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Help Wanted? Here’s How to Find Qualified Candidates

by Brad Johnson on February 12, 2018
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Laminated handwritten "Help Wanted" sign in window of ice cream and yogurt shop in tourist town.jpeg

Like many U.S. employers, you may be looking to fill or create new jobs.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are 5.9 million U.S. job openings as of November 2017. But with millions seeking employment, how can you reach qualified candidates?

“Fifty-four percent of small business owners [in January 2018] reported finding few or no qualified workers. That’s a 10-point jump from the previous month and an all-time record. The previous record (53 percent) was September of 1999. [Employers are having] to raise compensation to attract and keep qualified employees," says National Federation of Independent Business Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.

That’s not exactly reassuring. Use these three tips to recruit the best new hires:

Find the Right Job Boards

You’ve seen the big job boards like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Most states have job banks that reach millions of job seekers too. These are good starting points (and don’t forget newspaper classified ads!), but if you need employees with specialized skills or education, look beyond one-size-fits-all options. Niche job boards are the key to finding workers with a particular skill set or in a single industry. Whether you’re looking for restaurant wait staff , a Class A truck driver or a sales rep, there’s probably a relevant job board out there.

Trade and professional associations often include job listings online too. How to find them? Search by keyword with the Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website.  Professional magazine and journal websites are another hot spot for job seekers.  Try a Google search for “trade publications” and the job category (e.g., “nursing trade publications” or “advertising trade publications”). Not only will you bypass non-specialists, you can also check out your competition and see how your posting measures up.

Monitor your job posts and the traffic they generate, especially if you paid for your ad. “Checking your spend and application metrics for specific job listings and changing bids daily will give you the best return on your investment, and will ensure you aren't wasting money on attracting a large volume of clicks but not qualified applicants,” advises Inc.

Optimize Social Recruiting

Your company probably has a Facebook page and maybe a Twitter or Instagram account. You’re covered on social media, right? Not so fast. According to the Pew Research Center, “some 35% of social media users have utilized social media to look for or research jobs, while 21% have applied for a job they first found out about through social media, and 34% have used social media to inform their friends about available jobs at their own place of employment.” Create a separate “careers” account on Facebook, a company page on LinkedIn or your own #workforus hashtag on Twitter. Post images of company events to your Instagram account to help potential employees see your corporate culture in action.

Want more ideas? Betterteam.com shows you how to use services like Periscope to hold live Q&A or get-to-know-us sessions, or Buffer to time your social posts for maximum impact. Use social media to show candidates what it’s like to work for you. You’ll also send the message that you’re up on technology, approachable and invested in building relationships.

You can also use Facebook or LinkedIn to search for people with specific training or interests – advanced search features focus on keywords in user profiles. LinkedIn Groups are another way to connect with people in your industry. The more you participate, the more group members associate your company with their expertise.

Few things turn candidates off faster than unanswered inquiries, broken links or seemingly random job posts. “Social platforms are built to drive conversations, so you should actively manage any that spring up around your job post,” advises Inc.  Show candidates you’re engaged by replying to their comments and keeping accounts active.

But don’t overlook old-fashioned person-to-person networking. Ask colleagues, friends and family for referrals – you never know how people are connected. Referrals from current employees can be especially valuable. They already know the corporate culture, what skills and experience are needed, and probably know others in the field who would be a good match. As the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out, “employee-referred job candidates are usually a good cultural fit and may need less onboarding when hired.” And even if you provide a cash incentive for employee referrals, it’s likely to be less expensive than hiring a recruiter. Another plus? “Well-designed and well-managed employee referral programs can also improve employee satisfaction and lead to better employee retention rates,” says SHRM.

Passive Candidates and the “Skills Gap”

Passive candidates are workers employed in your field who are not actively seeking a job change. The idea is - because they do the job now, they must have the right skill set; therefore, they’re a proven asset worth wooing (often via social recruiting). You may assume some passive candidates are better at the work than the unemployed simply because they have a job at the time you’re looking.

Can you even find these potential employees if they’re not looking? Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and, especially LinkedIn, are good starting points. Recruiter Lou Adler suggests searching online for people with comparable but not necessarily identical experience. On LinkedIn, Adler “looked for project managers in different industries who worked in comparable technologies, vendors who might have implemented similar solutions with their clients and consultants who worked on these types of projects.” This identifies people with transferrable skills that you can approach for an exploratory phone call. As you engage them in conversation, try to compare your opportunity to their accomplishments and focus on career growth. The key is to be persistent and take the time to follow up with leads.

You can also source passive candidates through Twitter chats on topics relevant to the skills or knowledge you need. Find and follow users whose tweets reveal their expertise or insight. Once you identify them, it’s time to engage. This approach takes time, but you’re trying to build a relationship. In the long run you’ll build mutual trust and respect. “This is a longer-term game, so you want to make a personal connection first. Because they’re not actively seeking a new job, they might need to be “warmed up” before you give them the hard sell,” says ZipRecruiter.

Forbes HR columnist Liz Ryan cautions that “hundreds of thousands or millions of fantastic and capable people have gotten laid off from their jobs through no fault of their own. They are not second-tier job candidates. If anything, they are closer to the talent marketplace and more in touch with their abilities and the needs of employers than folks who haven't job-hunted or changed jobs in years.”

So why all the fuss over passive candidates? The skills gap. Employers want a skill set active candidates don’t always have (especially if they’ve been jobless a few months or more), so passive candidates with skills in place become more attractive. Just remember - a passive candidate might require an incentive to switch companies (read: higher salary or benefits). So what costs more, wooing a passive candidate with an inflated salary or training an active one with potential or transferrable skills?

Research by SHRM found that “despite ongoing skills shortages … it is not uncommon for HR professionals to work without a training budget. In fact, almost one-third of [2016 survey] respondents reported that their organizations did not have one over the last 12 months.” Can you make a business case for training if it saves money over time (that same passive candidate could be targeted by competitors in the future, after all). And don’t forget about incentives for hiring and training veterans and other target groups looking for work. You could be eligible for tax credits up to $9,600.00 through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program.

From applicant tracking to screening to onboarding (and much more, including help with the WOTC program) count on Horizon Payroll Solutions to cover all your hiring and HR needs.


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Topics: Hiring