Challenge Accepted: Tactics & Strategies for Hiring in a Candidate’s Job Market

The job market and the world of work have changed drastically in the last few years, leaving employers to deal with the new challenges. For example, in the U.S., there are currently more than 11 million job openings, and year-over-year wage growth was at 5.2% in May. On top of that, the Great Resignation has record numbers of workers leaving their jobs: In the last six months in the U.S., more than 4 million people left their jobs each month. And, it’s spreading across the globe; CNN reports that resignations have also jumped in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and France. 

But, employers are dealing with more than just a tight talent market, increased turnover and rising wages; the world of work has changed permanently—and so have candidate expectations. For instance, nearly two-thirds of the workforce wants some form of remote work option and nearly one-third wants hybrid work. As such, employers can’t simply plan to return to the pre-pandemic ways of doing business; instead, they must adapt. 

More precisely, to succeed in this job market, you need to both hire the best talent and retain the workers you already have—and that requires multifaceted solutions that address the specific issues within your organization. In this article, we’ll cover the potential sources of your talent challenges, some signs that they may be negatively affecting your organization and strategies you can use to get ahead.  

Is Your Employer Brand on Life Support? 

Throughout the pandemic and initial recovery, many organizations didn’t have the resources to invest in their employer brands. Unfortunately, if this was the case for your organization, it may be affecting your ability to recruit top talent. That’s because, if your employer brand is weak, qualified candidates won’t apply because they simply have other options.  

So, how can you tell if your employer brand is holding your organization back? Watch for these warning signs: 

why is there a labor shortage 2022

Solution: Rebuild Your Employer Brand 

If any of these signs look familiar, it’s time to focus on your employer brand. Luckily, there are a few things you can do. The first is to build out a strong employer value proposition (EVP) as the foundation of an employer branding campaign.  

At PeopleScout, we define your EVP as the essence of your uniqueness as an employer, as well as the give and get between you and your employees. In many ways, your EVP is the foundation of your employer brand—the perception and lived experiences of what it’s like to work for your organization.  

It’s important to note that building a strong EVP to drive your employer brand requires research into the short- and long-term goals of your organization; the reality of what it’s like to work for you right now; and the outside perception of your organization. That information is distilled into an EVP that’s unique, aspirational, authentic and dynamic. From there, you can communicate your message through an employer branding campaign via your careers site, social media campaigns, hiring events and more.  

At PeopleScout, we supported work on the employer brand at Vodafone, a telecommunications company in the UK. In this case, consumers knew the brand well as a mobile phone retailer, but didn’t see it as a multifaceted tech innovator. So, to help Vodafone hire more young workers, we worked to create an employer brand campaign that captured the spirit of change and possibility that’s part of their EVP. At the end of the project, PeopleScout had generated more than 16,000 applications and increased the number of female candidates by 23%. 

Does Your Candidate Experience Leave Much to be Desired? 

If your employer brand is in good shape, but you’re still struggling to hire qualified candidates, the next area to evaluate is your candidate experience. Candidate experience has always been important, but it’s even more critical in today’s job market. Nowadays, people have plenty of other options, so they won’t take the time to complete a long application or wait weeks for a call back.  

How can you tell if your candidate experience is the cause of your hiring woes? Look for these signs: 

Candidates accept other offers while in your recruitment process. 
You have a lot of interviews, but make few hires. 
Your process is slow and requires multiple steps for candidates.
Candidates ghost before starting

Solution: Update Your Talent Tech Stack 

The right technology can have a significant influence on your candidate experience. Candidates want the recruitment experience to be fast and easy and allow them to feel in control. For this reason, evaluate every step of the candidate journey to identify where you can make improvements with technology. 

Your first step is to look at your application. Have you tried filling out your own application recently? How long does it take to complete? Is it simple or does it feel drawn out and tedious? Can you complete the application on a mobile device? If the process takes a long time or requires a desktop computer, it’s time to update your application.  

Then, look for other points in the process where you might make things easier for candidates. Do candidates have to wait weeks to schedule a screening or interview? If so, consider adding a self-scheduling interview tool or virtual interview solution, like text interviews or on-demand interviews. Furthermore, adding something as simple as a status bar that shows candidates where they are in the process can help them stay engaged. 

