5 Reasons You’re Struggling to Find Quality Job Candidates
July 10th, 2017 Written by: Molly Masterson
No two companies are alike. But in today’s market, there’s likely one thing that all companies can agree on: It’s hard to find quality talent to add to their workforce. In fact, according to Workable, these days it takes U.S. employers an average of 43 days to fill a vacant position. And for those companies in highly competitive industries and markets, it could take even longer.
Why is finding quality job candidates so difficult? Based on our own experience, and recent research, there are a myriad of trends and factors—inside and outside company walls—at play here.
The Changing Talent & Business Landscape
Simply put, the talent and business landscape is changing due to a number of social and economic factors. As a result, in order to move your recruiting and hiring initiatives forward, you need to understand the current situation and where things are heading.
1. The nation is reaching “full employment.”
The unemployment level in the United States is the lowest it’s been in a decade. In addition, wages are increasing and new job creation is growing. According to CNN Money, the latest U.S. Department of Labor unemployment figures show that the current unemployment rate is 4.4%—and many economists say we’re approaching “full employment,” which means the unemployment rate won’t go much lower.
With fewer people out of work, it stands to reason that employers are seeing fewer applicants and an increase in competition for the best of the best candidates.
2. There’s a talent shortage.
From manufacturing to financial services to technology, a number of industries are experiencing a serious lack of available talent—for several reasons that are all interconnected.
According to a recent Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, 38% of respondents said lack of technical skills among applicants was making it increasingly difficult to recruit qualified workers. In addition, respondents also cited lack of basic skills (59%) such as reading comprehension and basic computer skills, as well as applied skills (84%) such as critical thinking and leadership, as culprits, too.
According to SHRM, skill shortages occur when the labor market does not produce enough qualified candidates to fill the needed number of positions within a particular occupation. Generally speaking, skill shortages are caused by a combination of factors including lack of required skills, the right work experience, or educational qualifications and credentials.
As an example, skilled trades such as electrical, plumbing and carpentry are seeing a major shortage of skilled workers. From the elimination of hands-on shop classes in high schools to the retirement of skilled workers, there are less trained and skilled workers entering or staying in the field. In addition, cultural trends have pushed more young people toward college and away from the trades, according to a recent Angie’s List article by Paul F. P. Pogue.
As another example, the technology sector is arguably dealing with the worst talent shortage since the dot-com boom in the late 90’s—and competition is fierce for tech companies to retain their top talent, too.
According to TINYpulse’s 2016 Tech Industry Report, when tech employees were asked if they saw themselves working at the same organization a year from now, they responded with lower scores (7.95 out of 10) than both the general benchmark (8.49 out of 10) and the comparison responses from last year (8.19 out of 10).
As for the educational component, according to College Factual, the top 10 most popular college majors include: Business Administration and Management, Nursing, Liberal Arts and General Studies, General Psychology, General Biology, Criminal Justice and Corrections, Accounting, Teacher Education, Communications and English. As you can see, technology-related majors such as Information Technology, Software Programming, Web Development, and Engineering and other in-demand fields are not represented.
We’re living in an age of exciting and rapid technological innovation. But the recent recession, coupled with the pace of innovation, is making it more and more difficult to find the workers with the right skills.
“The reduction of staff and automation of jobs that occurred over the course of the recession amplified the drive for productivity from those remaining in jobs; rising productivity is associated with the use of and need for higher skills,” SHRM said in its report. “Similarly, the overall development of technology and increased specialization within highly technical fields have also made skill requirements more exacting. Therefore, job candidates with precisely the right mix of skills and experience may be becoming more elusive.”
A Changing Workforce
While the previous section defines the “demand side” of the equation, we also have to consider the “supply side,” according to SHRM.
“In the United States, many individuals holding the highest levels of education and skills are in the 40-plus age demographic,” the organization reported. “SHRM research has found that as the workforce ages and highly experienced and skilled workers retire, many organizations are not prepared for their loss.”
To lend even more perspective, it’s estimated that 10,000 Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) retire every day, leaving a huge void in experience and open positions across industries. In addition, millennials currently make up the majority of the American workforce, and it’s widely reported that millennials will make up nearly half of the workforce by 2020.
Where Your Company May Be Missing the Mark
The previous section focused on the changing talent and business landscape—trends that are largely out of your company’s control. Now it’s time to address how you may be hurting your efforts to find and attract the best job candidates.
3. Your employment brand is weak or damaged.
Simply put, your company’s employment brand is the public perception of the employee experience within your organization. And if it doesn’t look good to prospective employees, they’ll stay away.
In fact, according to a Corporate Responsibility Magazine survey, a whopping 69% of job seekers won’t take a job with a company that has a bad reputation—even if they’re unemployed. In addition, according to Betterteam, organizations with a positive employment brand receive twice the number of applicants than companies with a negative employment brand.
With job seekers placing immense value on a company’s reputation and employment brand, employers need to seize opportunities to showcase their company’s culture and values, and its existing team of top talent. Leveraging your owned media channels such as your website and social media accounts will help you give prospects a peek inside your company so they can see themselves working there.
4. You’re recruiting strategy is outdated.
Today, job seekers aren’t perusing the Sunday paper for job postings. They’re utilizing dozens of online resources and job boards such as CareerBuilder, Indeed and Monster, as well as LinkedIn and other social media platforms, to conduct their searches.
So, if you’re still using the same old recruiting tactics you’re probably coming up short in your search for quality job candidates. According to a Business News Daily article, the market is heavily in favor of job candidates. As a result, simply posting a job opening on your website and assuming the right candidate will find it doesn’t work anymore.
Companies need to eliminate one-size-fits-all screening and interview processes, strive for a quick yet informed decision on who to hire, and be more personal when reaching out to prospective candidates if they want to build up their talent pool.
5. Your job descriptions are scaring people away.
The job descriptions you post are likely the first point of contact you’ll have with potential candidates. You want to inform them, intrigue them, and entice them to submit an application—but also make sure you’re getting “the right” people in the door.
While you want to be as detailed as possible in your job descriptions to find good-fit candidates, you could be scaring them off for several reasons:
- The list of requirements is too long or rigid. It’s simple. The more requirements your job description lists, the less applicants you’ll receive. If job seekers aren’t confident that they can meet all your requirements, they won’t apply—and you could be missing out on great talent.
- You’re using gendered language. Research shows that certain words and phrases can be interpreted as more masculine or feminine, and deter applicants. A recent Forbes article offers a great example: “Consider the word ‘ninja,’ which increasingly appears in job descriptions in high tech. Among the listings on the employment-related search engine Indeed.com, usage of ‘ninja’ increased nearly 400% between January 2012 and October 2016, according to the company’s Job Trends database tool. While the word may make the job sound exciting, it may also dissuade women from applying, as society tends to regard ‘ninja’ as masculine”
- The job title is confusing. This one’s pretty simple, too. According to a Monster survey, 64% of applicants won’t apply to a job where they can’t understand the job title.
- The content is dry or too technical. If the content of your job description is too dry or technical, it will be more difficult for your potential candidates to engage with your message, and possibly deter them from applying.
- You miss the opportunity to sell your company and the position. In today’s competitive market, job seekers are looking for a work environment they can thrive in and a company they can grow with. As a result, your job description has to help prospective candidates get a glimpse of your organization’s values, perks, culture and growth opportunities.
Tackle These Challenges Head-On
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for finding quality job candidates that meet your company’s unique needs. However, if you’re able to understand current market conditions, as well as look deeper into your own organization to find opportunities, you can craft a recruiting strategy that will help you go head-to-head with the competition and make your company more appealing for prospective job candidates.