Do you have roles that have been sitting open for months upon months? While some of it might be due to labor shortages, your hiring practices, compensation/benefits, and unrealistic candidate expectations are likely a bigger part of the problem.

Here are six solutions to help you evaluate what you might be doing wrong, and how to change your hiring practices for the better.

Loosen Your Role Requirements, Keep Only What is Necessary

Writing job descriptions is time-consuming and a pain. All too often we use old job descriptions saved in a file from over 5 years ago or we use whatever HR sends over. But it is likely the job has evolved, or perhaps even simplified in that time.

Review the Job Description and Ask Yourself:

  • How many skills are listed as “required”?
    • Could it be overwhelming to candidates?
    • Are they actually required or more like “nice-to-have” skills?
    • Can someone be successful without a few of them? If so, which ones?
  • How many of the skills or technology requirements listed account for 5% or less of the job?
    • Could those be listed as “preferred” skills instead?
  • How many “preferred” skills do you have listed as “required”?
    • Can you separate them into two separate lists?

Far too many employers equate the term “qualified” with someone being a “do anything and everything unicorn.” Instead of listing up-to-date, role-specific requirements, job descriptions tend to be unnecessarily long and filled with nitpicky details that make it impossible for candidates to check all the boxes.

This approach causes three problems:

  1. You get far fewer quality applications because people are applying for roles where they meet less than half of the requirements. With the way job descriptions are written, the advice out there is to apply for jobs where you meet 50% or more of the requirements.
  2. Many quality candidates do not bother applying, feeling they would not get hired given they only meet 75% of the requirements, even if many of them are listed as “preferred”.
  3. HR tosses aside the resumes of qualified talent because they don’t meet 100% of your requirements.

The people you hire are an investment in your company’s future. But expecting to find someone who perfectly fits every single requirement is an unrealistic approach. One study found that applicants spend less than 50 seconds reading a job description before deciding to apply. We also know that women are only likely to apply for roles where they meet 100% of the requirements (for men, it’s 60%).

Ways to Set More Realistic Candidate Expectations

  • Break down your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” skills into separate sections outlining required and preferred qualifications. Keep both sections brief and to the point, and only what a candidate truly needs to successfully perform their job. If it isn’t necessary, scrap it from the job description and discuss it in the interview instead.
  • Keep it appropriate to the role. Wanting 2+ years of experience for an entry-level position is essentially saying you want certain expertise but are only willing to pay an entry-level salary.
  • Be more general in background, skill, or technology requirements. Someone might not have expertise using the exact CRM system you have, but they could have expert-level skills using something similar.
  • Consider scrapping the college degree requirement. Would you really overlook someone with 10+ years of tech experience because they don’t have a college diploma? There comes a point where life experience supersedes having a degree or not.

Doing these things will increase your chances of having your top talent feel confident in applying and you just may find your “unicorn”! However, we know writing job descriptions isn’t easy. If you would like some assistance, a recruitment agency can help you set realistic hiring expectations and find the right candidate.

Give Someone a Second Chance

More than 78 million Americans, ¼ of the total population, have a criminal record. ⅓ of Black men have a felony record, and Black and Latino adults are both more likely to be incarcerated than white adults.

Biases surrounding people with criminal records make it extremely difficult for them to find employment, even when they meet the job qualifications. In fact, 26% of managers will not hire someone with a criminal record. If you are part of that percentage, you’re missing out on qualified talent that could help solve your labor shortage problems.

Second chance hiring, or fair chance hiring, is hiring talent with a criminal record. And while “doing the right thing” is important in life, this is about more than altruism. Second chance hiring expands your talent pool and helps you build a more diverse and inclusive workplace. You’re also building trust with the people you hire, leading to improved performance, increased employee satisfaction, and a higher likelihood of retention.

Benefits of Second Chance Hiring

The benefits are proven by these stats from a 2021 study on hiring people with criminal records:

  • 85% of HR professionals and 81% of business leaders say workers with criminal records perform the same or better than those without a criminal record.
  • 75% of HR professionals and 73% of business leaders say workers with criminal records are just as dependable as those without criminal records.
  • 81% of HR professionals and 74% of business leaders said the cost-per-hire was about the same or less for people with criminal records.
  • 81% of HR professionals and 74% of business leaders said the quality of hire was about the same or better for people with criminal records vs. those without one.

What About Safety?

In case anyone on your hiring team brings up safety: According to HR professionals who hired people with criminal records, 83% of the felonies represented on background checks were related to substance abuse (e.g., DUI, drug-related crimes), not violent crimes (e.g., assault, domestic violence).

We understand that not all companies can kick background checks to the curb, but you can shorten the length of your check to focus only on felony offenses within the past 3-5 years. You should also have open conversations with your recruitment agency about hiring people with criminal records and reach out to colleagues to ask about their fair hiring practices.

A little food for thought to close out this topic: If corporate giants like Target, Home Depot, and JPMorgan Chase & Company are on board with second-chance hiring, you can be too.

