9 tips for hiring in a super-tight labor market

Editorial Team

3 min read
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

There are more than 9 million jobs open in America right now. Many businesses are having trouble filling open positions. This summer, low-wage workers, in particular, have a lot of options, as all kinds of service, retail, hospitality, and construction jobs are rebounding at once.

It can be tough to hire great workers in a tight labor market, especially if you can’t afford to raise wages, as many larger employers are doing. But there are ways to make it work. Here are 9 tips for hiring in a tight labor market:

1. Jazz up your job description.

Workers have options right now. What makes your business unique? Be sure to stress opportunities for learning and advancement. Showcase your brand in your job descriptions, and highlight what you contribute to the community. The more you can make a job sound like the beginning of a meaningful career, the better.

2. Relax your requirements.

Maybe you can train a new employee instead of requiring experience. Maybe a flexible schedule would work for certain positions. Make sure you’re casting a wide net, and keep an open mind when interviewing. 

3. Think outside the box.

Consider every possibility when it comes to filling open positions. Could you hire freelancers on a project basis instead of adding a new full-time employee? Could two part-time positions become one full-time position with benefits, or vice versa? Being flexible will give you more options.

4. Overlook gaps on a resume.

In normal times, you might wonder about someone who’s been out of work for a year. But the pandemic created extraordinary circumstances. Many people had to drop out of the workforce to care for young children while schools and daycares were closed. Others were laid off and may have been slow to return to work due to health concerns. Be compassionate and keep an open mind when evaluating candidates with gaps in their resumes. 

5. Use multiple channels to recruit.

Do post your open positions on job boards, but also share your opportunities on social media, on your business’ website (create a “careers” page if you don’t already have one), and by word of mouth through your existing employees and loyal customers. 

6. Turn employees into recruiters.

Create a referral program and offer rewards for team members who bring in successful new hires. You could offer gift cards, cash, or other valuable rewards, like an extra paid vacation day, preferential scheduling, or another perk. 

7. Pitch interviewees on your business.

At times when jobs are hard to come by, you can afford to focus your interviews only on the applicant’s skills and experience. But in a tight labor market, you should devote some time to wooing the interviewee. Share the passion you bring to your business. Talk about what’s exciting about working with your team and what opportunities your new employee will enjoy.

8. Think of rejected applicants as future potential hires.

When you do reject someone for a position, be professional and courteous. And think about keeping in touch—you may have more positions to fill in the coming months, and a near-miss could be an excellent candidate.

9. Don’t be afraid to poach.

Times are tough out there! If you get great service at a local business, take a moment to ask if the person is interested in making a career move. Remember to think outside the box—someone who’s successful in a different type of business might well have transferable skills. Keep it polite and professional, give the person your business card, and hope for the best.

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