Where have all the candidates gone?

This question is high on the minds of many employers and recruiters in the current white-hot candidate-driven market. Nationally, the unemployment rate is at historic lows, and Texas is no different. The state’s job growth continued through the second quarter at a robust pace with the energy, manufacturing and construction sectors leading the surge. According to the latest statistics from the Dallas Fed, the 2018 Texas employment forecast is significantly above 2017 job growth.  Based on this data, the shift to a candidate-driven market shouldn’t come as a surprise, but that is little comfort to employers who are struggling to fill positions with qualified candidates.

Aside from the improved economy, several factors have contributed to the shift in candidate behavior.  First and foremost, leading employers are doing a better job of training, developing and retaining their employees with innovative and agile methodologies. Companies are also keeping their employees busy, so talented candidates don’t have time to look for new opportunities. Many candidates are wary about the stability of this current boom. Those who had to hop jobs or take pay cuts during the recession have not forgotten that anxiety, and don’t want to fall victim to “last in, first out” if the economy dips again. Sectors such as construction and energy see a shortage of talent because workers fled the industry and didn’t return. Furthermore, enough new workers didn’t enter those fields for several years, creating a dead zone of mid-level talent.

While no advice exists to procure talent out of thin air, here are five things that employers can do to attract the talent in a tight candidate-driven market:

Polish the Company’s Employment Brand

A company’s Employment Brand is the perception of what it’s like to work for that organization. Ask anyone what it’s like to work at Google, and you will probably hear terms like “innovative, cool, and creative.” Savvy companies have crafted their employment brand as carefully as their corporate brand to attract the very best talent. The employment brand encompasses characteristics like corporate culture, work environment, benefits, community involvement and even the candidate experience. Companies should identify positive aspects of their employment brand and actively promote them through social media, company websites, recruiting campaigns and any other platform that potential candidates might visit.

Focus on quality over quantity

In past years, posting an employment and could bring an avalanche of qualified resumes and responses. Many recruiters and hiring managers implemented formal or informal policies of interviewing a minimum number of candidates for each position, just in case there was “someone better out there.” In the 2018 market, this approach will lead to missed opportunities to secure scarce talent. If a recruiting campaign produces one qualified candidate, don’t wait for three more to appear!

Create a good Candidate Experience

The Candidate Experience is how workers perceive an organization’s recruiting, interview, hiring, and onboarding process. A good candidate experience strategically optimizes all of the steps in the hiring process to create a favorable impression on the potential hire. Is the application process simple and straightforward, or does it require lengthy and tedious steps to proceed to the next level? Do candidates receive a personal reply or does their application disappear into a black hole for weeks? Even the unpleasant step of turning down a candidate should be part of the strategy. Those who interviewed but won’t receive an offer will have a more positive perception if they receive a personal call and some useful feedback.

Make a competitive First Offer

When a position becomes available, don’t assume that the existing pay and benefits package will be enough to attract a new hire.  Examine national and local market data for the position and update the salary range to remain competitive. Pay close attention to trends in benefits packages and perks as well. A candidate considering two similar salaries may make a decision based on incentives such as flexible work hours, paid gym memberships or continuing education.

Accelerate the Selection Process

In today’s fast-paced world, expecting a qualified candidate to remain available for weeks virtually guarantees that they will be gone by the time you get around to making an offer. Examine your organization’s selection process and remove redundancies like multiple layers of approval or asking the candidate to return for several rounds of interviews. If necessary, utilize technology such as video conferencing to conduct subsequent interviews. Empower managers to make decisions on the spot if the right candidate is found.

The professionals at The Daniel Group are ready to help your organization.  We qualify the best and brightest candidates that will fit into your organization’s culture, and we stand behind our work with a One-Year Replacement Guarantee.

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