We’ve discussed this a bit in previous posts, but it’s relatively easy to make the argument that hiring is getting harder these days. Organizations often don’t have wiggle room on salary (except for certain positions) and the North American job market is broadly strong, at least in terms of low unemployment. 67% of recruiters in one survey said it’s “harder than ever to find top talent.” A SHRM survey showed similar results: 74% of recruiters believe hiring becomes harder year-over-year. The New York Times has even weighed in on all this.
Now, the inputs to this problem are many and various. Some could cite a lack of effective training in skills that employers need now. You could also cite a questionable relationship between hiring managers and recruiters that leads to less-than-great candidates. You could also look at poor forecasting and even the “skills gap” discussion for reasons why talent acquisition is getting more difficult. Whatever particular mix of inputs your organization believes is making hiring harder, there are ways to be more effective when it comes to filling new roles and finding new talent. So what are a few tactics to try if you're struggling to fill your open seats?
Tips and tricks to hire better
Everyone has their standard recruiting strategies these days but when those fail to win you the kind of candidates you're looking for, what else can you try? Let's explore 6 ideas to help you ace the hiring game.
1) Lean on technology: Every company is a tech company now, right? We’ve heard that before, and it’s often true. Well, the global recruitment software industry is worth about $200 billion -- and growing. There are lots of options out there, increasingly including more advanced technology like machine learning and AI for quick sourcing and screening (a computer can go through 300 resumes much faster than a human being can). Even if you just start with an ATS, or Applicant Tracking System, without any fancy bells and whistles, you’re making a good initial investment.
2) Lean more heavily on employee referrals: When you make a blind hire, i.e. someone that no one in your company knew before they were a candidate, even if you vet and vet and vet and vet and interview and check references and interview again, that hire is still slightly better than an educated guess. But when you get an employee referral, especially from someone that your business trusts right now, there is a much higher chance of success with that hire. If you need to bring in financial incentives for referrals and have the ability, do it. If you need some examples of incentives for the referral process, consider these learnings from a recruiter conference in Atlanta.
3) Use assessments: This is the world we live in, and we believe deeply in assessments as a great way to understand who your best candidate options are. Assessments and pre-hire testing are scientific ways to get at who you need to be hiring, as opposed to hiring processes rooted more in “Walk me through your resume” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” While you might glean value from those questions at some level, assessments allow you to see a broader, vetted picture of those you’re considering.
4) Structured interviews: Since we just mentioned a more generic line of interviewing, definitely consider using structured interviews in your hiring process. In a set of structured interviews, each candidate receives essentially the same question set in the same order, which allows for a more direct comparison of their responses and examples versus one another. If you use unstructured interviews, i.e. everyone gets different questions in different orders, it’s much harder to compare Candidate A to Candidate B, because their experience within the interview was so different.
5) Better candidate experience: Many, many books and articles have been written about candidate experience in the last decade, but it remains a very viable differentiator to get better people into your company. Candidate experience encompasses a lot of different things, but at the core it’s about communication and respect. Respect a candidate’s time and let them know where they stand throughout the process. At the same time, have examples of culture on your site, on your social channels, etc. Make people look at your company from the outside and say “Wow, that seems like a place I would love to be.” Then once they decide to become a candidate, keep them thinking that way by respecting and communicating with them.
6) Do more with diversity: More diverse teams have bottom-line impact, get better ideas out the door, and generally are less prone to group-think. But to recruit in a diverse way requires a deeper commitment to going beyond normal events and channels. Go to specific diversity events. Sponsor a women in STEM class at a local university, or even a small innovation competition for women/minorities. Be active in the process and you will find hidden gem talent all over. Torin Ellis, a respected speaker on diversity, has often said that the biggest problem with diversity recruiting is that organizations don’t invest in going to different events and thinking differently; they do the same things they’ve normally done and assume that might attract a more diverse pool. It, unfortunately, doesn't work that way. Extra effort is required here.
7) Avoid ageism: Ageism is becoming an increasingly important topic in the workplace as more companies are turning to younger hires who tend to be cheaper and potentially more adept with technology. There are many under or unemployed workers out there from other generations who can bring a vast amount of experience and knowledge to their role. Don't just focus on university hiring. Think about using job boards as well as social media, for example, so you can cast a wider recruitment net and hopefully attract workers of all generations.
Hiring doesn't have to be difficult
Hiring is getting harder, yes -- and it will in 2020 too. But when you take a step back and think critically about your hiring process, you can see areas for improvement. Potential candidates are out there, it's just a matter of finding the right way to identify and communicate with them. Whether that means updating your job descriptions, changing your approach to passive candidates or former employees, or adjusting your interview process, there are many ways to tweak your strategy. Setting up a strong talent pipeline will help you find qualified candidates faster and using some of the tactics here will help you streamline that process. Hiring decisions aren't easy. But when you have quality candidates and detailed information to work with, filling those open roles gets a little easier.