From trucking to construction to car care to print
distribution, across all sectors in which we work, there is one common trend
that our recruiting team has noticed – there’s a shortage of skilled and
unskilled workers to fill available jobs.
And this shortage significantly impacts our clients, particularly the
small businesses with whom we work.
“I’ve really never seen it like this,” said Lisa Ritchie, our
Vice President for Recruiting and Talent Selection. “We have more recruiting work than we have
ever had, but this tight labor market is tough.
We’re having to prepare our clients for the fact that filling these
positions in this market is challenging.” Lisa’s not kidding. If you’re looking
to hire someone in 2018, you’re in for a bit of a bumpy ride. Consider the following:
Unemployment Rate. The national
unemployment rate fell to a near historic low of 3.9% in April. Many states,
such as Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin have unemployment
rates of less than 3%.
· Wages on
the Rise. The tightening
unemployment rate is beginning to drive up wages as workers demand higher
salaries and current employers are increasingly counter-offering more money to
keep from losing their talent.
· Too Many
Jobs, Too Few Candidates. Job openings hit record highs in March as job
seekers dwindle. In July 2009, just
after the Great Recession, there were 6.7 unemployed people on average for each
available job. In March 2018, it fell to
Time to Fill On the Rise. The
average time to fill positions continues to creep up, particularly for skilled,
experienced workers. Our current average
time to fill is approximately 60 days, up from 45 days just a couple of years
Although these are national
trends, we see their impact on our clients in all of the industries in which we
work, for skilled and unskilled positions, and in all regions of the
country. In fact, nearly every day we
get inquiries from new clients who have tried to fill their open position on
their own and are baffled by the lack of response to their job posting. The reason?
Job postings aren’t drawing enough candidates because there aren’t
enough candidates actively looking for new jobs. The vast majority of positions we fill for
our clients are the result of actively headhunting passive candidates – those
candidates who are currently employed, not looking for new jobs but are open
and willing to consider a new position if the opportunity is presented to
Clearly, these are frustrating
times to try to fill open positions. But
before you give up and hire a recruiting firm to help you, here are some tips
for you to consider:
creative about marketing your position. Remember,
you are in a stiff competitive battle with both other employers and with the
candidates’ current employers. Be
creative about how you structure the position and, more importantly, how you
market the position.
2. Get real about
pay. There is nothing more
frustrating than losing a solid candidate because an employer is unwilling to
increase their new hire’s pay. Our
advice: these are tough times and businesses just got the gift of a huge
corporate tax break. Put it to good use
and don’t low-ball your offer to a qualified candidate.
dawdle! We know you’re busy, but
this is a worker’s market. If you don’t
have the bandwidth to move quickly on your candidate selection, don’t bother
starting the project. We’ve lost a
number of excellent candidates because the employer took two to three weeks to
make a decision on the candidate.
There’s no time to waste – be prepared to move decisively and to move
headhunt, headhunt. More than 80% of
the positions we fill are with passive candidates that we headhunted. Yes, it takes time and energy. But the good news is that there are plenty of
resume databases you can purchase access to.
Quite frankly, you have to go find your talent because it’s not coming
to you. In fact, on a recent client
project in Dallas, our professional job posting netted just three
applicants. Three! If you are planning on posting the position
and waiting for qualified candidates to roll in, I’m afraid you’ll be waiting a
5. Start early. Many clients contact us when they are primed
and ready for their new talent, only to find themselves frustrated that it
takes so long to fill a position. If you
know you need to fill a position by Q3 2018, start now because it will take
time to find the perfect candidate, particularly the one who is currently
gainfully employed and not looking for a job.
6. Do everything in your power not to lose
your existing talent. There are many
employers out there that are more than happy to recruit away your top
talent. Make it impossible for them to
do that. If you sense your pay is below
scale for the industry, now’s the time to fix that. If you’re unsure whether your employees are
happy and engaged, focus your energy on finding out how they feel and what you
can do to improve their overall satisfaction.
Listen to them. Conduct a focus
group. Conduct an employee satisfaction
survey. Buy them lunch. Show them you appreciate them. If you don’t have a strategic plan in 2018 to
improve employee engagement, now is the time to come up with one.
Yes, the tight labor market is a significant challenge for
our clients, but we see dramatic differences in the recruiting success between
those employers who are well-prepared and aggressive in their recruiting
efforts and those who take a more laissez-faire approach. Remember – your talent are your most valuable
asset – now is the time to make the investments necessary to attract, hire and
By Claudia St. John, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, President – Affinity HR