After feeling hesitant to change jobs during the pandemic, workers are now leaving their jobs in droves—which means many companies are urgently trying to backfill positions with new talent, and possibly hiring for brand-new positions as well.
While it’s only natural to feel some FOMO in this unique hiring environment, companies that move too quickly will regret it later. Heading into this new era of work, it's important to work quickly, but also carefully and strategically—by identifying who the candidates flooding the job market are, what they care about, and how you can best get them to apply, accept an offer, and stick around a while.
Here are 9 proven ways to increase your odds of making quality, long-term hires in this strange new moment in the job market.
#1 – Take a fresh look at your job descriptions
Just because a job description has worked in the past doesn’t mean you should use it as is—and this is especially true now.
With so many positions available, candidates’ preferences changing, and jobseekers embarking on new career paths, it's possible the ideal skill set for the role you’re hiring for has changed, too.
To make sure your postings capture the real, on-the-ground competencies needed to succeed in a role, consider conducting a fresh job analysis of your some of your most critical open roles, with counsel from the hiring manager and their team—and, if possible, an I-O consultant.
Make sure ideal competencies are emphasized as much, if not more, than required years’ experience and education. As we all know, just because a candidate has experience in a field doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily been successful in that field.
"Knowing who you’re looking for starts with knowing what you’ll need them to do. Taking a close look at the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for success helps ensure that as your roles and workplace evolve, you’ll be able to identify the candidates most likely to succeed, whether they have directly related experience or they’re looking to try something new."—Kati Lechner, Organizational Learning & Development Manager, Wonderlic
#2 – Update your brand messaging to reflect changes to policies and benefits
Many employees understand they’re in a candidate’s market. So they expect better benefits and more flexibility when it comes to when and how they work than they did pre-pandemic. To make sure you’re responding to these needs and concerns, update your company website, social media pages, and the boilerplate copy you use to describe your company in all presentations and job ads.
(Per Forbes, there are five work-life benefits in particular increasing in popularity right now: family benefits, home office expenses, mental health benefits*, remote and flexible work, and employee resource groups.)
* LinkedIn notes mental health benefits can include subscriptions to meditation/self-improvement apps like Headspace.
For more ideas on how to adjust your benefits and policies to meet the needs of post-pandemic job seekers, check out our new hiring and strategy guide.
#3 – Reimagine your sourcing pool
According to the Associated Press, the extended break from normal we all experienced last year has led many workers to reevaluate their career choices.
Many who were laid off or who felt too scared to leave their position with the world on fire realized they didn’t actually love what they were doing—and decided to pursue something new. Others who were freelancing or who took a hiatus to care for their kids are now back on the market, looking for full-time work.
Finding and hiring these less traditional candidates will require more than posting a few ads on Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn and calling it a day.
A few other venues to look into are:
Google Job Search
If you’re wondering where to post jobs, consider that 73 percent of candidates begin their job hunt with Google. Google Job Search is an ideal platform for reaching candidates before they even progress to the job board.
Adding your voice to conversational community networking sites like Reddit will help you find active and passive jobseekers.
To reach early career candidates, try WayUp, a job board for college students and recent grads.
Also, consider expanding your recruiting into colleges and trade schools you might not have dealt with before and setting up social media “get the word out” campaigns targeted to specific subgroups of candidates.
#4 - Supercharge your referral program
With the exponential rise of remote workplaces, the number of viable job candidates your employees know personally has grown exponentially, too—especially now that so many people are either leaving or thinking about leaving their jobs.
Leveraging your employees’ internal connections through a referral program can help you get in front of these kinds of candidates early on in their job hunt.
To encourage engagement with the program, consider bumping up your referral bonus, too.
"Just in the past month, we’ve relaunched our employee referral program to encourage more of our employees to tap their networks. Referrals often are more productive and stay longer than a traditional applicant. With the state of the market right now, we know just how valuable a good referral can be.”—Jen Weinberg, Human Resources Manager, Wonderlic
#5 - Create a mobile-first application experience
Did you know that more than 90 percent of jobseekers look for their next role on their phones? Since our phones go everywhere with us, a mobile-first experience for job applications is a must. If applying by smartphone is frustrating, candidates will bail and never look back—especially in this candidate-friendly environment.
