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Employers’ creative solutions to a difficult labor market 

 
Alex Oliver
December 23, 2021

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from a former colleague who said, “Every challenge you run into, I guarantee has been solved over and over. Ask for help. Someone will have been there before and know exactly what to do.” 

It’s good advice with applications in our professional and personal lives. But it strikes me as truly relevant these days, with so many employers across industries struggling to hire.  

Early retirements, burnout, employees rethinking their careers – the ‘great resignation’ is in full swing. Data from our October Insights report shows job openings up 85% since the beginning of the year. Applications haven’t come anywhere close to keeping up – up just 8% over the same period.  

Though challenging, the answers to today’s hiring challenges aren’t unsolvable. To help, let’s look at a few employers whose recruiting strategies are working. 

 

Challenge #1: “We’re not attracting enough of the right talent to our jobs.” 

The fix: promote shared values and let your employees do the talking 

In many industries there are more job openings than candidates right now. If this is your situation, part of your strategy likely includes attracting new candidates to your industry. Though necessary, it’s easier said than done.  

Take manufacturing for example. Much of the public holds a perception of manufacturing careers as hot, dirty, and loud. That’s why Fortune 500 chemical manufacturer Celanese takes its culture – and promoting it to prospective job seekers – so seriously. 

There are a few ways Celanese does this, but two stand out. First, Celanese has a clear perspective on who it is and its place in the world. Celanese calls this “the chemistry inside innovation.” This phrase encapsulates Celanese’s vision as a company that’s innovative and socially and environmentally responsible.  

Which brings us to the second part. Celanese breathes life into its employer brand by asking employees to do the talking for them. Jump over to Celanese’s career page and you’ll be greeted by videos of employees sharing their experiences and perspectives on the company.  

 

Challenge #2: “We’re not seeing great engagement with our candidates.” 

The fix: Build talent pipelines and touch base often 

One of the biggest complaints candidates have is not hearing back from employers in a timely manner. A study from Aptitude Research found that communicating with candidates – both in terms of frequency and presenting a clear, transparent picture of the job – improves organization fit by 57% and first-year retention by 51%. Other benefits include happier hiring managers and higher new hire engagement. 

Clear, ongoing communication shouldn’t be limited to the hiring process. You’ll know what I mean if you ever signed up for a talent pool or joined a company newsletter and never heard anything back. In other words, good communication is important to candidates regardless of whether their job hunt is active or passive.  

Take engineering firm Perspecta. Now part of Peraton, the firm focuses on technology solutions for space, cyber, defense, health, and more. As such, Perspecta hires a lot of engineers, analysts, investigators, and architects. Given the nature of their work, many require high-level security clearances for projects with the U.S. government.  

Perspecta’s team keeps candidates informed by periodically sending automated text updates. They also lean on an AI-powered recruiting chatbot named PAT (Perspecta’s Assistance Tool) to engage with candidates throughout the hiring process. 

 

Challenge #3: “We’re having trouble retaining talent.” 

The fix: Encourage skill development and collaboration 

At a time when people are changing jobs at an accelerated pace, it’s important to limit brain drain by keeping talent engaged. An effective way to do that is to give employees a path to develop new skills, take on challenging projects, and build connections with other teams. This also opens pathways for employees as new internal opportunities arise 

Not only that, but upskilling employees can be good for your bottom line. Just ask American Heart Association. As a nonprofit, it’s critical to use donor dollars in the most effective way possible. That’s why AHA created an internal projects board to bring employees from around the organization together for special projects. 

The result is more a more engaged, skillful workforce that collaborates and uses resources effectively. 

 

Final thoughts 

Be loud about your challenges. If someone you know doesn’t know how to solve your problem, chances are they’ll know someone who can.  

iCIMS customers get access to our iCIMS Talent Cloud Community, easily one of the best ways to connect and collaborate with other talent professionals all over the globe.  

You can also read more about these challenges and others by checking Top 5 hiring challenges and how to solve them: Employers’ creative solutions to stubborn recruiting issues. 

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