Better, Faster, Stronger Hiring Needed in a Tight Labor Market


The talent shortage is a pressing concern for organizations and business leaders, and the situation is unlikely to ease anytime soon. How can companies emerge victorious in the war for talent?

This kind of hiring environment calls for a revamp of the hiring process, according to Gary Burnison, CEO of executive search firm Korn Ferry.

“A tight labor market continually raises the stakes for employers. The advantage is clearly more towards the employee,” Burnison told Bloomberg Law.

Not only is it becoming more difficult to find talent to hire, but wages are also on the rise, according to surveys such as the Trendsetter Barometer from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“We’ve seen a steady improvement in the economy. It seems that companies are opening up their wallets to support the expectations on the hiring front,” said Ken Esch, Private Company Services, Trendsetter Barometer Leader at PwC.

Economic growth has created jobs for most of the people in the labor pool, Esch told Bloomberg Law. “We soaked up all those jobs that were lost. Now it’s about pulling people off the bench and into the labor pool,” he said.

Focusing on the Human Element

To counter the abundance of technology in today’s world, “we need our people to bring the human skills of creativity and thinking outside the box,” said Derek Irvine, vice president of Client Strategy and Consulting at employee recognition company Globoforce.

A recent survey from Globoforce and the Society for Human Resource Management found that a human-centered approach fared better in meeting recruiting and retention goals for organizations.

“Now, you bring your full self to work. There’s been a definite shift. Workplaces are for connecting and brain storming, and making workplaces more human allows people to bring their very best selves to work,” Irvine said.

Creative Approaches to Hiring

With unemployment rates as low as they are, the talent war has reached “a fever pitch,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. To adapt, organizations are altering their approaches to hiring, according to a Robert Half survey.

In some cases, employers might focus on “must-have” skills rather than those that are nice to have, and then revise a job description to include 75 percent or 80 percent of what it previously contained. “That’s the creativity we’re seeing now,” McDonald told Bloomberg Law.

Instead of seeking the mythological perfect candidate, companies are hiring people with potential and then providing them with the training to fit the job description, he added.

“Successful, savvy companies can fill their jobs; they look for a cultural fit and if that person has soft skills. They are training new hires as they come in, to give them what they need. Maybe they don’t know SAP or Oracle, but have the aptitude and they’re willing to learn,” he said.

Good Fit Is ‘Real Magic’

Workforce mobility has increased over the years, and because the expense associated with hiring new workers and getting them up to speed equals approximately three times annual compensation, it’s a trend that’s expensive for employers, said Korn Ferry’s Burnison, who recently wrote a book about the job-search process.

“You need to try to hire differently. The real magic is finding people who will fit with your organization,” he said.

The resume is one source of information, but employers can also assess candidates using other tools, such as written tests and gamification. An interview is particularly valuable if done skillfully, with questions revealing how that person thinks. The added information beyond the resume provides a bigger picture of whether a candidate is right for the job, Burnison said.

Hire Slow, Hire Right

Even with a pressing need for talent, organizations should not rush the process, according to Dave Ramsey, a best-selling author on financial issues, radio host of The Dave Ramsey Show, and founder of Ramsey Solutions.

“Because if you’re not careful, you’ll be filling that same job six months later. You have to be willing to wait for the right person—one who shares your values, work ethic, and the company’s mission. You don’t want employees; you want team members. And the process of adding team members requires you to slow down the hiring process,” Ramsey told Bloomberg Law.

Companies need to define the position in detail and what winning traits they want, he added. “What are the key touchstones that will make you, the leader, thrilled you hired them? We’ve learned from our mistakes in this area. We’ve hired people in the past who quit when they came on board after discovering what the job really was. Don’t do that,” Ramsey said.

It’s counter intuitive, but it actually takes less time to go through a lengthy hiring process than it does to rehire the position three times because you rushed your hiring, he added. “Twenty-five years in business has taught us that the person hired properly, and slowly, performs better and is more likely to stay,” Ramsey said.


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