- Evaluate the ATS you’re using. Are you making candidates re-enter information that’s already on their resumes? (Don’t do this.) How much time does it take to complete the process?
- Make it easier for phone users to digest information quickly. Use conversational language and short paragraphs. And make things scannable with sub-headers and bulleted lists.
- Lastly, consider including short testimonials from employees talking about their positive experience at your company somewhere on your careers page to help motivate visitors to follow through on applying.
#6 - Use valid, reliable, pre-employment assessments
No matter how many applications you’re receiving, adding a valid, reliable pre-employment assessment to your process can help screen out poor fits quickly, freeing you up to focus on your best candidates.
Resumes, referrals, and interviews are all integral parts of the hiring process, but multi-measure tests provide a unique layer of objective data that directly applies to the candidate’s on-the-job performance.
And if you're concerned that adding an assessment to your process will turn away applicants who want to apply as quickly as possible, consider two things:
- First, any applicant who‘s serious about the role will happily take an assessment; those who refuse probably weren’t that interested in the first place.
- Second, assessments are viewed favorably by candidates; in other words, they can enhance their candidate experience. Recent studies show that applicants like having the chance to demonstrate what they're capable of, and longer tests that take between 10 and 30 minutes to complete are viewed as fairer and more useful than tests taking less than 10 minutes.
"Using hiring assessments in this uniquely tight labor market helps you quickly spot those ‘diamond in the rough’ non-traditional candidates with high potential. Also, it shows your current team that quality is still a priority in hiring, which will help keep employee engagement and team morale high."—Jessica Haig, Senior Manager of Consulting, Wonderlic
#7 - Show don’t tell, that you’re focusing on DE&I
Per The Washington Post, 76 percent of employees want to work in a diverse workplace. Millennials and Gen Z are especially focused on making sure the workplaces they’re about to join are committed to DE&I.
So what can you do to make your hiring process more equitable—and your company more attractive, to boot?
First, start with blind hiring. Remove information fields like name, gender, address, and more to strictly review data pertinent to the role at hand. Why? According to a landmark study by Bertrand and Mullainathan, resumes with Black-sounding names experience a 50% callback gap compared to White-sounding names.
Also, use structured interviews during which hiring teams ask candidates the same questions in the same order, and give objective feedback in real time. Even better: in these interviews, ask situational questions (“how would you approach this challenge if it arose?”) as opposed to behavioral questions (“how did you handle this challenge in a previous role?”).
Why? Focusing on related past experience tends to favor those who had access to opportunities that others didn’t. Also, when you ask people to describe a time in which they faced a certain situation and they haven’t actually faced that situation or can’t remember a good example, you often end up with responses that feel jimmy-rigged and ultimately unhelpful.
By posing a "what if?” question tailored for the role itself, instead, you’re assured of getting more precise and useful feedback.
#8 – Consider freelancers and contract workers
If you’re struggling to fill open full-time roles, you're likely feeling pressure (either self-imposed of from leadership) to hire quickly. One way to solve the problem is to change the parameters of the job to include freelance or contract workers who now make up 12 percent of the U.S. workforce.
While it’s common to hire contract workers for short-term projects, it can also be beneficial to your organization to partner for the long-term, too. And if you do decide to bring on these workers full-time, you won’t need to spend as much time training them, since they'll already be acquainted with the work and your company culture.
#9 - Try to take the long view
With so many open roles to fill and a ton of employees quitting their jobs, it can be easy to get caught up in the urgency of immediate hiring needs. But when you move too quickly, you risk hiring people who aren’t a good long-term fit. Couple this with remote work, which has given candidates more options and made switching roles a less complicated process, and you’re running the risk of high turnover.
Estimates of the cost of turnover range between tens of thousands of dollars to double a worker’s salary. So while the need to backfill open roles can feel dire right now, try to view it for the long-term, not the short-term. How will your recruiting team feel about hiring decisions today, in three months, six months, or a year?
Despite the fears you might have about meeting your staffing needs, rushing to fill vacancies is a losing game. Pause long enough to adjust for the moment and vet candidates just as carefully now as you normally would, and you’ll be set up for both short-term and long-term success.