a businesswoman laughing while interviewing a potential candidate in an office setting
ComplianceAugust 13, 2021

Attracting and hiring the right talent in a tight labor market

With the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine and the workforce returning to the office, U.S. employers find themselves facing a whole new predicament. Businesses — ranging from small mom-and-pop shops and restaurants to investment banks — are struggling to hire and retain good talent. It seems like there is no one out there to fill the jobs available. In fact, the Labor Department is reporting the highest number of advertised job openings in 20 years.

“It’s hard to find talent today. A lot of people are out of work, but there are still plenty of job openings and you have to find the right people to fill them,” says Terri Atteberry, a service director with Wolters Kluwer’s CT Corporation, which supports businesses with a broad range of compliance solutions for businesses of all sizes.

National unemployment in June was 5.9%, up from 5.8% in May, in part because the number of people looking for jobs grew, according to June data from the Labor Department. So why is it so hard to hire people today?

Candidates want more

The pandemic has changed what people are looking for in a job, which has made companies revisit how to attract employees. “Companies need to think differently about the way they are recruiting and what they are offering potential employees. What types of benefits and incentives are you offering? Can employees work from home? Is there travel involved? People have an all-around different idea of what work should look like coming out of the pandemic,” says Atteberry.

Bill Davis, a principal at The Davis Group, a legal recruitment firm, says he has changed his methods for recruiting as a result of the labor shortage and the change in candidates’ appetites. “People are doing a self-analysis and gut checks about life, and it’s creating disruption in the market. It’s definitely a struggle to find talent,” says Davis, adding that to help ensure law firms get attention, they have started buying his time to make sure he focuses on their job offerings versus paying him on contingency once he makes a hire. “Employers are incentivizing recruiters to focus solely on them,” he says. “That is a change.”

How to win talent

Some of the biggest companies are hoping that money will bring people back to the workforce. In May, Chipotle announced plans to raise hourly wages to an average of $15 at the end of June. What’s more, the fast-casual chain is also offering its employees referral bonuses and a clear path to management. Chipotle's crew members can advance to a Restaurateur, the highest General Manager position, in as little as three-and-a-half years, with average compensation of $100,000, according to the firm’s job’s posting. The company is looking to hire 20,000 employees.

Southwest Airlines, Walmart, and Costco are among other companies that recently pledged to lift their minimum wages to at least $15. McDonald’s said it would raise the hourly wage of its restaurant employees by an average of 10%.

However, money isn’t the only factor that comes into play. While financial compensation is always important, there are other considerations when trying to hire, especially among the younger generation of workers.

Atteberry says rethinking job descriptions and job titles has become key. “There are so many jobs out there, it’s no longer enough to say it’s a customer service position, for example. You have to write the job description to really explain the job and try to entice people. You have to show people on the outset that you are an innovative and dynamic company worth working for. Candidates want to see there will be opportunity for growth. These things have become more important than ever,” says Atteberry.

Davis says he used to post jobs openings for law firms and watch the resumes come in. That’s not the case anymore. “Today, the law firms want me to relay their merits and attributes to the candidates. They want to make sure I am really selling their offerings to the best candidates,” he says.

Things like a projected career path, a strong employee value proposition with continuous learning opportunities, and the ability to grow as an individual are all important. “Today’s candidates want to know they will learn and develop. They also want to engage in volunteerism and become part of the community. The younger employees care about people building and personal brand building. Money is not the only motivation,” says Atteberry.

Offering non-monetary benefits can also be helpful to secure new employees. “Innovative benefits, more PTO, and more wellness options get employees excited. Younger people also want to see that your culture is that of caring and that the company cares about its employees and their goals,” says Atteberry.

Recruiting in a tight job market is a job in itself

Creative recruitment ideas can really help your company stand out from the competition when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent in a tight labor market.

Hiring in today’s competitive market takes more than finding and securing great candidates. It also requires building a workplace culture that engages and entices your employees to stick around.