Close

Sign up to get the latest news and stories on the future of work.

Subscribe Search

Search form

Dear ReWorker,

As this is my first job in HR, I find myself researching...a lot. In our industry, and our small town, skilled labor is becoming increasingly hard to find so we're constantly looking for ways to not only bring in better candidates, but also keep the skilled employees we already have. Do you have any resources that may help me?

Sincerely,

Rummaging for Resources

___________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Rummaging,

You're not alone. Unemployment is the lowest that we've seen this century, and skilled labor is particularly hard to find. Schools push everyone toward a four year college degree, instead of encouraging some to pursue unskilled labor job training, so hiring today is a unique challenge.

But, let's start with how to keep your current employees. Are you conducting exit interviews? Are you trying to find out where people going and why they're leaving? How is your pay and benefits package? Do you offer enough vacation? Do you have a retirement plan? Health insurance? These benefits can be expensive, but they are less expensive than high turnover—make sure you're offering competitive plans and perks to your employees.

Also take a look at your managers. Are they doing a good job? You might want to send them to training to sharpen their leadership skills. Good management can make a world of difference in keeping employees happy and engaged.

Once that's taken care of, it's time to look for new hires in potentially unconventional places. Here are some tips for attracting candidates in a competitive hiring economy.

Consider Professional Networks

Look for candidates that are part of professional networks such as the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which focuses on training and developing passionate people for skilled positions. Organizations like mikeroweWORKS prepare individuals in specific ways to help them stand out among other candidates, so take time to get to know applicants that belong to these groups and identify how they can contribute to your company.

Don't Overlook Recent Grads or Students

You said you're in a small town, so that leaves you with a small labor market even when unemployment is high, so start with your local high school and help build up a workforce. Offer apprenticeships and internships. There are rules regarding paying interns and apprentices, but it's worth the investment.

An internship can be a time to train and vet your next generation of employees. Not only will they actually get some meaningful work done for you while they intern, but you'll also gain clear insight into whether or not you'll want to hire them as full employees down the line.

Give Older Applicants a Chance

Older people (those over 40, according to the federal definition of "old") are often looking for a chance to shake up their careers and try something new. While this group traditionally sees lower unemployment than teenagers and young people, there are plenty of people out there who would like a different job, or need a new job.

Don't limit your training and development to 18 year olds. Offer a program for everyone—including people who have already had a career in a different area.

Hire New Moms

It's not unusual for new moms to use this momentous milestone in their lives—the birth of a child—to pivot when it comes to career choices. They may be looking for more flexible work, for example. Give them an opportunity to get back to work, but on a lighter schedule.

Consider stay at home moms in your community as well. Would some of them like to get back to the workforce? Perhaps.

Look to Prisons

People with records find it hard to find work. For many, it's almost impossible. Give them a chance—you may find some great employees with a unique perspective on life and an inspiring appreciation for a second chance.

You'll notice a common thread among all of these candidate segments—and that is that you'll have to start from scratch with many of them, and invest heavily in training. This is true in every field—you cannot expect perfect people to walk in off the street. You have to invest in your employees. Yes, it's a financial risk. But, it's the best way to get the employees you need.

Sincerely,

Your ReWorker

Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady

Photo: Creative Commons