At the beginning of 2020, talent shortages were reported to be one of the top risks for organizations. A February CNBC article argued that, coupled with succession challenges, the inability to attract and retain talent is the result of a mismatch between the skills required for open jobs and the skills of unemployed workers.
A record-high unemployment rate less than a year later would suggest the open jobs to unemployed workers gap has narrowed. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A report by the Global Commission on the Future of Work put it well: “Today’s skills will not match the jobs of tomorrow.”
Employers can play a key role in shrinking the gap, and it begins with reimagining hiring practices. For those that want to adjust their hiring criteria, I offer the following tips to them to help them attract qualified talent.
1. Write inclusive job descriptions and job ads
Craft performance-based position descriptions that focus on outcomes and results instead of skills-based descriptions that are exhaustive lists of duties, responsibilities, and must-haves, which can discourage qualified women from applying to positions because they want to meet as many requirements as possible. An HP report found that while men apply if they meet 60 percent of a job’s requirements, women apply only if they meet 100 percent.
No: Ideal candidates will have a master’s degree in industrial design and 5+ years experience in merchandising.
Yes: Ideal candidates will live and breathe furniture design. They have their finger on the pulse of fresh interior trends and new designers; they are able to talk design to anyone—the designer, the buyer, the planner, and the customer.
Use inclusive language that isn’t derogatory, biased, or discriminatory to any marginalized group.
Avoid using gendered language and avoid using words like “go-getter” and “self-starter,” which can exclude more experienced workers from seeking consideration.
Also, shy away from terminology exclusive to your organization. For example, instead of “Developer I,” use a more descriptive job title, like “Full-Stack Developer.”
Engage employees from the beginning
Just as job seekers are encouraged to create resumes that differentiate them from the competition, your job listings/ads should be constructed to attract your next, best team members.
In addition to the job description, include company highlights, benefits and perks, links to your social media, and/or videos to connect with potential employees. Lastly, make sure there is a call to action (a way to apply) that is prominently placed and instructions that are easy to follow.
2. Partner with recruiters to develop hiring strategies
A McKinsey Global Survey found more than 80 percent of employers don’t believe they are able to recruit highly talented employees. Partnering with recruiters to develop hiring strategies is key.
Recruiters can be critical to finding great employees, especially in large organizations where there is often disagreement among the stakeholders involved in the recruiting life cycle. At the very top of the organization, the emphasis is often on building a workforce with skills to meet the long-term strategic goals, while hiring managers are more focused on finding talent whose past experience matches their immediate and short-term needs.
Recruiters with rich networks can also be helpful in breaking old recruiting habits and diversifying talent pools.
3. Break old recruiting habits
Expand the scope of your employee search beyond the ways you’ve previously looked for new hires. Talent is everywhere, so don’t rely too heavily on a “post-and-pray” method to compel your next great team member to apply. And don’t rely only on immediate networks to build your teams—this can stifle diversity.
Hiring events and career fairs, colleges, universities, and trade schools, employee referral programs, outplacement services/employment agencies, external recruiters, as well as diversity, professional, and community organizations are also great sources for talent. Social media as well: Your jobs should be discoverable, visible, and shared widely across a variety of social networks to attract a diverse talent pool.
Lastly, don’t confine yourself geographically. To address skills shortages in your local market, expand your search to attract job seekers who live outside of the surrounding area and can perform work remotely.
Read more: How to Build a Great New Hire Orientation
4. Look at internal talent
There is likely existing talent in your organization being overlooked when there is a job vacancy.
A 2019 study by Instructure and The Harris Poll found “77 percent of employees feel they’re ‘on their own’ to develop their careers at the company,” and a third of employees quit their jobs because there were no opportunities for growth.
Since retention is a talent shortage risk factor, including current employees in your candidate pools makes good business sense. Recruiting from within your organizations not only boosts employee morale and retention, it offers other benefits as well. Hiring costs are lower, time-to-fill is reduced, there is less time spent getting new hires up to speed and getting acclimated with the company culture, and it facilitates succession planning.
5. Redefine culture fit
Organizations say they are looking for a culture fit, someone who aligns with their values, mission and goals. But in many instances, the existing culture isn’t diverse, inclusive, or equitable. Instead of looking for employees who fit the existing, homogenous culture, look for employees who can aid in building an ideal future culture where individuals from underrepresented communities have a sense of belonging.
Redefine culture fit so it’s approached from the candidate’s perspective, where they are assessing whether the organization is a place they would like to work. Be transparent about organizational norms so they can decide if the way you conduct business will allow them to bring their authentic self to your workplace. For example: Make your workforce demographics public so candidates can see the percentage of women in leadership or people of color in the C-suite, publish salary data so candidates can evaluate pay practices, and openly discuss your diversity, equity, and inclusion practices—plus the ways you measure their success and how you’re tracking against goals.
This is especially beneficial to organizations whose culture is transforming and evolving for the better and opens the door to add new skills and experiences and/or showcase untapped skills and experiences with each new hire.
6. Improve the candidate experience
How job seekers view your organization is based on their interactions during the recruiting process. And in many cases, the interactions of others.
You want to be appraised favorably at all phases: job search, application, interview, hiring, and onboarding. You can lose some of your best potential hires to a bad recruiting experience, even if it wasn’t their own. Rating tools, social media, and networking have made it easier for candidates to talk about their experience—and 92 percent of American workers consider company reviews when applying for a job, and about 30 percent have declined a job offer because of negative reviews.
The application process should be user-friendly (only a few steps to complete, with multiple resume submission options), easily accessible on a variety of devices, and ADA compliant.
Long, drawn-out interview cycles are not ideal—the time it takes from interview to offer should be as concise as possible to avoid losing candidates to competitors or fatigue. Keep candidates informed of their status throughout the process.
For those who weren’t selected for immediate openings, but may be a fit for future openings, keep them engaged in your talent communities by connecting with them on LinkedIn, sharing content that is relevant to their desired career field, and keeping them updated on relevant openings.