Employee Selection

November 22, 2021

Mark Rader

7 Creative Ways to Find Talent in a Labor Shortage

7 Creative Ways to Find Talent in a Labor Shortage
Mark Rader

We’re all feeling the effects of shortages. Whether you’re trying to buy a car or looking to grab a Coke Zero at the grocery store, chances are you’re having a bit of trouble right now. And employers are no exception.

Many industries are struggling to hire right now. While there were 10.4 million job openings in August, the number of people quitting their jobs spiked to 4.3 million. That’s the highest “quits rate” we’ve seen since December 2000.  

As a result, we’re seeing companies seeking new employees adapt like never before. Many are paying up, giving bonuses for bus drivers and McDonalds workers, for example. But even these approaches aren‘t always enough to move the needle.

If you’re feeling stuck, here are a few creative, and hopefully inspiring, strategies to consider. 

#1 – Reach out to the growing semi-retired (and officially retired) community  

More than 3 million Americans retired early due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

This means there are skilled people out there who just aren’t interested in full-time commitment anymore, but who might still be interested in roles that require less commitment.  

To find these hidden gems, post to the AARP job board. Also, look into the “reentry,” “encore career” or “returnship” programs some major employers (like Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and MIT) have started rolling out; there may be some ideas there that could apply to your company’s needs.  

#2. Consider retail and hospitality workers looking to pivot into something new  

If you’re on the hunt for roles in fields like sales or customer support, don’t look past candidates trying to transition out of retail or hospitality work. Almost 2 in 5 workers who quit in August of this year worked in retail, restaurants, or hotels. Retailers had nearly 1 million job openings in April. That’s more than twice the number of openings from a year ago.  

Many of these workers are highly motivated, have years of customer experience, and are looking for jobs with better hours and pay. And their competencies could make them a great fit.  

On the flip side, companies struggling to hire hospitality workers might benefit from tapping into the population of remote workers who are tired of isolation and seek a job with more face-to-face human interaction.  

A few years ago, in an effort to find great people in unexpected places, the HR team at Quicken Loans performed a “blitz” of local retail stores and restaurants. They got employees to scope out the workers and give interviews to any who caught their attention by exhibiting passion, urgency, and a willingness to go the extra mile.

#3. Reach out to passive job seekers in unexpected places  

If you exclusively market your positions on Indeed, Monster, and the other major recruiting sites and wait for candidates to come to you, you’re not going to reach the 70% of candidates who are passive job seekers—those who aren’t actively looking for work but who’d be open to hearing about another position. 

One way to reach that audience is to go bigger on social media with brand messaging that highlights everything that’s good about the candidate experience you offer, your benefits, and company culture. The more actual human stories you share (as opposed to talking big about your mission statement), the more likely passive job seekers will lean in when that content pops up on their feed.  

For extra inspiration

Nielsen successfully reached new talent by sourcing at megachurches and placing ads in Spanish-language periodicals.

AE Home Group reports success in finding candidates by monitoring local subreddits for posters who show a special interest in real estate, citing a frequent poster’s involvement in their local community as a competency that helps them attract new clientele.

Also, check out Social Hire’s list of the 13 most creative recruitment campaigns they’ve ever seen.

#4.  Take advantage of remote work set-up to “relocate” existing employees to different teams   

If you’re a bigger company, chances are you have employees scattered across the country. If you’ve gone remote (and aren’t restricted by geographic location), you now have access to a bigger pool of potential existing employees.  

These employees might fit perfectly into a role they wouldn’t have been able to fill pre-remote work. For example, the senior manager in your Midwest office could be the director you need at your West Coast office. 

#5. Loosen your degree requirements 

Your degree requirements might be keeping you from finding the right candidate. Even tech giants like Tesla, Apple, Google, and Netflix no longer require a 4-year degree for many jobs that traditionally have. 

According to a recent McKinsey report, 30 million US workers have the skills necessary to earn 70% more. Replacing degree requirements with a simple list of competencies and skills desires will help you appeal to these “STARs” (workers skilled through alternative routes). 

#6. Actively recruit neurodivergent people  

Neurodivergent people make up 20% of the population, but 85% of them are unemployed. 

Stereotypes that neurodivergent people are less intelligent or less capable may be keeping you from hiring candidates with valuable skills and unique perspectives. The truth of the matter is that there’s no link between intelligence and neurodiversity. Plus, according to findings from Ernst & Young, neurodiverse employees tend to make fewer errors and are 90-140% more productive than neurotypical employees.  

The number of companies reforming their HR processes to access neurodiverse talent is growing. SAP has been running a program for neurodivergent talent for 4 years, and they’ve noted productivity gains, quality improvement, boosts in innovative capabilities, and major increases in employee engagement.  

SAP, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and EY make up the four largest US autism hiring programs. Each program has a retention rate of over 90%. That’s higher than the average retention rate in their industries, and putting retention first is a great way to bypass hiring struggles during the labor shortage. 

#7 Actively recruit people with disabilities 

As of August 2021, people with disabilities face an 11% unemployment rate, more than double the national average.  

What makes this especially perplexing is that, according to a recent Accenture study, companies that actively hire people with disabilities outperform their counterparts 2 to 1 in net income. And if you value customer loyalty, you’ll be pleased to know that a Department of Labor study actually found that companies that hire people with disabilities see a 90% improvement in retention rate. 

If you’re struggling to find the right people for your open roles, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate how limiting your job criteria is, how narrow your sourcing strategy might be, and to finally tap into the many pools of high-potential nontraditional talent available right now.

To get more practical tips not just on sourcing nontraditional talent, but to also gauge their potential for success, sign up to watch our on-demand SHRM webinar, The Top Talent Hiding in Plain Sight: How to Source, Evaluate and Hire the Amazing “Nontraditional” Candidates Your Competitors Ignore. (97% of attendees said it was helpful; 82% said it was very helpful.)

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