All You Need to Know About Low Unemployment and Your Hiring Strategy

May 16, 2019 Pete Newsome Pete Newsome

Quarter two is underway with an unemployment rate still lingering under 4% — and the effects are being felt nation-wide by employers who are looking to build their workforce.

Employers having a much smaller talent pool to select from (86% of the most qualified candidates are not actively seeking a job) is one of the major negative effects of the low unemployment rate. However, there are some benefits too, especially for those workers who are seeking new opportunities. Such low unemployment is highly advantageous for them, as it means they have more options and can seek better compensation from employers competing over a limited pool of talent.

As an employer, how will you have to shift your hiring strategy when the current job market isn’t necessarily in your favor? Here are some hiring trends that have arisen due to the low unemployment rate, and how they can impact your recruitment strategy.

It Has Become a Candidate’s Market (Whether You Like It or Not!)

62% of employers feel that the labor market is candidate-driven. This shift in power means that applicants and candidates can now exercise more leverage in the labor market, which can present challenges to employers recruiting during low unemployment such as:

  • Top candidates being in high demand and not remaining on the job hunt for long, which can result in them not showing up to previously-scheduled interviews (AKA “job ghosting”);
  • Having more vacant positions than qualified candidates willing to make a move;
  • Needing to battle your competition for top talent by offering higher salaries or better benefits, which increases the cost of acquiring a new hire;
  • Not having enough in-house staff to handle recruiting because it takes more time and effort per hire; and
  • Existing employees leaving for better opportunities or higher pay from competitors.

You May Need to Be More Flexible

When there are more open positions out there than qualified people to fill them, you may not be able to find a candidate who checks every single one of the boxes on your wishlist. Instead, you may have to be a bit more flexible with your expectations.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for a candidate with a skill that is in short supply on the market, such as a software developer who has expertise with a niche software language. When hiring during low unemployment, you may have to consider alternatives, such as finding a highly skilled developer who has a background with similar or complementary software, or bringing in a more junior employee who has the ability to quickly ramp up. This shift in hiring for potential rather than solely based off of experience can be a key to successful recruitment in low unemployment.

Be Prepared to Move Quickly

Thanks to the competitive nature of a labor market with low unemployment, there’s no time to wait on a candidate who is the right fit. Once you identify someone who is aligned with the job role and your culture, you need to be ready to go ahead and take the plunge. Lingering on a decision because you think there’s a slight chance that someone better might come along isn’t a strategic move in low unemployment...in fact, it’s the opposite of how you should operate.

With top candidates only staying available for an average of 10 days before getting hired in today’s talent shortage, you really don’t have time to waste. That being said, you don’t want to rush your hiring process or settle for a candidate who isn’t the right fit. What we’re saying is, once you are sure, don’t let a day go by without extending your offer.

So, how can you overcome these hiring hurdles to successfully recruit during record low unemployment? After all, when the competition increases, so does the need to get creative. Here are a few ideas.

Recruiting in Low Unemployment Tip #1: Sell Your Company’s Culture.

In such a competitive job market, how can you stand out against other employers who are also struggling to find top talent? While a lot of job roles in a given industry may be similar, one thing that is always different amongst companies is their culture and employer branding. This can be a powerful tool for your company and, when used effectively, it can help your business stand out to both potential candidates and your customers — providing a double ROI boost.

While some companies may have a more “hip and modern vibe” when it comes to their company culture, others may rely on a traditional corporate image. There’s no right or wrong here — all that matters is that you are genuinely portraying your organization’s true culture when selling it to prospective employees. This can be done by highlighting your company’s mission and values during interviews, asking your best employees to voluntarily share their experiences with your company on sites such as Glassdoor (which many candidates will check before even applying to a job), and taking the time to truly engage with candidates before investing in hiring them. This can be done through something as simple as taking them out of the office for a casual coffee chat or lunch during the interview process.

Recruiting in Low Unemployment Tip #2: Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits

There are two main ways to make your business stand out in today’s competitive job market — reputational differentiators (such as your company culture, as previously mentioned) and compensation. Show that you value the skills, knowledge, and experience of your candidates by being willing to pay realistic and competitive salaries. This will help to set you apart from other employers who may be more interested in cutting hiring costs than getting the most qualified candidates. Do your research on local hiring trends and average wages for the types of open positions you have available, then be prepared to be competitive about matching them if you want to attract top talent.

Beyond just compensation, the benefits you offer can be a powerful tool for standing out amongst other employers fighting for the same candidates. Competitive health care benefits and retirement savings contribution programs can convince a candidate to choose your offer over another one. Other perks that are becoming increasingly common, such as partial tuition reimbursement, extended leave for new parents, company wellness programs, remote work policies, and a flexible schedule for a better work/life balance can also incentivize an individual to make a career move. Plus, these things can contribute to a stronger company culture and improve retention rates for the employees you already have. This creates another “double win.”

Recruiting in Low Unemployment Tip #3: Take Advantage of the Benefits of Staffing Agencies

There are many benefits of staffing agencies — and turning to professional recruiters during times of low unemployment can drastically increase your chances of making successful new hires. Here’s why:

  • Professional recruiters are likely to have experience working with companies of various sizes in multiple industries, and can bring those valuable insights to your business;
  • They have the expertise to form a strategic hiring plan aligned with the unique needs of your business;
  • They have access to a vast and ever-growing pool of both active and passive candidates;
  • They handle front-end recruiting processes such as sourcing and screening candidates — allowing your in-house employees to focus on higher-return tasks for your business;
  • They allow you to bring in talent faster through an expedited and streamlined hiring process, which is especially important in low unemployment when candidates aren’t available for long; and
  • A reputable staffing agency with a successful track record can help you place the best candidates in the right roles the first time around, increasing retention rates and decreasing turnover costs.

Overcome the Challenges of Recruiting in Low Unemployment with the Right Professional Staffing Agency

Hiring during low unemployment can be a challenge, but 4 Corner Resources (4CR) is equipped with the resources, expertise, and experience to help you find the best talent in a competitive labor market.

Named by Forbes Magazine as one of the most respected recruiting firms in the U.S., 4CR has a long history of supporting businesses of all sizes operating all across the country. Our relationship-focused approach allows our team of expert recruiters to offer flexible solutions without sacrificing speed or quality — and with such a low unemployment rate, this is necessary for successful recruiting!

Ready to get started and overcome the obstacles to hiring in low unemployment? Contact us today.

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