With the rise of the gig economy and unemployment progressively lower, casting a line into the same pool of candidates can yield disappointing talent acquisition results. Diversifying where you source, how you retain and who you hire are becoming requirements for recruiters and human resources, especially as the market continues adding more new jobs.
Younger generations may look at education and employment differently than perhaps retiring Baby Boomers did. That makes sourcing more of a challenge. Traditional retirement might not suit everyone's taste, as more people want (or need) to stay in the workforce longer, which opens up new sourcing possibilities. Hiring incentives, both from employer to candidate and in the form of federal tax credits for employers, aren't a cure-all.
The new employment landscape needs a new approach to keep up with current and projected job growth. It's just beginning to take shape, but some strategies show promise.
Even at Full Employment, the Job Market Continues to Grow
Long-range job growth projections, which reach into 2024 show overall moderate increases. Because the market has been at full employment for some time, growth is slower now. Most people who want a job have one, so the pool of active candidates with the magic combination of education and experience is quite thin.
Some industries will fare much better than others in the coming years. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows new jobs being added at a rate of approximately 6.5 percent for all measured occupations.
Here's how some of the more prominent changes break down by percent increase:
- Wind turbine service technicians: +108
- Occupational therapy assistants: +42.7
- Physical therapist assistants: +40.6
- Nurse practitioners: +35.2
- Web developers: +26.6
- Biomedical engineers: +23.1
- Software developers: +18.8
Low unemployment now continues the post-recession trend that began several years ago. Currently, it's at a 16-year low, according to CNN, with over 200,000 new jobs added in July. With many Baby Boomers arriving at the traditional retirement age range and more following soon after, growth plus a lack of candidates could soon become critical.
Hiring Incentives Don't Always Stimulate Hiring
Both from the employer side and the federal government side, incentives, by definition, are designed to keep the employment market moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, they're not always enough or they're misguided. In some cases, they may target the wrong problem.
One example is the misinterpretation of what really matters to Millennials. They're often painted with the broad brush of entitlement and a lack of professionalism, and some employers get it all wrong. A great incentive isn't necessarily a game-like work environment. Incentives have to mean something on a deeper level.
Millennials want work that means something bigger than just a paycheck. Forbes says they may seek out ethical organizations that are known for social responsibility.
They also value work/life balance. As a general group, they're unwilling to sacrifice their well-being for a paycheck presumably because they've witnessed the results in their elders. Those are important points to remember.
Federal hiring incentives might also be off the mark if employers don't change direction with talent sourcing. Aimed at creating tax credits for hiring overlooked populations, they sound good on the surface. But they're not necessarily enough to change an employer's mind about the ideal candidate.
Stanford Social Innovation Review explains:
''These interventions are unlikely to catalyze the talent pipeline changes employers ought to be making in today's economy. Moreover, because employer tax credits are not designed to change the way employers source talent, they miss the critical part that comes before hiring even happens: talent acquisition.''
New advertising initiatives that promote groups of job seekers without traditional experience or education can help meet tax incentives halfway. They could affect positive change for both employers and people who want and need something more than a minimum-wage job by showing what these ambitious, highly trainable people can bring to the table.
As the young generation of workers, Millennials will eventually change the workforce in one way or another. Lack of opportunity that meets their needs is part of what triggered the rise of the independent worker and the gig economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every industry sector shows non-employer businesses such as:
- Arts and design
- Computer and information technology
- Construction and extraction
- Media and communications
- Transportation and material moving
Apprenticeships, Mentoring and Phased Retirement Help Train and Retain Valuable Workers
Employers can take on three initiatives almost immediately that help slow the loss of highly experienced Baby Boomers and train up next-gen employees who show promise. Apprenticeships, mentoring and phased retirement help keep employees engaged and source from a broader pool of talent outside the company.
The Society of Human Resource Management touts apprenticeships as a valuable option that could solve two problems at once. Employers can source from a broader pool with more relaxed qualification requirements while they build up the skill level of people who might not have the opportunity elsewhere. Apprenticeships, says SHRM, can help a person find their life course.
