How to Stay Competitive

by Scott Kuethen
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If you’re like most employers, you’re wondering how to stay competitive in a tightening labor market. Recruiting qualified candidates is tougher now than ever. According to MarketWatch.com, there are now more job openings than unemployed Americans. We’re all faced with the fact that most qualified candidates are already employed–and the majority are also open to new opportunities. As you invite them into your hiring process, it’s a foregone conclusion that these in-demand professionals will receive multiple job offers and entertain counteroffers. Is it even possible to land the candidate you really need?

How Businesses are Reacting to a Tightening Labor Market

Many employers have upped their game in recent months in an effort to attract qualified professionals.  Some organizations are offering more perks, such as child care benefits, to stay competitive, says Challengergray.com, a career coaching firm. “In the last year, many companies took the initiative to help working parents by adding childcare and more expansive parental leave to their benefits packages.” These companies are trying to appeal to Millennials, to whom parental leave benefits for both the birth and non-birth parent are very important.

A number of companies have also increased employee wages, reports the Wall Street Journal. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that wages increased 3.1% in October from a year earlier, the biggest year-to-year gain for average hourly earnings since 2009. “Average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers increased five cents last month to $27.30. October marked the first time since the recession ended that the pay gauge rose better than 3.0% from a year earlier. Wages are rising solidly ahead of the rate of inflation, which is running near 2.0%.   Rising wages appear to be attracting workers to the labor force. The share of Americans in their prime working years (between 25 and 54) who are working or looking for work rose in October to the highest rate since 2010, at 82.3%.”

How to Stay Competitive

In such a tight labor market, how can you stay competitive in your hiring process? Here are a few tips from the experts:

1. Offer better perks. Think about what type of candidate you are trying to attract, Challenger encourages. If they’re Millennials and members of Gen Z, “pay attention to values – especially those related to family planning. A compelling benefits package featuring childcare and substantial leave might help to attract top talent and improve employee satisfaction in the process.”

2. Be ready to negotiate up. In this market, we at Amtec regularly present candidates who are considering several offers. Professional candidates rarely make a lateral move, and we do our best to learn what salary and benefits are important to them. So should you. When you’ve invested a lot of time interviewing and getting to know a candidate, few things are more discouraging that losing that professional to another offer because you didn’t have enough of the right kind of information when making the offer to make the kind of offer that is attractive to the candidate.

3. Always be recruiting. When I speak to groups of CEOs, hiring managers, and HR leaders, I am the first to say that Amtec and other executive search firms should be your next strategy. First, you should always be recruiting by asking those in your personal and professional network, “Who should I be talking to, who would make a great team member on our team?” People in your personal and professional network will not refer underqualified people to you because their reputation is on the line. You should be interviewing people even when you don’t have an open position. We all need to be building our pipeline of A Player candidates all the time.

If you’ve been struggling to hire top candidates, take to heart these 3 tips for how to stay competitive. Tailor your perks to your target candidate, be ready to negotiate up on what’s important to them, start recruiting now…and don’t stop!

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