How to Find Employees in a Tough Hiring Environment

Finding the right employees for your company is a challenge in the best of times. Now it’s more difficult than ever. Employers—from the restaurant industry to the hospitality sector and everywhere in between—are scrambling to staff their long-vacant establishments that have been impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns.

For insight into this topic, we conducted a Q&A with Allison Ebner, Director of Member Relations & Partnerships for the Employers Association of the NorthEast (EANE). 

Whether you’re struggling to emerge from the pandemic or facing any other kind of tough hiring environment within the economy or your specific industry, here are some of Ebner’s top tips for finding employees in a tight market.

What advice would you give to an employer looking to expand their workforce in the current hiring environment? 

First, identify your target audience and where they tend to go online. Once you’re in your prospective employees’ orbit, create an easy path for candidates to apply to the position you are hiring for. Make the process easy and stress-free by removing any unnecessary steps.

Speed is critical to your hiring process—engage candidates quickly and be responsive to keep their attention. Communicate with new applicants in a timely fashion, quickly responding to new resumes or applications.

Great people refer great people, so tap into your internal network of current employees for referrals. To support this effort, consider offering an enticing bonus to employees who successfully refer someone to the company. 

Think outside the box and be creative with your recruiting efforts. From drive-through job fairs to radio ads, there are so many ways to cross paths with great candidates. 

What suggestions would you offer restaurants and hospitality businesses who have been hit hard by COVID-19?

The restaurant and hospitality industries have struggled to rebuild their workforce after a year of shutdowns, capacity fluctuations, and challenging regulations. If you are a business leader in this space and are feeling the strain, you are not alone. But there are still ways to find and retain great candidates.

Showcase why people would want to work for your business by promoting a welcoming, engaging company culture. Address potential concerns by positively reframing them. Market why someone should go to work at your business or restaurant, and offer enhanced benefits and incentives for joining the team.

Tap into your current employee base and ask them for referrals from their own networks. Your employees know the ins and outs of your business, so they may be able to find candidates in places you wouldn’t have thought to look.

How can you make your job listing compelling in this competitive hiring environment? 

When candidates read your job listing, they should quickly gain a clear understanding of what makes your business stand out as a great place to work. What is special and unique about this opportunity? A compelling job listing is one that is personalized to your business. Take the time to highlight the aspects of your brand that differentiate your company from your hiring competition. 

As candidates begin their application process, give them a sense of your brand’s unique culture. If you have flexible work options, be sure you reference those as well.

Which recruiting websites would you recommend for finding qualified candidates? 

Indeed and LinkedIn are currently two of the most popular sites for posting and finding jobs, and Facebook is another option to consider. Above any online platform, however, referrals and word-of-mouth are still your best resources for finding relevant candidates. 

Regardless of where you choose to post your job opportunity, encourage current employees to share your listings to their own networks, and discuss the position with their connections. Give your current employees specific language to use when describing the job opportunity so your company is putting out a consistent, unified message.

What resources can employers turn to if they need support throughout their hiring process?

Local colleges are an excellent resource to tap into as you move forward with your hiring process. Career service departments will typically distribute information about job opportunities to students who are looking for work.

Connect with your local Chamber of Commerce, as well as any other local and state resources that offer career services and job assistance. They may have the capacity to send information about the position out to their network of jobseekers.

There is no magic, one-size-fits-all solution to our current talent crunch, but once you find your secret sauce, you can use it to your advantage. 

By tapping into the truth of what makes your brand unique, and using the resources around you to your advantage, you can drive your organization’s candidate pipeline and ultimately find great employees that will help your business flourish. 

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