8 Tips for Recruiting in Low Unemployment


This is one tight labor market. In case you haven’t been recruiting lately, let me tell you: it’s really tough to find talent if you don’t have a smart game plan and compelling value to offer as an employer, as well as an attractive employer brand. Unemployment is at 2.4% in Denver and statewide in Colorado. In Boulder, it’s 2.1%, and nationwide in the U.S. unemployment is sitting at 4.1%. But with unemployment this low, the additional piece is that the cost of sourcing and hiring new employees has gone up. And we need to recognize and budget for that fact, as well as identifying creative and affordable ways to attract new talent.

I’m an HR professional who recruits, not a recruiter. So, I don’t have access to paid platforms and I don’t have the luxury of having my focus be allocated entirely on sourcing and recruiting great talent. If I throw up an ad (even a sticky and compelling one) on a platform that gives me tons of eyeballs, these days I don’t have lots of qualified people who are looking to apply. And especially if my client hasn’t budgeted for and implemented the groundwork needed to establish visibility and interest from job seekers in them as an employer of choice, my job gets a lot more difficult.

Today, I’m recommending my clients consider the following recommendations, many of which can support both job seeker attraction and employee retention:

·       Use video on company career pages to show what jobs really look like (and showcase their employees in a unique way that communicates their organization’s values and attractiveness as an employer)

·       Institute creative compensation and benefits options that are highly valuable to job seekers and employees, and that reinforce your company’s values, then make sure they’re marketed to potential hires. Some examples are: student loan repayment, sabbaticals, earning a gift on your work anniversary that is actually meaningful (i.e., a new bicycle (or alternative gift of similar value) for employees at a cycling industry company), or a small annual bank of volunteer PTO time where they can be paid to do good work for a local nonprofit with a mission they’re passionate about.

·       Budget for staff time and technology to source and build pipelines of candidates for roles that are likely to be needed in the near future. These are not just roles that turn over or have variable demand, but are also key positions revealed during succession planning.

·       Make your employees into ambassadors for your employer brand. Share content on social media and encourage them to do the same. Yes, this means that you will need to address employee engagement first, so that your ambassadors have an authentic and attractive story to share about what it’s like to work for you.    

·       Invest in technology that allows for creation of a talent community where job seekers not right for one position may be identified as a fit for another, and that also effectively supports recruiters in identifying high value potential hires they can keep warm for later opportunities that are likely to come up. This needn’t be highly complex or expensive, but it does take some thought and expertise to determine requirements and find the right cloud-based platform or system solution, depending on the complexity of the client need.

·       Involve your leaders in sourcing talent and building your employer brand. Often managers are involved in professional and industry groups where they network with others who might have skills that could be needed by the organization in futures hires. Create and share a game plan with them for identifying candidates who should be in your pipeline. Often these people are currently employed-organizational leaders must be tasked with responsibility for continuously not only representing the company in the community but also looking for opportunities to recruit new talent. This activity shouldn’t just start when an opening becomes available.

·       Don’t let time to fill be your trigger to hire. It is naturally going to take longer to find the right new employee for your teams in this tight market. Hold out for the right new employee who will shine and stay to help your organization be successful.

And the final, but most important recommendation is that in EVERY interaction with job seekers, my clients must represent their employer brand in a positive way by being responsive, professional, friendly and respectful of people’s time and interest. If done the right way, this is the lowest cost recommendation but potentially the highest impact. If employers can turn job seekers themselves who weren’t chosen for positions into brand ambassadors, then a very small positive action can have an amazing ripple effect. Job seekers, after all, are often customers, and they also might be right for another position down the road, even if they weren’t hired for the one at hand.

Sourcing, recruiting and hiring can be successful in today’s low-unemployment environment. It just takes some creativity and prior planning, as well as a little bit of patience.

Photo credit: flazingo_photos via Foter.com / CC BY-SA