Be Open to Boomerang Hiring

Boomerang hiring (rehiring someone who left your company) accounted for about 4.5% of new hires in 2021 and comes with plenty of benefits:

  • You know their personality and work ethic–eliminate surprises or uncertainties that come with hiring someone who’s a complete stranger.
  • They know your company culture, structure, clients, and how things work–you already know they fit in your company culture and understand how things work.
  • Less training and onboarding –they already know the processes and routine and can hit the ground running.
  • New skills–every company does things a bit differently, and those fresh perspectives can help you generate new ideas and improve processes.
  • Reduced turnover risk–they came back for a reason, and are more likely to stay.

The key to boomerang hiring is maintaining good relationships with employees who leave. Engage with them on social networking platforms and help them celebrate their successes. Check in with them occasionally and extend invites to have lunch with the “old crew.” You can also utilize email marketing to keep former employees looped in on what’s happening at the company (think newsletters, quarterly company updates, etc.).

The key to boomerang hiring is maintaining good relationships with employees who leave. Engage with them on social networking platforms and help them celebrate their successes. Check in with them occasionally and extend invites to have lunch with the “old crew.”  You can also utilize email marketing to keep former employees looped in on what’s happening at the company (think newsletters, quarterly company updates, etc.).

Hire Contractors and Visa Workers

Companies sometimes shy away from hiring contractors and temporary visa workers and we’re not quite sure why. Yes, having a full-time employee is ideal but why let positions sit open for months when there’s plenty of temp talent available?

Contract and visa workers are ideal for short-term projects or when you need help while searching for permanent employees. In a tight job market, this type of worker can be the solution to your talent acquisition problems.

5 Advantages of Using Contract Workers

  1. While not always easier to find, contract-based labor opens you to a much wider array of talent than if you only search for permanent hires.
    • Contractors are great for short-term projects, which are plentiful in information technology (IT).
  2. You can find a replacement faster if things don’t work out.
    • You get substantially more flexibility with contract-based talent and make quicker decisions on downsizing/upsizing your team. Management can also outsource tough termination discussions to your recruiting agency instead of handling them internally.
  3. Flexibility in hiring part-time, full-time, on-site, remote, or flex schedule workers.
  4. The option to hire!
    • Contracting lets you “test the waters” and provides the option to release someone at the end of the contract or offer a permanent position.
    • You are better positioned to hire contractors full-time at the best possible salary.
  5. You are not required to offer PTO and benefits.

If you aren’t sure where to start, a recruiter can help you tap into a large market of qualified contractors. They can also help you understand the different types of work visas and temporary work program requirements.

Offer Competitive Pay and Benefits

In 2021, more than 47 U.S. employees voluntarily quit their jobs–and it hasn’t stopped yet. This mass exit known as “The Great Resignation” was a bit of a wake-up call for employers and hiring managers. More than ever, people know exactly what they want in a job and company and aren’t afraid to ask for it.

Desired Pay and Benefits Options

If you want to attract and retain top talent in today’s job market, you need to be competitive.

  • Flexibility: People want the ability to work remotely, have flexible schedules, and work from anywhere. As long as someone gets their job done and is available during business hours, it shouldn’t matter where they’re working.
  • Relocation Options: Do you want to lose talented, loyal employees because they need or want to move? Be open to letting employees temporarily or permanently relocate to another state (or country).
  • Generous PTO: Work/life balance is important. And while a few weeks of PTO is the standard, some companies are moving to unlimited PTO. The benefit of the latter is you don’t have to pay out vacation when someone leaves.
  • Parental Benefits: Make family a priority by offering maternity/paternity leave, daycare reimbursement, or flexible scheduling to accommodate school and daycare pick-up/drop-off times.
  • Good Medical Benefits: Medical care is expensive, especially for multi-person households. Offer good medical benefits with an option for family coverage. You should pay at least half of the premiums, though some companies cover 100% now.
  • Mental Health Support: 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness. Provide employees support in the form of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and mental health benefits.
  • Competitive Salaries: In 2021, low pay was the top reason for people quitting their jobs. Don’t lowball candidates because you are trying to save money, and don’t let pay be the reason someone leaves. Salary discussions are no longer viewed as taboo, and people will know if they are being paid less than their peers for the same job.

Attend College and University Career Fairs

College and university recruiting events offer a large pool of eager, talented people ready to prove themselves in the work world. In one afternoon, you can build brand recognition and connect with hundreds of students.

Some employers hesitate to recruit entry-level talent because it requires more time, training, and mentoring. However, building these relationships early offers several benefits.

Benefits of Using Freshers

  • Gen Z, who will make up 30% of the workforce by 2030, is well-versed in all things digital and will bring fresh ideas to the table.
  • That “first real job” excitement brings energy to your team and helps build a positive work culture.
  • The opportunity to grow someone professionally, then promote from within.
  • Entry-level talent is cheaper to hire, but you still need to make your offer enticing with competitive pay, benefits, and work flexibility.

One important thing to understand is that young, entry-level people are still figuring things out. There’s no guarantee they will never leave (as with any employee) but if you treat them well, there’s always an opportunity to bring them (and their new knowledge) back to your company.

Need Some Additional Help?

Pira Consulting can help you navigate the sometimes complicated world of recruiting and talent management. Check out our recent blog posts and subscribe to our Hire Fire Podcast for more hiring tips!