Struggling to find good candidates in a tough job market?

    If you are feeling the pain of trying to find qualified candidates in a tight labor market, you are not alone. Our team has heard from countless clients across multiple industries and regions that are struggling to find the employees they need. The unemployment rate is holding at a record low of 4.1% according to the latest data from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a limited number of qualified applicants, we recommend employers take a creative approach to recruiting. It would also be wise to take another look at retention efforts.

    In order to help get you started; the HR professionals on our risk management team huddled to discuss techniques that we have seen work for other employers.  We put together the following list of ideas that may help you meet the challenges of hiring in the current job market:

    1. Offer (or increase) referral bonuses for employees who refer a successful hire. Add a subsequent bonus if that new hire remains with the company for a year (or however long you set).
    2. Form a committee of workers from across all levels to discuss how your organization can attract new employees.
    3. Carefully review your compensation plan. Make sure the wages you offer are competitive, meeting or exceeding the market rate.
    4. Consider hiring less qualified candidates with potential and then training them in the skills they are lacking.
    5. Look at adding benefits such as short-term disability, life insurance or retirement planning. If you can’t afford more group benefits, call in vendors to offer supplemental benefits.
    6. Offer flexible scheduling, if possible. This is especially important to younger applicants and employees.
    7. Keep a close eye on industry news feeds. Watch for regional layoffs for similar employers in your area. You can target those newly unemployed, skilled workers.
    8. Visit the chamber of commerce and include a small gift in the welcome baskets given to new residents.  Be sure it includes your hiring information.
    9. Have an open house for the community. Put up the “now hiring” signs in the lobby and give tours of areas that can be seen by the public. Offer interviews on the spot.
    10. Put a sign in the most popular places around town that says something like “HERE WE GROW AGAIN!” This way you do not come across as desperate for help, but as a growing company.
    11. Don’t forget about social media. Post openings on your own pages and ask employees to spread the word by sharing it on their pages. Ask trade schools to post your opening on their pages, too.
    12. Consider using temporary help to fill an opening. This will take the time pressure off your recruiter and may even lead to a long-term employee.
    13. Rent a kiosk in the mall to educate the community about your company.
    14. Ask current employees to consider posting an employer review on sites like Glass Door.
    15. Think about rehiring people who have left.
    16. Reach out to vocational schools. Talk to the students who will be graduating this year and not moving onto college.
    17. Organize or participate in a job fair.

    Reducing turnover:  Attracting and hiring the right candidate is just the first step. If you can’t keep that new employee, you will be right back to the hiring starting line. Retention of your best employees is essential to keep your operations running at optimal speed.  It will also save you thousands of dollars since turnover can cost up to 200% of an employee’s annual pay, depending on the role.

    Consider these ideas to further boost your retention rates:

    • Develop compensation pamphlets to show people what they really make after all the tax and benefits are paid. This will allow employees to compare apples to apples if they are considering employment at a company offering a few more cents per hour.
    • Instead of conducting exit interviews, meet with current employees and ask them why they stay.  (Watch our blog for more details about “Stay Interviews” coming soon.)
    • Along the same lines, you can conduct an employee engagement survey to find out what your employees like and what they don’t like about working for your organization.
    • Coach supervisors and managers to become more effective and approachable leaders. Train them on communications and management skills to help them engage with their teams.
    • Offer clear career paths, if possible, by promoting from within. Professional development could include reimbursement for outside training and educational opportunities that will help them develop skills in their field. They gain skills and you gain a more skilled workforce.
    • Consider offering bonuses including gain sharing or profit sharing.
    • Strengthen your onboarding process.

    For even more ideas to help you attract and keep good employees, see the following articles posted on