In late 2018, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest since 1969, according to the Associated Press. As these almost negligible numbers occur cyclically, the situation can be great for employees, but challenging for employers who need new workers: There simply aren’t as many people looking for jobs.
When job seeker numbers are low it doesn’t mean you can’t find and recruit the employees you need to meet your organization’s goals. Consider these five ideas for sourcing strong candidates in a competitive market.
1. Start an internship program to nurture relationships with new grads or almost-grads.
Internship programs can be great ways to build goodwill with educational institutions, and students in your area—while also being an ideal vehicle for potential recruiting. 57% of companies say the primary purpose of internship programs is to develop talent for full-time employment, according to a survey by Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute.
If you don’t have an internship program in place, start by connecting with the career services departments at local colleges and universities, and building relationships with professors in departments from which you’d be likely to hire students. If your organization needs workers in positions that don’t require college degrees, build relationships with counselors and career tech leaders at local high schools.
When you launch an internship program, be sure to develop clear learning objectives and expectations for your interns and their supervisors. Especially if the interns will be unpaid, it’s crucial to ensure they receive a valuable educational experience. Once the experience is complete, you’ll be able to decide whether the intern would make a good fit as a long-term employee.
2. Make sure your benefit offerings are modern.
Today’s workers want more than the opportunity to contribute to a 401(k). Employees at various ages and stages value different benefits: Younger workers may value student loan repayment assistance, while those caring for children may value on-site or discounted childcare options. A modern mix of voluntary benefits, which provide choices for employees, can be powerful for recruiting new workers.
Some employers may worry that too many choices will overwhelm employees, but others say today’s employees are ready for the selection. For example, Walgreens works to offer a variety of benefit choices for its employees, Tom Sondergeld, vice president for global benefits and mobility, told the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). If employees are able to choose among 50 TV brands when they go into a store or shop online, “they can be consumers when it comes to making choices about benefit coverage” when given benefit comparison and self-assessment tools, he said.
3. Offer incentives for current employees who refer good candidates.
Your current employees have an inside view of your company’s culture and the type of people who would make a good fit. Why not look to them for help in recruiting your next hire? Many companies offer financial incentives (such as $100 or $1,000) for employees who refer a new hire. If you don’t want to offer cash, consider giving employees a few extra paid days off for successful employee referrals—or ask your employees what type of incentive is most valuable to them.
For instance, Google gives employees a trip to Hawaii when they refer a new hire. Software company Digital Ocean gives them a cash incentive, as well as a donation to the charity of their choice. Distillery, another software company, gives employees a new gadget such as the latest iPhone or Apple Watch when they refer a friend who is ultimately hired.
4. Offer flexible hours or part-time positions.
Some talented workers opt out of the workforce because they want more flexibility to raise children, care for aging parents or participate in other activities. They may be willing to work for your company if they can do so without relinquishing that flexibility. For instance, a parent with a new baby may be interested in working three days in the office and two days at home, or in a job-sharing arrangement that allows two different people to share one job.
While office jobs may allow for work-from-home flexibility, manufacturing and other types of work don’t accommodate telecommuting. In those cases, creative ways to offer flexibility are in order. “We look at how flexibility can help meet an employee's need for development, whether that's a job-share program, or a part-time schedule so they can continue their education, or even being able to work another job, all in order to grow and evolve their skills,” Michael Cox, global head of talent at aerospace company Boeing, told SHRM.
5. Leverage social marketing tools.
Social media tools such as LinkedIn can be ideal for helping you find potential candidates with ties to your area. For instance, if your local talent pool is especially small, consider all the people who grew up in your town and may relish an opportunity to move back home. Find them via LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media tools. While they may not be actively looking for a new job, they may be interested in an opportunity in their hometown.
Also, harness LinkedIn to build a strong employer brand, publishing information about what it’s like to work for your company, along with photos and videos of employees at work or enjoying fun times together.
You can also use LinkedIn, Glassdoor and job search sites to get a handle on your competition and the types of benefits and culture they’re offering employees. Leverage that understanding to show potential applicants how your organization’s benefits package and workplace environment stack up against the competition.
Finding the right new employees may be more difficult in the current environment, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Use these strategies to source the new hires you need and keep meeting your recruiting goals even in a labor shortage.
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