7 Cheaper, Smarter Ways to Hire in a Tight Job Market

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If you have open jobs that you can’t find people for, you’re not alone. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reports that 47% percent of small business owners said they had job openings they couldn’t fill. 

And in today’s labor market, recruiting and hiring for those empty slots can be expensive. Besides the cost of advertising jobs, there’s the time and lost productivity to find, screen, interview, and onboard a candidate. Outside recruiters can reduce some of that effort, but they charge 15 – 25% of the annual salary for their time and skills.

Here are some obvious and not-so-obvious ways to rein in those costs and build a better staff.

1. Hire the Right Person

If you think hiring someone is time-consuming and expensive, imagine what it costs to hire the wrong person. In addition to the money you spent on recruitment, you now face a host of problems, from poor productivity to lower morale and engagement. There’s also the reputational cost of hiring someone who then leaves. Or if you need to let them go.

These costs may be hard to quantify, but they’re real.

Well-prepared interviews can help prevent this. Experts recommend that you prepare your questions in advance. Include a combination of behavioral, situational, and open-ended questions. Gear every part of the discussion towards finding the skills you need and a personality that will mesh.

And while personality is important, don’t get too hung up on culture. Rarely will one interviewer’s perception of a candidate’s fit be 100% in sync with another’s. Looking for a cultural fit also complicates matters if you’re trying to build a diverse workforce. Probe instead for a personality that can adjust.”

One more thing. Yes, you want to hire the right person, but don’t get too neurotic about it. Multiple rounds of interviews and lengthy background checks can weed out stellar candidates yet add little value. Only the candidate’s immediate supervisor, the boss’s boss’s boss, and a senior HR manager or recruiter should conduct interviews.

If you structure interviews to get what you need, you can make an intelligent decision.

2. Streamline the Recruitment Process with AI and Automation Tools

In recruiting, as in any business process, streamlining saves you money. That means finding inefficiencies, improving processes, and leveraging technology to promote a smooth workflow and enhance productivity.

A streamlined recruitment process starts with a clear understanding of why you’re recruiting for the position and who the ultimate hiring authority will be. That should help you craft a clear, concise job description which, in turn, leads to a plan for sourcing and screening candidates.

Much of this is more straightforward today, thanks to technology. Software is available for every step of the recruitment process, from tracking applicants and sifting through resumes to onboarding. 

Recruitment CRM software can tell you which social media post or recruitment ad got the most clicks. Assessment software makes sure a candidate has the skills you need. And, of course, video conferencing software just about eliminates the cost of bringing candidates in for interviews.

3. Craft A Concise, Opportunity-Focused Job Description

According to LinkedIn, the best job posts focus on the opportunity. That is  job details, qualifications, and compensation (or, at least, benefits). These are what matter most to job seekers.

Be clear and concise. The average job seeker will spend at most 14 seconds with a post before deciding whether to apply. Studies show that shorter posts (1-300 words) get 8.4% more applications than average. 

One tip: while the tone of your post should reflect the culture, don’t promote it too much. Culture may be important, but it’s not the first thing people care about when looking for a job or considering one.

4. Use Traditional and Non-traditional Media to Find and Screen Candidates

Job boards will help you find actively searching candidates. But what if the best candidate for your job isn’t looking for a job? 

Consider social media. Posting the job on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter gives your opening much more visibility among potential candidates. Especially if your employees share it with their networks. Consider incentivizing them to do so.

You may have a database of former applicants’ resumes. Go through them. Someone who wasn’t right for one job may be suitable for this one. If you have digital resumes on file, software can curate them for you. In fact, that same software can screen all the resumes that come in.

Even if you’re swamped with candidates, you never sink under them.

Depending on the level of hire, you may also want to work with educational institutions and alumni networks. Junior colleges and trade schools need to build a track record in placing graduates. They may be an excellent source of ambitious, entry-level hires. You can also reach into alumni networks for senior candidates.

These sources may cost less and deliver better candidates than job boards.

5.  Leverage Employee Referrals and Incentives

Current employees could be your best source of new employees. They know people they’ve worked with who are good and might be a good fit for your company. Their referrals can yield better-quality applicants, speed up the hiring process, and bring you employees who are more likely to stay. All of which saves you money in the long run.

The most successful programs make the referral process as simple as possible. Human resource teams or hiring managers should keep the referring employee in the loop. Even if the candidate doesn’t work out, showing appreciation will keep the employee engaged.

It’s also a good idea to offer a referral bonus. Make it contingent on the new employee staying with the company for a specified time. This will encourage your employees to scour their networks for good people.

6. Promote Internal Mobility and Career Growth

New employees need time to acclimate themselves to your company. Lost productivity during that adaptation ranks among the higher hidden costs of a new hire. If you have someone on your team ready to step into those shoes, promote them.

Chances are, their replacement will cost less to recruit. Or you may have another employee who can move up into that position.

Either way, you send a message to your staff that your company offers opportunities for growth. And that can be a big motivator.

7. Foster a Strong Employer Brand and Online Presence

LinkedIn says a strong employer brand can reduce hiring costs by 50%. It can also deliver more qualified candidates for every open position and speed up the time it takes to hire. 

This makes sense. People want to work for organizations with reputations as great workplaces. 

How do you build the employer brand? suggests creating a story around the positive aspects of your company’s culture and sharing it on social media. Get employees into the act. Bonuses, gift cards, and even simple thank-you notes and emails can encourage employees to share their stories.

Incidentally, a good employer brand can also be good for other aspects of your business. Customers, vendors, and other business partners tend to like companies that are good to their employees.

A program that keeps employees loyal can keep customers loyal, too.

Bonus Employer Branding Tip: Give Your Employees a PEX Card

PEX Cards optimize the balance of goodwill and security. Employees who receive them feel trusted and empowered. A PEX card also communicates that you respect your employees’ finances; you don’t expect them to use their own money to fund company purchases and then have to wait for reimbursement.

At the same time, your employees can only use PEX cards for purchases that you approve. And when you approve them. You give employees a sense of responsibility while minimizing the risk of fraud and abuse.

And while we’re on the topic of employer branding, you can even issue PEX Cards with your own logo and design. Ask now for a demonstration.

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