It’s hard to exaggerate how tough it is to hire right now.
Time to hire has been hovering around an all-time high, between 27 and 29 days. On top of that, there are more unfilled job positions than ever in the U.S., and unemployment claims are at a 42-year low.
Just about everyone who wants a job has one. There’s also a huge skills gap, meaning that employers may be getting applicants, but not ones that can do the jobs.
So how can you beat the tough job market and keep hiring during a time like this? We’ve got 7 tips to help you figure it out.
1. Embrace Employer Branding
I don’t blame you if you feel a little let down by this first tip, but please, let me explain.
Although it may seem like the kind of thing that can wait until the hiring market has improved, branding really is important right now. For one, whether you like it or not, you already have an employer brand.
These days, employees are building your brand for you on social media and employer review sites. This is really important, because companies with positive employer brands get twice as many applicants and pay less per employee.
If you don’t actively try to manage your brand, and encourage the positive voices to help you promote it, you could be missing out on a lot of applicants, and paying more than you should be in payroll and recruiting costs.
2. Get Your Employees Engaged
Employee engagement may sound like something only companies with huge HR budgets can afford to worry about.
It shouldn’t be like that though. There’s a reason why Gallup chooses employee engagement as one of the few things it measures daily, along with the president’s job approval, unemployment and consumer spending.
Engaged employees are ones who literally go above and beyond, doing more than the minimum required. They also are more productive, easier to retain, and more likely to refer applicants.
All of these things will help you right now. And the good news is that increasing engagement isn’t terribly hard or expensive.
Recognizing employee efforts when they go above and beyond, even in small ways, has a big effect on engagement. So does managing in a way that focuses on strengths, rather than weaknesses, and having more frequent meetings with managers.
You’ve got nothing to lose by trying these tactics, and lots to gain.
3. Tighten Up Your Hiring Process
Think of the hiring process as a sales funnel, and your applicants as potential customers. Go through each and every step, and make sure you don’t have a leaky funnel.
For example, if you’ve got the best job ads in the world, but it takes employees to a contact page with 22 fields to fill in and a confusing submission process, you’ve got a leak.
Look at every step, from how you recruit to how you onboard, to be sure that you’re communicating well, thinking about how it looks from the applicant’s point of view, and try to streamline your process whenever possible.
4. Improve Your Job Ads
This is something I really bug employers about.
People tend to just take the job description and copy and paste it onto a job board. The result is boring job ads that all look the same, with long bullet-pointed lists of things that the employer wants.
Flip this on its head if you want to stand out. Write your next job ad from scratch, listing all the reasons an employee will love the job. Write about what makes your company great, why the position is awesome, the team they’ll be working on, your location, etc.
Give them everything they’ll want to know, and really try to sell them on the job. You’ll stand out on the job boards, and I can almost guarantee you’ll get lots more applicants.
5. Know What Candidates Want
If you know what the best candidates will want in a position, and what they dislike about their employers, you’ll be in a good position to attract more applicants.
The internet offers a couple quick ways of learning about this. One of my favorites is a quick Google search. Go to Google and paste this in the search bar: intitle:forum [position]. For example, if you’re hiring a bullfighter, you’ll write, intitle:forum bullfighter.
This search will bring back all forums about that position. These are typically places where people that hold this job go to talk about it. Often times they’ll talk about their favorite things about the job, biggest gripes, and industry trends.
This type of information can inform what types of benefits you offer, management style, employer brand messaging and how you write job ads. It’s invaluable, yet free.
I hope that helped relieve some of the stress this tight job market is causing anyone who needs to recruit. If you’re short on time, just give tip 5 a try. It can be amazingly helpful to see how people in the position you want to hire for talk about the job.
Author: Paul Peters is content marketer and job ad writer with Betterteam. Before Betterteam he spent 6 years building an education startup, where he was involved with many aspects of the business, including hiring. He lives in Whitefish, Montana.