At PeopleScout, we work with a large retailer that had a strong consumer brand, but still struggled to recruit candidates. Their application required a computer and took more than 30 minutes to fill out. As an alternative, we developed a mobile-first application with just 11 questions that took less than eight minutes to complete. Now, half the candidates apply on mobile devices and the application conversion rate rose to 85%. For comparison, employers using a traditional application have an average applicant conversion rate of just 35%. 

Are Your Offers Competitive Enough in the Job Market? 

Salary and benefits are the elephants in the room in any discussion about hiring challenges. Wages are rising significantly. While the average year-over-year salary growth in the U.S. is at 5.2%, some industries are experiencing even steeper wage growth. For example, in the leisure and hospitality sector, wages are up more than 11% in the last year. In fact, the World Economic Forum reports that wages are rising in every region of the world. Therefore, in the current job market, your offer needs to be competitive.  

Here are some signs that your offers may not be competitive enough: 

Candidates make it through the process, but turn down offers. 
Candidates cite salary expectations significantly higher than your budget. 
Employees who leave frequently cite increased pay. 

Solution: Adjust Your Compensation to Current Job Market Rates 

If you’re experiencing any of these warning signs, evaluate your compensation against the market and adjust where necessary. Due to remote work, the job market has changed. Now, you’re not just competing against employers in your area for talent; you’re competing for talent across the country and, in some cases, the entire world. 

To that end, an RPO or MSP provider can help advise you on market rates and what types of adjustments are needed to make your offers more competitive. Plus, increasing your wages could even save you money in the long run.  

This happened for one PeopleScout client, a major rural healthcare system. Hit hard by the ongoing nursing shortage, the healthcare organization was relying on expensive travel nurses and struggling to bring in enough candidates. PeopleScout advised the provider to implement a $10,000 hiring bonus. This resulted in a cost savings as the client was able to reduce its nursing recruitment spend by 77%, totaling more than $4 million. The client was also able to reduce its use of traveling nurses by 68% and experienced its lowest-ever nursing vacancy rate—just 1.3%. 

Does Your Company Culture Send People Running? 

Perhaps the best way to avoid staffing shortages is to ensure that you don’t have to backfill large numbers of roles due to turnover. The Great Resignation is in full swing, but employers shouldn’t just throw their hands in the air as employees leave for new jobs.  

The good news is that employee turnover isn’t just about money. Talent leaders are finding that a major driving factor is employee disengagement. Throughout the last few years, many employees have experienced negative effects on their mental health, causing burnout and driving a reevaluation of work/life balance. Conversely, company culture can play a huge role in keeping employees happy, healthy and engaged. 

Is your company culture a problem? Watch for these warning signs:  

 job market

Solution: Determine What Employees Want in the Job Market & Meet Their Needs 

To improve your company culture, you must first determine what employees feel they’re lacking from your organization. You can gather this information in two ways—and both are valuable. First, you should be conducting exit interviews with employees who have resigned. Try to get an idea of why they decided to take a new role. Is it simply increased pay? Did they feel they lacked a clear career path at your organization? Did they not feel appreciated by managers and colleagues?  

Next, try to identify problems before they drive employees to leave. You can accomplish this through anonymous pulse surveys; there are a number of tools you can use to track employee engagement and look for areas of improvement. Do employees want more opportunities for training? Do they want to feel as though they’re part of something bigger? Do they feel as though company leadership is not addressing their concerns? 

Then, once you determine the biggest pain points for employees, make targeted improvements to your company culture. You can demonstrate appreciation for your workers in tangible ways: Communicate actively and often. Define paths for advancement and look at learning and development programs. Offer more flexibility. Provide training for managers. Not only will these kinds of investments keep tenured employees from leaving, but they can also improve your employer brand and make your employment offers more competitive.  

There’s no doubt that the current talent market is difficult for employers, but the sources of the struggle are multifaceted and complex. There isn’t an easy, one-size-fits-all solution. Employers need to evaluate both the candidate and employee experience and alter their processes where inadequacies reveal themselves. You can’t keep waiting for “things to return to normal.” We’re in the new normal, and we have to adapt. To learn more, check out our ebook, “Employer Brand: Helping the Right Talent Choose You.” 

Post by Candace Lamon & Jill Polistico