Seasonal hiring has gotten even more challenging in recent years, as unemployment rates hover around historic lows and the number of jobs that have been added has increased. In certain markets and for high-demand skill sets, the unemployment rate is even lower—often less than 2%.
In some industries, candidates may receive anywhere from seven to nine calls a week from recruiters. It’s not enough to post jobs and hope to secure enough qualified candidates. You’re not only competing against other employers within your industry, you’re competing for broader skill sets across many industries.
What’s at Risk?
The stakes couldn’t be higher. Any deficiencies in staffing resources can lower a company’s productivity during its busiest time of year, taking a significant portion of revenue and profit down with it. Employee value propositions (EVPs) come into play and are enhanced or impeded with the effectiveness of the hiring.
At the crux of the issue is the sheer volume. If you need to hire one or two employees, it is still relatively simple to source, recruit, and hire adequate talent, whereas it can be exponentially difficult to hire hundreds of employees at one time. It seems fitting that the answer is also grounded in numbers.
Hit the Reset Button
Most ramp-up hiring begins with a look at historical data from prior years, but that’s just a baseline. What was done last year isn’t necessarily what will work this year; reviewing and focusing on the need to change as the market tightens is the right approach.
In the past, employers were able to acquire talent in a competitive landscape just by increasing the pay rate. However, that change alone is not enough—employers need additional reasons for their offer to be chosen over others. More and more, companies are offering opportunities to work from home and other company benefits in addition to good pay to be seen as an employer of choice. By ensuring their EVP remains compelling, employers can stand out among the competition.
5 Keys to a Successful Volume Hiring Process
So what are some specific actions companies should take in order to meet their high-volume hiring needs? Here are some recommendations:
- Redefine the challenge: Even though ramp-up hiring needs occur year after year, it’s still crucial to take a look at the situation now to create an effective strategy. Think about the factors that can influence the talent pool as well as your own fluctuating needs. What’s changed from last year in the market, economy, and labor pool? Is there a new major employer paying above market-rate wages? Does your company have a new product or service that requires additional headcount? What feedback are you receiving about the “experience” employees are having?
- Apply sufficient resources: Determine what resources will be applied to achieve the end goal. To make it the most cost-efficient, ensure efficient gearing ratios based on historical data with projected headwinds. For example, if you have 200 requisitions, you may need additional recruiters to source more candidates because the percentage of candidates who drop out during the onboarding stage may be greater than years past. It’s like a pulley system, where turning one lever activates the others. The key is to start with the end goal, then work backward, reengineering the process along the way.
- Keep an open mind: Sourcing scarce candidates can mean thinking outside the box. If you’re hiring for a call center, for instance, what you really need is customer service skills. Candidates with experience in retail or restaurants often have relevant transferable skills and will likely appreciate a job with regular hours. What skills can be taught in training to broaden your access to talent? Some companies prioritize recruiting unemployed workers because they want someone to onboard as quickly as possible.
- Hire with an eye toward retention: The opportunity for these contract positions to lead to permanent work can be limited, which eliminates a powerful incentive for employees to remain for the duration of the contract. To keep employees from leaving for a new job before the work is fulfilled, many employers are now leveraging retention bonuses paid out at the end of the contract. In addition, it’s good to think about what amenities, recognition, and rewards programs are in place to retain employees in the final critical weeks.
- Maintain rigorous standards: With a tight time frame, accountability is the watchword. With strong business planning and the efficient use of gearing ratios, monitor and control the execution of the plan and recruiting effort. Afterward, your real-time records will help you determine the strengths and weaknesses in your process and outcomes, which will be valuable for future high-volume seasons.
Just fulfilling requisitions each year isn’t the only benefit a recruiting firm should offer a client with ramp hiring needs. The most beneficial firms should also offer straight talk about what the market can offer and help solve issues central to each client’s broader mission. Every business faces the same challenge—how to allocate limited resources most efficiently. Look for a trusted recruiting partner with the strategy and methodical approach to guarantee your ramp hiring needs are met.
|Robert Barsamian, CSP, PMP is the Strategic Delivery Executive at Aerotek.|