities of the position you’re trying to fill. A compromise here or there may create a pathway for a high potential applicant to on-board that otherwise would have been eliminated from consideration, not being viewed as the ‘total package.’

• Provide high potential candidates the opportunity to spend meaningful time with their future peers in the organization and especially with recent hires. Doing so may become one of your best recruiting tools!

• More than ever, seek referrals from your employees and be willing to pay for them.

• Be prepared to redefine or accelerate your hiring plan(s) if the opportunity presents itself; being overly rigid for the sake of following a plan can lead to opportunities lost and,

• To the financial side, consider enhancing a compensation package such that after e.g. six months a long term incentive kicks in designed to reward years of service on the back end. Predictions are that millennials will have many jobs and even multiple careers —  this could be one way to break the pattern for a few!

A few examples to emphasize:

• Early in my career, while working for a Fortune 500 company, I interviewed for the position of VP of manufacturing for a small regional company. Their goal was to hire someone into that position on a track to become president within a year.  The interview process was comprehensive and while the company concluded that I was their first choice, they were concerned that if offered the position of VP I would not accept.  They redefined their hiring plan and instead offered me the position of president.  They took a calculated risk, as did I, and history shows…it worked out well for both of us!

• Many years later, while in an executive role at another company, we became frustrated at the turnover rate of new employees. After folks were with us for a year they had a high probability of becoming long-termers; it was the first year that was problematic.  In hindsight there were a number of factors contributing to the turnover. New hires hadn’t worked in a factory before, they weren’t used to 12-hour shifts, they were unaccustomed to a process driven work environment and in some cases…they didn’t realize we expected them to work!  Our solution — we offered top candidates the opportunity to work in the factory for a few days at the pay rate if hired.  They experienced firsthand what the job entailed and their potential coworkers then shared in the final hiring decision.

In many industries it’s a seller’s market when it comes to recruiting new employees.  Be willing to flex past hiring practices in response.  Lessons learned.

Read more: The Real Cost Of A Bad Hire

Fred Engelfried
Fred Engelfried is Director/Chair of Lewis Tree Service, Inc and advisor to many mid-cap companies. He has been a member of the board of directors of Lewis for nearly 20 years, and for 10 years prior to that worked with the company intermittently in various consulting capacities. He also is President of Market Sense Inc., a participative management firm that has served more than 100 regional clients over 35 years.