Dealing with the War for Talent
by Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner, Wray Executive Search
The challenges of finding job candidates over the past decade are well-known — the War for Talent has lasted so long it’s become a platitude. But what are the reasons behind this immense and seemingly intractable issue? What’s causing the incredible shrinking labor pool? And more importantly, how can employers create an effective, cost-efficient and sustainable talent acquisition strategy that overcomes their labor hurdles and keeps them operating at full capacity?
The US has added jobs for 104 consecutive months — the longest streak on record — according to the Department of Labor. With the U.S. economy continuing to outperform expectations, employers are still adding jobs at a steady clip.
For white-collar jobs, the hiring outlook for 2019 is even hotter. Employers surveyed in a recent study by Michigan State’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute, expect to recruit 13 percent more bachelor’s degree graduates during the upcoming school year compared with last year, creating the ninth consecutive year of steady hiring expansion. “It’s the longest sustained period of growth for the college labor market since 1970, since we’ve been tracking it,” says Phil Gardner, the study’s author and director.
It’s clear that the volume of new job openings and record low unemployment rates have made hiring an issue for many employers. However, there are ways to address the trend. Here are a few strategic ways employers can make sure they have enough workers to sustain their business:
Ensure market-rate wages – After a long period of generally tepid growth in wages, notes Staffing Industry Analysts, “there is a palpable anticipation that continued robust growth in employment will eventually drive wages, as remaining slack in the labor market is removed.”
Perhaps that’s why more than three-quarters of HR managers in 2018 said they are feeling pressure to pay workers more, as more jobs are created and competition for quality workers intensifies. Most candidates, not surprisingly, agree with this strategy. A recent candidate survey noted that 76 percent cited good pay/compensation as their top criteria for accepting a job.
Passive job seekers — workers who are already employed — seem equally motivated by increased wages. A 2018 CareerBuilder survey found that pay was a reason cited by more than 75 percent of full-time workers either actively looking or open to new opportunities:
50 percent are doing so because they want a higher salary
59 percent say a higher base salary would make them consider a new opportunity
13 percent of employees would leave their current job for a raise in pay
Prioritize your job descriptions – In a recent trend that’s been called degree inflation or “credential creep,” some employers have begun raising their minimum job requirements to higher levels than in the past. They’re requiring college degrees for positions formerly held by high school graduates and demanding experience for positions that once welcomed entry-level employees. Or they’re insisting that candidates have years of work history doing the same job in the same field to be considered.
Given today’s tight talent pool, it’s a good idea to take a fresh look at where you draw the line between your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves” when you’re screening applicants for a new job especially if speed of hire is important. Cast a wider net.
As the stats on the shift of jobs from manufacturing to restaurants/retail shows, your fiercest competition for available talent might not be in the same business, or even the same industry, as your company. Make sure your competitor research draws from different industries fishing in the same talent pool, then develop a strategy to deal with them individually when it comes to acquiring talent.
The Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report recently found that job candidates want three primary things from a hiring company:
- A clear understanding of the company culture
- Insight into the employee experience
- A sense of connection with the employer brand
The way a company presents its culture, workplace and brand is an increasingly crucial component of an effective talent acquisition strategy. A positive brand that accurately represents and promotes your company culture and employee value proposition can help increase your candidate pool and keep your staffing pipeline full.
Employ specialized, competitive recruiting – Employers need to be extremely resourceful and proactive to find the best candidates in this talent landscape and should leverage partnerships wherever possible. While hiring managers have expertise in sourcing and recruiting, they may not have the deep understanding of the hard skills necessary, nor the access to organizations and groups that niche workers often belong to. The best recruiters and hiring managers have a good grasp of the skill sets and company needs so they can have an educated conversation with candidates. Don’t expect your online job postings to do all the heavy lifting, recruiting needs a personal touch.
A recent Hay Group study has found that employers may be missing key tools for talent attraction and retention. The most common ways employers were making their company attractive are promoting company culture (48%) and competitive salary packages (43%). Asked about competition for talent, employers cited companies that can pay more as the biggest threat, and said salary was the biggest motivator for employees leaving. However, when individuals were asked why they left their last job, just one in five said salary was the main reason. The most common reason given was career progression, indicating that by focusing on compensation and culture employers may be missing the opportunity to promote career growth opportunities internally and externally to better find and secure candidates.
All the best,
Bob Gershberg |CEO|Managing Partner|
(888) 875-9993 ext 102
Finding tomorrow’s leaders today!
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to Wray Executive Search Executive Connection. Our monthly publication includes industry news, executive movements and thought-provoking articles.