It’s a tough time to be a recruiter. Hiring managers are increasingly frustrated by what they call the current “war on talent.” Here’s why:

  • In a 2019 report published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 83% of respondents reported having trouble recruiting suitable candidates in the past 12 months.
  • 75% of those having difficulty recruiting believe there is a skills shortage among their applicants.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6% as of April 2019.  

Laurie McIntosh, SHRM employee and Capella graduate

Few people know the challenges of hiring and keeping quality employees better than Laurie McIntosh, SHRM-SCP, CAE, a field services director for SHRM and a graduate of the Master of Science in Human Resource Management online degree program at Capella University. In her role, McIntosh, supports more than 30,000 SHRM members in her five-state territory.

One thing McIntosh knows for sure is this: employers and hiring managers can’t keep doing what they’ve always done to attract talent and expect to compete. The status quo won’t cut it in today’s tight labor market. “The truth is, prospective employees are in the driver’s seat,” says McIntosh. “They have more options available to them and more resources at their fingertips to help them decide where to work than ever before.”

To meet those high expectations, McIntosh suggests the following seven strategies to rethink recruiting and attract the best talent, enabling a better workplace:

1.Be Where Your Candidates Are

The most critical thing an organization can do to attract qualified candidates is to be where they are. Today, that means having an up-to-date presence on the myriad of online platforms that job candidates use to look for jobs and research company culture and reputation. Is your organization on sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed? What is the experience like on the career section of your own website? Is it intuitive and inviting, or clunky and hard to navigate? Is it exciting and contemporary, or is it boring and stale?

An organization’s brand as employer must be compelling and consistent across the entire digital ecosystem. If an organization doesn’t tell its own story, others will – and they won’t necessarily do it well.

“This is the defining factor when trying to recruit candidates: Are you where they are and how they want you to be there?” McIntosh says. “If you’re not, your company is simply not going to attract top talent. You need to make the time to take a hard look at your brand as an employer, refresh it if needed, and make sure it’s presented in a way that will compel people to apply.”

2. Simplify Your Job Application – Think Mobile First

We live in a mobile-first world. This is a reality that every organization and hiring manager needs to accept and accommodate. When applying for a job, applicants expect the application process to be simple, intuitive, and entirely doable on their phones.

“Some organizations are stuck in old processes, using long application forms that often aren’t mobile friendly – and that’s a non-starter for many people,” McIntosh says. “If it takes longer than five minutes to complete an online application form, people will abandon it. Think hard about the bare minimum needed to get a qualified candidate in the pipeline. Do that and nothing more. You can get the rest of the information later.”

3. Take a Hard Look at Your Employee Referral Program

Employee referral programs are nothing new, but too many organizations let them languish. They only work if given enough visibility and attention. That starts with taking a hard look at what works and what doesn’t. Do the incentives offered motivate employees to refer? Does money drive them? Is it enough? Maybe they want more time off. Have employees ever even been asked what would incentivize them to refer?

“Everyone knows that employees can be an organization’s best brand ambassadors, but too few companies do the regular due diligence needed to know what incentivizes employees to refer,” McIntosh says. “It begins with ensuring employees are even aware of the jobs available and are encouraged to help promote them. That shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt. They also need to be equipped with the messaging to help sell those jobs. Ensure they have everything they need.”

4. Learn and Embrace Predictive Analytics

Many people view metrics and analytics as the same thing. They are not. Metrics are essentially just raw data. Analytics, on the other hand, involves looking at metrics critically and strategically. Predictive analytics involves a deep dive into hiring trends and employee characteristics and behaviors that lead to the best outcomes.

“With predictive analytics, you can look at trends in where successful candidates are sourced from – what school, what area, where in the organization they work, and how they perform in their role,” McIntosh explains. “Then you can build off that analysis and invest your time and money to focus on where recruiting works best. Hiring managers who can learn and apply predictive analytics will have a leg up on the competition.”

 Capella University’s master’s degree programs in human resource management incorporate valuable analytics courses needed to succeed in the profession.

5. Explore Geofencing

One of the more cutting-edge tools for recruiting is geofencing. Essentially, geofencing uses the GPS in candidates’ smartphones to target them with messaging when they cross into a geographic boundary (for example within one mile of a company’s facility). When the geofence is crossed, it triggers an automatic text message, email alert, or other notification about available jobs.

“Geofencing is used a lot in retail, but for recruiting it can really break through the job-posting clutter out there,” McIntosh says. “It’s not right for every organization, but something worth exploring.”

6. Investigate Apprenticeships

Long a staple of training programs in Europe, apprenticeships are experiencing a rebirth in the United States. They differ from internships in that they are typically multi-year programs that begin with high school students working for an organization while in school. For the right organizations in the right industries, apprenticeships can help fill sorely needed positions with fresh talent.

“Apprenticeships are experiencing a resurgence in the United States, particularly in manufacturing,” McIntosh says. “For many organizations, establishing a formal apprenticeship program can open up a pipeline of candidates who can become long-term employees.”

7. Don’t Ignore Non-Traditional Candidates

In the current labor market, organizations can’t afford to ignore non-traditional candidate pools like military veterans and those recently released from incarceration.

“Many military veterans have fabulous technical skills and leadership abilities that translate very well into the private sector,” McIntosh says. “People who were formerly incarcerated can be great employees, too. They can be incredibly hardworking and loyal.”

In summary, McIntosh stresses that in this hiring environment, employers must always be reviewing their recruiting processes and evaluating what works. Hiring top talent can make a better workplace for all employees.

Develop the critical-thinking skills to tackle hiring challenges with a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Capella University.

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