For employers and hiring managers, locating candidates with suitable backgrounds grows ever challenging — a Manpower Group survey found 40 percent struggle to fill positions globally, while in the U.S., hiring managers face shortages at 46 percent. It's the worst shortage since 2007, the time of the Great Recession. Drastic changes in various industries signal a need for rapid adjustments for both companies and candidates, who must both keep up with the necessary skill requirements.
According to the same survey, those in skilled trades such as carpenters, masons, electricians, and plumbers are among the hardest positions to fill. Tech roles come in second. Some employers believe that fewer people feel attracted to these roles especially since they face more choices in career options than ever.
Basically, U.S. employers struggle to find candidates with more specialized skills —
- 1 in 5 companies report applicants don't possess the relevant experience needed
- 1 in 4 who responded to the Manpower survey said they lacked applicants altogether.
As technology continues to speed ahead, employers increasingly face the challenges of getting through talent shortages. It's time to re-envision recruitment and retention to develop more targeted strategies. Here are some ways to do it.
Revisit Recruitment Strategies
What skills and strengths does the company lack? Develop a targeted recruitment strategy that seeks out these specific skills. Be transparent and detailed about these competencies in each job ad as you search for candidates, saving both you and the prospective employee time on the job hunt.
Think of the ideal professional envisioned for the role you'll advertise. If seeking out a recent graduate for an entry-level position, you could direct your search through social media. For example, on Facebook, you can post the ad directly on your page by clicking on the badge to Publish a Job Post and filling out the details, while elaborating on your particular requirements for the job. Many hiring managers and recruiters see this application as a direct competitor with LinkedIn’s recruiting tools.
Remember, word of mouth still spreads news faster than wildfires. Don't let a lousy application process burn down your access to talent. Is your application portal outdated? Does the application take too long to fill out? Does the application fail to acknowledge the fluidity of sexual identity or appear biased toward the topic? Word travels fast, so listen when multiple candidates voice an opinion about any changes you should make.
Also, fine-tune your interviewing process to screen and select those truly qualified for the position. Each prospect should be screened with a strong recruitment assessment to heighten your odds of receiving the best return on your investment in the candidate search. Can you better target interview questions? Look for behavioral issues that might affect performance when the employee is under pressure, and search for any overplayed strengths.
When your company’s offer process is too long, candidates get snapped up by other organizations.
Some decisions take longer than others, but applicants appreciate a streamlined interview process clearly outlined, transparent and understandable from the beginning. On average, how long does it take your company to notify candidates? Does it vary per department or experience level? Knowledge is power, and it empowers your candidate to have more confidence during their interviews. Make sure you’re all on the same page.
Once you make a decision, it's crucial to notify all applicants. They put time and energy into applying and completing the interview process — give them the same consideration. You can even do more than emailing them or mailing out a formal letter that says “Thank you for applying, but it didn’t work out.”
Show your commitment to improving the recruitment and interview process by offering a survey to get detailed feedback. Then, send a letter inviting those qualified candidates who got away to provide more in-depth feedback on your process. You’ll learn more about how to appeal to the top candidates you desire. Ask, and you’ll receive!
Innovate With the Times
Does the company follow traditional work models that are decades old? Companies must innovate with times and keep their policies on track with employee needs.
A sure sign you're behind the times reveals itself when your recruiting and retention strategies fail.
When you can't hire or keep your employees on board, something must change — and fast.
Get creative and look at current workforce trends to offer the best benefits. Implement amenities your top competitors don’t, such as working part-time, flextime or remotely for competitive pay.
What about other candidate sources? Don't be afraid to look at the talent pool of your top competitors — those candidates may be willing to join your company, especially if your company culture is more family-oriented and positive. Amenities don't always lie where the money does. Talent may feel drawn to a family-friendly business that will allow for flexibility to work remotely, as an example. After all, in ten years, it’s expected that a third of employees will work from home, and many already do.
Meet Training and Development Needs and Gaps
Many companies hire employees and then go distant and cold, expecting employees to develop by themselves. Cultivate talent and don't let potential go to die under the weight of deadlines and burnout. Does your company provide training beyond the level of adequate?
Employees desire training and seek out career paths that offer continued support, learning, and growth — among millennials, 87 percent believe development is fundamental and intrinsic to retaining young employees in a position.
Retention is the best recruitment strategy since it saves more money over time.
Replacing a lost employee costs up to two times the annual salary of the employee, which includes the search, onboarding, training, time until optimal productivity and engagement loss of other employees because of high turnover. Other factors include the impact on work culture and additional errors made in business conduct as a result of employee loss.
Bringing in new hires externally costs more than training and developing existing employees. Cultivate employee talent by revealing clear avenues for growth in the company, keeping them motivated and engaged as they continually seek to improve within a positive work culture. Employees who feel the employer invests in them will invest in the company in return.
Plan for Succession, Train Accordingly
Never suffer from talent shortages again by identifying internal candidates with proven leadership ability and train these professionals for succession accordingly. When senior and leadership employees move on or retire, your talent is already acquired to move up in the company. Your prepared professionals are positioned to produce the results you require because they know your needs and that you're invested in them.
Identify what inspires, motivates, and drives employees. What holds their attention?
Encourage mentorship and training in departments where an employee expresses interest and holds leadership potential. Being at the top can feel lonely, and development is important at every stage. Giving back also reminds leaders why they decided on their career paths in the first place.
Survive talent shortages by revisiting unsuccessful recruiting strategies. Are you looking in the wrong places for the right candidates? Target your search to fit the areas your ideal candidate frequents, such as social media, where millennial entry-level candidates spend time connecting with others. Is your interview process welcoming or daunting? How long does it take you to get back to candidates? Use feedback to strategize and make changes in earnest.
Remember also to stay current and adjust your offers accordingly. While you may not be able to provide a hefty salary, you could offer some flex time for your employees to be with family and work from home.
Invest in the employees you already have. Once your employees are onboard, training and learning shouldn’t end — it should increase! Employees want to develop newer skills and expand their roles to contribute more to the company. You can create personal and professional development programs, as well as offer mentoring opportunities. When existing employees know they're valued and this is expressed, they reflect that back to new hires. These new employees will be eager to contribute and grow while working for such an innovative company with a positive work culture.
Sarah Landrum is a millennial workplace expert and the founder of career and happiness blog, Punched Clocks. Her career development advice has been featured on Forbes, Levo, The Muse, Business Insider and other top publications. Sarah has been listed as one of the top career websites and career experts to follow.