How to Attract and Retain Talent in a Tight Labor Market

As the U.S. emerges from COVID-19, many employers are discussing how to attract talent during a labor shortage and how to avoid the “Great Resignation.” In this competitive labor market, it’s important to update your hiring and recruitment practices so that you don’t lose out on talented candidates

Right now, candidates are in the driver’s seat in the hiring process. To get more qualified candidates for your open job in this tight labor market, you need to rethink some of your old hiring policies. Here are four things you can do to attract more candidates, increase your talent pool, and make more great hires.

Create an Unforgettable Employer Brand

After having their lives upended by COVID-19, job seekers aren’t simply looking for a paycheck. They are paying particular attention to prospective employers’ culture and values and pursuing opportunities that resonate with their values, passions, and lifestyle needs. 

Smaller organizations may not be able to offer high salaries or endless perks, but they can make a strong case for why a candidate wants to work for them. Many professionals will go the extra mile, sometimes compromising on pay and perks, when they find an employer that’s an ideal culture fit. This creates an opportunity for your organization to differentiate itself from other employers in a competitive labor market.

Don’t be afraid to talk about what makes your organization stand out. Share how your company keeps up its culture, whether through an office setting or remotely. You may even want to make culture the primary focal point of your employer marketing. A job description rooted in your culture and values will help candidates imagine how they can make an impact in the role, and find a community within your team after an isolating year.

Simplify Your Application Process

Have a hiring process that aligns with your company culture. If you want someone to feel like they’ll be the right fit for your company, then start that off from the beginning.

Did you know that 60 percent of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out a job application because of its length or complexity? Don’t miss out on talented candidates because your application process is too complicated, especially when it’s already a tight labor market! Try to eliminate any unnecessary steps, such as online applications that require duplicating your resume or asking for references before you’ve even had a conversation.

You can broaden your talent pool by ditching degree requirements for professional positions that don’t truly require a formal college education. Unnecessary degree requirements can perpetuate hiring biases and often decrease the diversity of candidate pools. Make your job requirements more accessible and equitable.

While you want to ensure you find the right person, try to be thoughtful about how many steps are in your screening process. Narrow down the steps that will best correlate to a candidate’s success in the role and compensate a candidate for their time if you ask them to produce a work sample in the interview process. 

Make Interviews Approachable and Expedite Offers

It has been well established that interviews aren’t a good tool for objectively evaluating talent. As a result, organizations can risk hiring the best on-stage performer, rather than the person who is the best fit for the job. Try to make your interview process more approachable.

Some organizations have started sharing their interview questions in advance so that candidates can prepare to answer specific questions. This can help ease candidates’ nerves, showcase their preparation skills, and create more thoughtful conversations when candidates aren’t racking their brains for examples on the spot.

Once you’ve gone through the interview and screening process, try not to hold candidates in limbo. You have to move swiftly in a competitive labor market. It’s unnerving for candidates to wait for too long, and indecisiveness can damage your organization’s reputation with future candidates. 

Focus on Flexibility

Workplace flexibility was already a popular topic before COVID. A 2019 Glassdoor survey of over 5,000 adults in the U.S. and Europe detailed that 56 percent of respondents prioritize workplace culture over salary. Furthermore, 73 percent of workers said they would not apply to a company that didn’t share their values.

Now workers of all ages want the ability to work when and where they are most productive and engaged – especially after they’ve demonstrated their ability to work remotely for an extended period.

By 2024, mobile workers are expected to account for 60 percent of the U.S. workforce. One of the best ways to attract and retain talent is to offer flexible working accommodations, whether that’s a hybrid model (part remote, part in-office), flexible hours that accommodate childcare and other caregiving responsibilities, or total freedom to set their own schedules.

Along with flexibility, you can promote robust work-life balance through your PTO policies. Encourage employees to take vacations, offer paid holidays, and create other opportunities for self-care and time away to recharge. A great place to start this summer is updating your summertime policies.