Q: What are the best practices for recruiting in a tight labor market?


A: Recruiting is difficult to begin with, but doubly so in a candidate-driven market. Here are some ideas for increasing your recruiting effectiveness.

First, be ultra-clear about your requirements for tasks and your culture. People want to know what they will do and how they will live. Highlight your use of practices like telecommuting, flexible hours and others. Sharpen your employer brand: what makes you special and unique? Second, understand the gap between your current workforce and your employee competency needs in the future. This will allow you to focus recruiting.

Third, groom lower-level employees for higher-level roles. It’s cheaper and more effective to promote from within than attract from the outside. Fourth, look at your recruiting process through the eyes of candidates and make appropriate changes. How long does it take? How many hoops does a candidate need to jump through?

Fifth, use a multipronged approach that includes job boards, social media, employee referrals, your network and visits to high schools and colleges. Look for websites specific to your industry. Post information that invites candidates to engage in a conversation. Encourage candidates to contact selected current employees to learn more about you.

Sixth, segment communications about your jobs and employer brand that speak to employees in all age ranges. Use amusing visuals and upbeat language.

Seventh, if appropriate for your jobs, focus on untapped pools of talent: teenagers, people without a high school diploma, veterans, people unemployed for a long time, and people in rural areas. Your local WorkForce Center can help.

Eighth, understand the compensation trends in your industry. Out-of-touch reward programs make you look foolish to highly talent candidates. Finally, somewhere in your process, build in information about the good, bad and ugly aspects of your organization.

In today’s environment, treat candidates as customers, hire for a cultural fit while training for skills and quit knocking yourself out trying to find the perfect candidate: he/she doesn’t exist.


Michael Sheppeck is an associate professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.