Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen a significant change in the labour market which we can only assume is a result of COVID-19. The number of jobs being advertised has increased and the number of suitable candidates applying for jobs has decreased.

Why aren’t people applying for jobs?

We can only speculate that potential candidates aren’t applying for jobs right now because they are afraid. They are afraid to leave their current employer and risk their current job security. They are also afraid that a potential new employer won’t offer them ongoing stability.

How to get suitable candidates to apply?

In a tight labour market, candidates have many options which is why it is important for businesses to sell themselves well so that they can attract suitable candidates. Businesses that can paint a picture of what it would be like to work for them will be seen as favourable to a potential candidate. It is important however, that this picture is not falsified or inflated too greatly as businesses may face some retention issues once a person comes onboard.

A suitable candidate is out there but it’ll take some work. Some strategies to attract suitable candidates include:

  • Polishing job descriptions – the more transparent a business is, the more likely they are to land a suitable candidate;
  • Review job advertisements – update job advertisements to be sharp, concise, and edgy;
  • Salary benchmarking – complete a salary benchmarking exercise to make sure that the remuneration package being offered is aligned with the current market rate;
  • “Refer a friend” campaign – existing staff may have connections from previous organisations that they can recommend, offering an incentive for staff to refer a friend has been proven successful in many businesses;
  • Refine the process – review the current recruitment process such as the ease of the application process, phone screen questions, interview techniques, reference check questions, pre-employment medicals etc.
  • Flexible working arrangements – offering flexible working arrangements such as working from home or flexible hours can be highly attractive to a candidate;
  • Sell the business – update any websites to include images, videos, core values, mission statements, and “who are we”, and use social media sites to plug the business and get the brand out there as much as possible; and
  • Develop existing employees – look at the current workforce and identify any team members that could potentially be upskilled or coached into the role.

How to handle a counter offer

In an environment where candidates are scarce, a preferred candidate may provide a counter-offer. Completing a salary benchmarking exercise prior to advertising a role will help manage a counter offer situation. Knowing the “range” the market is paying as well as understanding the business budget constraints will help determine a maximum amount that can be offered. If increasing the salary is not possible, there are other ways to “sweeten the deal” without upsetting the internal culture such as offering a sign-on bonus, flexible working arrangements, a 6-monthy salary review etc.

Check out our previous blogs, Improving Employee Retention, and Understanding Employee Engagement and Retention for some more information about attracting and retaining staff.

If you’re looking for assistance in recruiting in a very tight labour market, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team, via the chat box here or calling us on 08 6150 0043.

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