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Adapting Your Hiring Practices to Thrive in a Tight Labor Market

Oh, the good old days, when your company had applicants in triple digits for a single opening. These days, low workforce participation and low unemployment are a double whammy for companies looking to fill positions. Those good old days are behind you, and your good old hiring practices should be as well.

If you haven’t adopted an adapt-or-die approach for employee recruitment yet, you need to. Innovative ideas can’t be relegated only to your sales and marketing teams. Your human resources roles need to get creative as well.

Don’t let a challenging labor market leave you without the people you need to be successful. Adapt your hiring practices instead. Here are a few ideas for thinking outside the box.

Let Someone Else Employ Your People

There’s no universal rule that says your company has to employ the people who work for you. If the first thing that comes to mind is “independent contractors,” you need to think bigger. It’s true that the gig economy offers unprecedented access to talent. But that’s not the only way to put someone else’s employees to work for you.

Consider working with an employer of record, which can hire international employees on your behalf. This approach not only enables you to vastly increase your talent pool, it also greatly reduces the complications of global hiring.

That’s because the EOR is the legal employer of the people you choose to hire. It handles all the required details, like regulatory compliance, payroll, benefits administration, taxes, and other functions you’d find exhausting. Yet you still control what those employees do for your company.

Push Your Boundaries

Digital infrastructure, trade agreements, and open borders have made the world a lot smaller. If the only place you’re looking for employees is within daily commuting distance, you’re missing out. While your company is standing on the deck, others are diving into bottomless pools of talent.

Although some jobs can’t be handled remotely, the pandemic showed just how many of them can be. Don’t exclude candidates just because they don’t want to show up at the office in person every day. The right employee working from home a thousand miles away is better than the wrong warm backside in your office chair.

And as noted, you needn’t let even international borders hold you back. An EOR established in the country where great employees live will shoulder the HR load while your company reaps the benefits. Even small businesses can put a world of talent in their sights.

Change Your Job Requirements

When was the last time you compared the requirements in your job postings to the actual jobs? If it’s been a while, you aren’t alone. Some companies likely have position announcements that haven’t been changed in decades. In this climate, you should be reviewing job descriptions at least annually.

The problem with not reviewing and revising job descriptions routinely is that they probably exclude great candidates. Tech jobs are a prime example. You make a college degree a requirement for one at your peril. A lot of smart, tech-savvy prospects won’t even bother applying if they don’t have the requisite diploma.

Before you advertise a job opening, take a hard look at what you’re asking for. Talk to employees who have the same job to determine what requirements an applicant truly needs to meet. You may be surprised by how quickly some roles can change.

Grow Your Own Talent

A lot of companies have a policy of trying to hire from within before they open up a search, says WeWork. It’s a solid way to encourage current employees to stay with you. But not as many companies invest in plans to actually develop their own talent.

Upskilling employees takes place through intent, not happenstance. You will need to identify your stars — those individuals  who are engaged and productive — and see them in different roles. Then figure out what it will take to move them into those positions. They may need additional training or education. Perhaps transitioning to a mid-level job for a period will groom them for a job higher up the food chain.

A talent development strategy offers two benefits. First, the lower-level jobs your employees leave to move up will likely be easier to fill. Second, and even better, the opportunity for advancement provides incentives for your best team members to stick around.

Become an Employer of Choice

Do your existing hiring practices include a commitment to becoming an employer of choice? The law of attraction applies here. Become the employer everyone wants to work for, and you’ll have no shortage of candidates to choose from.

If you aren’t sure where to begin, think of everything that boosts employee satisfaction. This includes pay and benefits, healthy work-life balance, empowerment, opportunities for advancement, and more. Being an employer of choice affects hiring on two levels. It helps you retain your current employees — so you’ll have less hiring to do — and it makes you a far easier sell to prospects. 

Again, companies don’t become an employer of choice by accident. You’ll need to pony up time and money to effect this transformation. But the rate of hiring return should be worth it.

Adapt or Get Squeezed Out

The continued tight labor market is putting the squeeze on the human resources department. Many of yesterday’s tried-and-true hiring practices have been caught in the crush. If you don’t want your company to become a casualty, you’ll need to get more creative with locating, recruiting, hiring, and keeping talent. The practices outlined here can help.

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