Recruiting in-demand talent in a hot labor market

by Carrie Kolar

The nearly-full employment rate of the U.S. economy, presents a tough challenge for employers looking for candidates in general, but particularly those who are looking for in-demand talent. Unemployment rate has fallen steadily in the past few years – in fact, in December 2016, the U.S. labor market experienced its 75th consecutive month of job growth, and the unemployment rate was at pre-recession levels of 4.7%.


Recruiting Challenges

According to John Younger, CEO of Accolo, a recruitment process outsourcing company headquartered in Austin, TX, the last couple of years saw an “incredibly aggressive recruiting market.” Unemployment is at its lowest since 2008, and a more candidate-driven recruiting process means that more employees feel comfortable leaving their jobs. Average time-to-fill open positions has increased, and Younger emphasized that this is due to “simple supply and demand.” The healthcare sector is an example of an area with increased time-to-fill, due to increased demand for services, particularly as the baby boomers retire and experience the greater healthcare demands that come with old age.

Related: Talent acquisition in an aggressive recruiting market

The talent shortage is further exacerbated, according to Patty Silbert, Director of Innovation and Market Development at Newton Talent, a recruitment process outsourcing company based in Claysville, PA, by the vast changes that have occurred in the workplace and workforce. “Technology is evolving faster than ever before, which has changed the skills companies need and, more importantly, the lifecycle of those skills. Without the right strategies in place, companies can find themselves in a revolving door, looking for in-demand skills in a shrinking pool.”

The shrinking talent pool has not only made finding new talent more difficult, it has drastically increased the competition to attract and hire the talent available. According to Pam Verhoff, President of Advanced RPO, a recruitment process outsourcing company headquartered in Chicago, IL, “demand has driven a very competitive marketplace for talent, so our clients are competing with large sign-on bonuses, inflated salaries, and perks in excess of anything we’ve seen historically. This scenario creates yet another challenging recruiting environment.”

Related: Advice on adapting your talent acquisition strategy

The combination of fewer candidates and greater competition, Silbert adds, has made the entire recruiting process more difficult. “It takes more time and resources to find that in-demand talent than ever before. And since those with in-demand skills have more choices than ever, they need to be sold on your opportunity to even pursue it. So meeting hiring demands now hinges as much on the organization’s ability to position the opportunity as well as sources the right talent in the first place.”

Potential Solutions

As the recruiting landscape changes, the recruiting tactics and strategies that used to work have become increasingly ineffective. However, there are steps that companies can take to bring their recruiting practices up-to-date. One step is to ensure that your talent strategy is aligned with your business strategy, to make sure that everyone is contributing to the same goal. As Silbert says, “without this alignment, HR and Talent Acquisition are working against the business rather than as a part of the business.” The talent acquisition strategy also has to have a long-term goal, says Ryan Carfley, President and CEO of Personify, a Raleigh, NC recruitment process outsourcing company. “It must extend well beyond the immediate short term needs of fulfillment (or as we call the “people in seats ASAP” outlook).”

Related: Business Strategy and HR Alignment

A final recommendation from Silbert is to use career development opportunities and employer branding to incentivize candidates. She suggests that companies “foster a culture of learning with the organization and encourage employees to own their careers. Without it, you have nothing to offer the top talent you seek beyond a paycheck. The skilled talent that every organization seeks has far more choices than they’ve ever had before. Much like consumers, top talent “shops” their next career move before they even apply.”


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