It's a newer angle for the United States, they explain. In countries such as Germany and Switzerland, apprenticeships are a ''preferred career path.'' It requires an initial investment, but with several million manufacturing jobs coming available as Baby Boomers retire and few young people receiving training to fill them, the talent shortage is bound to grow.
Mentoring, apprenticeships and phased retirement could go hand in hand. Many people from the Baby Boomer generation have inadequate retirement savings and many are interested in staying in the workforce longer. Fast Company says some have no intention of fully retiring until at least age 72.
Phased retirement could offer a solution, especially considering the added benefit of an increase in allowable make-up contributions to retirement savings plans for older Americans.
Vantage Leadership offers up these points to ponder about engaging younger workers:
- They value relationships at work. If teamwork and friendships aren't encouraged, they won't stick around.
- They might be more focused on the goal of completing a job and less concerned about how, when or where it gets done.
- They want to know the grand-scale importance of their work or how their efforts positively affect the company and society.
- They should be recognized for their tech savvy.
- They look forward to advancing.
Older, educated and experienced workers could help guide the youngest generation into the fold through working with apprentices and by mentoring employees who show both promise and motivation. This full-circle type of strategy helps prepare younger people for the jobs you need to fill while keeping valuable, experienced employees engaged and on your team.
Looking Outside the Usual Candidate Qualifications Could Yield Positive Results
With everything said about a lack of talent, part of the problem is the employer perception of what makes a candidate valuable. Many people, especially certain younger job candidates, are overlooked for one glaring reason: they lack a bachelor's degree.
As bachelor's degrees have increasingly become a pre-requisite for so many jobs now, employers might need to ask themselves if it's really necessary or if it only seems like it should be the new standard. For certain jobs, such as in the medical field, a degree is obviously required. But what about jobs where candidates could realistically learn on the job?
That's one of the arguments for sourcing within one of the most overlooked groups. Young people who lack a degree are often stuck in dead-end jobs for minimum wage with little hope to move up and out. With so many difficult hours devoted to minimum wage work, earning a degree on the side might be a hardship. But many of these youths are motivated, intelligent and want a better future.
Oberg Industries trainings program coordinator, Linda Wood, tells SHRM, ''Our educational system pushed everybody to go to college and forgot about the technical trade.'' She continues, ''We've created this conundrum here in the U.S. where we're grading schools based on how many kids go to college and anyone outside of college is left holding the bag.''
For employers who need entry-level workers, perhaps strict education requirements do everyone a disservice. That's why there's a movement by politicians, such as Congress members Corey Booker and Tim Scott, to offer employer tax incentives and raise awareness of the serious lack of options for young people without a degree.
''The good news,'' says Stanford, ''is that market signals indicate these types of perception-change initiatives are working.'' Companies such as AT&T, State Street Corporation and Gap, Inc., are embracing diversity in recruiting by sourcing for aptitudes and potential instead of just on education acquired. They're helping bring low-income young people together with livable wage employment. Internships and apprenticeships help bring more of these young people on board and equip them with the skills they need to keep moving forward instead of struggling for life. At the same time, they give breadth and depth to the talent pool.
The job market keeps growing as the economy improves. If the U.S. Department of Labor projections are accurate, there will be a greater and greater shortage of workers to fill both newly-created positions and those vacated by people leaving the workforce in the coming years. As they say, something's gotta give. With the right technology, you can be a leader in this new landscape of sourcing and hiring.
For example, when you plug in the qualifications that you're looking for in an applicant, job matching, and recruitment advertising technology bring together your ad and the talent you want to find. As people in the talent pool gain proficiencies or the job requirement change, real-time matching automatically adjusts to bring the most accurate results. Using predictive analytics, you don't have to rely on outdated advertising performance models. You'll be equipped with a better understanding of what works now and why, and the technology will handle the legwork.
There is no shortage of working-age Americans. There's just a shortage of qualified talent as ''qualified'' is defined in the here-and-now.