While the unemployment rate dropped last month, of the hundreds of thousands of people that flooded out of the labor force, many likely gave up on their job search. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number has decreased from 8.2 percent in July to 8.1 percent, with an employment increase of 96,000 in non-farm industries including food and beverage, professional and technical services, and healthcare. And while the decreased rate may have positive implications for job seekers who've been actively searching for prolonged periods of time, hiring managers are still plagued by vacant positions, which they've either filled with a candidate who didn't pan out in the end or that have been empty with no solution in sight.
As an employer who provides a service or product, you're only as strong as your team. Hiring the perfect candidate is important, but you must realize that having missing links in the chain of command adds untold stress to the ranks of your company, driving down productivity and overall happiness in the workplace. In fact, the large-scale unemployment rate is directly linked to the number of vacancies held at each organization. It's when this number snowballs that problems in the job market become pervasive.
There are a few things that every employer can do to avoid being a part of the unemployment problem that continues to plague the country, in addition to preventing unemployed, under-employed, and part-time workers from feeling uncertain about full-time job prospects.
Involve Your Employees in the Hiring Man-Hunt
Chances are, your payroll is filled with people who have been unemployed at some point or who know someone who is seeking employment. Make the staff a part of your hiring quest to find the perfect candidate instead of keeping it as a top-down process that employees play no role in. Your employees will need to work closely with whomever is hired, meaning its important that they're able to relate to and work well with your new hires. Consider starting an applicant suggestion box where employees can drop resumes and contact information of viable candidates. You may even consider offering an incentive to employees who consistently provide promising leads.
Dedicate a Portion of Every Day to Filling Vacancies
If you're like most employers, you may be a bit strapped for time as you work your way down an ever-growing to-do list. But putting hiring efforts on the back burner means that for every month there's a vacancy at your company, you're contributing to the unemployment rate...since there's no hiring or staff expansion taking place. Make it a priority to spend part of every day reviewing submissions from job candidates.
Think Outside of the Inbox
Sure, good things come to those who wait, but if your hiring strategy solely involves you sitting in front of the computer, vetting through emails and making decisions based on email subject lines, you've got a long way to go in the hiring process. The unemployed are forced to get creative in their job search to up chances of being hired and you should do the same.
In addition to participating in the online conversation and pulling candidates from job boards, Twitter chats, and from the results that keyword Internet searches yield, consider this: face-to-face communication lets you analyze non-verbal cues and can allow you to make more accurate judgements of whether unemployed candidates are qualified for the position. It also allows you to assess their fit with your organization's culture. Consider hosting weekly open house hours where you invite candidates to drop off resumes and apply in person. Unsolicited walk-ins are frowned upon with good reason, but set aside some time each week where you're open to spending a few minutes with qualified candidates and specify that only those candidates with adequate experience will be seen. You may find a diamond in the rough, who you could have overlooked based on unemployment-caused gaps in their employment history.
Reassess Your Standards
While there's nothing wrong with having high standards, if your hiring efforts have proved unfruitful thus far, your expectations could be the problem. Ask yourself these three questions: What is the minimum amount of work experience necessary to get the job done appropriately? Is hiring someone who is "overqualified" more of a problem than adding to the workload of my already taxed team? Is there anyone on my team in an entry-level position who can do this job? Asking yourself the latter could mean promoting from within for higher positions and refocusing your hiring efforts to find entry-level employees externally.
It's time that hiring to fill vacancies becomes the focus. All too often, the hiring process at organizations with job vacancies turns into a major debacle and emphasis shifts from getting someone in the door to surviving the process itself. Keep the end goal in mind so that you don't get caught up in the journey...and left with a seat at the conference table that never gets filled.
How have your hiring practices kept you from hiring to fill a vacant position? What else can you do internally to lessen the time it takes you to find and hire job candidates?
Follow Sudy Bharadwaj on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JackalopeJobs