HH Happenings

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3 “Must Haves” in Today’s Ultra-Competitive Labor Market to Hire the Best Employees

Caprice Crane, one of the hottest modern writers, said “Dating is like pushing your tray along in a cafeteria. Nothing looks good, but you know you have to pick something by the time you reach the cashier.”

Recruiting is a lot like dating. You have goals and ideas about the kind of person you want on your team. In a call or relatively quick meeting, over a conversation, you must decide whether you want this person to be involved in your work life. And just like dating, there are some people that you look back on and think- well that didn’t turn out like I would have hoped that it would. It is an incredibly strong economy right now and it can seem like all the good candidates are taken. However, this is not correct. There are still plenty of great people that are looking for work. So how do you make sure that you are getting the best person for the job?

I will tell you but let me qualify this answer first.

This power shift to the workforce has happened before. Although we have a 40 -year low unemployment rate (and predictions on it going lower), the economy was gangbusters as well during what is coined as the Dot Com boom era of the late 1990’s and early 2000. This was when the Internet really started being adopted by society. The soaring prices of Internet start-ups encouraged investors to pour more money into any company with a “.com” or an “e-something” in its business plan. During this time, I was leading the Talent Acquisition (TA) Team for Charles Schwab in San Francisco. Everyone wanted in on this idea of becoming an overnight millionaire and many people eschewed the idea of working for a “traditional workplace”. So, my TA Team and I had to shift our mindset and tactics. We were one of the few fortune 500 companies that continued to have strong employment and retention during this time.

We were winning the hiring game at Charles Schwab by having an incredibly strong and unique sourcing strategy.  We had a High School recruitment program called School-to-Careers that provided high school internships, a Direct Hire program called WINGS for newly graduated undergraduates, an MBA Program called MAPS for newly graduated MBA’s and an Alumni Program simply called Schwab Alumni Network (SAN) for former “Schwabbies” who were “gainfully” retired but wanted to work part time to have something to do. All of these programs augmented our daily recruiting activities that we used to hire experienced hires and executives. It was one hell of a recruiting machine because we needed this type of recruiting machine to keep up with the demand, just like every business owner and Fortune 500 company needs their own version of a recruiting machine to keep up the demands in today’s employment market place.

The following 3 Must Have’s were needed back in the Dot Com days to win the recruiting game and are certainly every bit as important today.

Here are the 3 Must Have’s to win the hiring game in today’s labor market:

  1. Investment in Technology and Business Relationships: At Charles Schwab we invested heavily in recruitment technology and we had the very best Applicant Tracking System (ATS) at that time (i.e., Icarian) and the smartest people in the HR Function to run this technology. Today’s recruitment technology has evolved well beyond the server based technology of days gone by but you still have to have the best technology and your smartest people running this technology. The small business owners of today also need to use the best available recruitment technology (i.e., job boards, social media recruiting, etc.) to hire the best candidates in the marketplace. Small business owners also need to go one step further than just invest in technology but they absolutely need to invest in great relationships with the right recruitment partners (i.e., Staffing Agencies) who understand and are truly committed to each client’s success. What makes any partnership successful? Going back to the dating analogy- listening, mutual goals, respect, chemistry. Find a staffing partner that understands your business, your challenges, your environment and frankly, someone you like and trust. Here at HH Staffing, I have different levels of relationships with my business resources. Some of them are vendors- transactional and necessary and some are partners- people I work with who are truly vested in my success and that I trust their counsel and expertise. You want a staffing partner, not a staffing vendor. 
  1. Contemporary Sourcing and Hiring Strategies: I mentioned above the sourcing strategies that we used at Charles Schwab to hire the best talent. What’s your sourcing strategies? Do you have one (many)? Is it working? Do your staffing partners understand your sourcing strategies enough to augment or even add value to your current sourcing strategies or are they doing the same thing that you are doing but just more of it? In today’s marketplace, I cannot advocate strongly enough that companies Rent to Buy as a hiring strategy (i.e., Temporary to Permanent Placement) where possible. If your company has an incredibly strong value proposition, many candidates will take a career risk with your company and take a temp to perm assignment. If you can’t get candidates to come on in a temporary capacity for a period of time, or even a probationary period, then I would take a hard look at your hiring practices and be prepared to quickly take bold action on hiring mistakes because it’s going to happen no matter how diligent your screening processes are. Great performing companies like Netflix will actually pay underperforming employees to leave their company and Netflix makes that decision quickly, they don’t carry under performers very long. Get your sourcing and hiring strategies freshen up is the point here or your positions will continue to go unfilled, you’ll burn your current staff out and then be worst off from a workforce productivity standpoint then if you just update your sourcing and hiring strategies. Be Bold!
  1. Love ‘em or Leave ‘em: We work in a “Glass House” these days. Thank (or not) Glassdoor for this phenomenon and I for one, am very thankful that Glassdoor has become what is today. Back in 2008 when I first heard of this social site coming online I just didn’t think that their value proposition was going to be relevant enough to be adopted by the modern day workplace. Well, that 3 million dollar funding that its founders received in 2006 turned into a 1.2 billion dollar all cash sale to Recruit Holdings in June of this year. Their relevancy can no longer be questioned and so working in this glasshouse environment today requires all companies, big and small, to actively manage their employment brand. If you have hired great employees, then congratulations! Love them dearly and encourage them to tell their friends, family and their entire network about what a great workplace environment that you have provided for them. If you got it wrong, and many of us will get it wrong in this labor market, and if you can’t turn that marginal hire into a super performer, then you just have to separate ways as they will hold your team back, suck time out of your day managing them and hurt your employment brand in the process by posting unkind comments on social media sites like Glassdoor. The aggravation and impact to your employment brand just isn’t worth it. Point is, even if you have great technology, relationships and contemporary sourcing and hiring strategies but your employment brand is average, then you are going to get average candidates and too many average candidates equals too many marginal to bad hires and too many bad hires means lousy business results.

Bringing it all together now, this tight labor market is not going to break any time soon so companies big and small need to evolve their approach in their hiring efforts to include their constant and continual investment in recruitment technology and business relationships, evolve their sourcing and hiring strategies and most of all, actively manage their employment brand in order to win the employment game in today’s ultra-competitive labor market. Great candidates and even greater future employees for your company are out there in this tight labor market so try these three things to improve your hiring success and subsequent business results.

Until Next Time,
Your Staffing Partner, Darrin Rohr- President, CEO and Chief Servant

Darrin RohrCurrent owner of HH Staffing and Former Chief HR Officer for several successful Multinational Fortune 500 Companies. Brings fresh perspective from decades of experiences creating Great Workplace Cultures by building high performance teams while leading and managing people from all different backgrounds. HH Staffing is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida and is uniquely positioned to serve both local and national clients.