9 Tips to Find Job Candidates in a Tough Economy

By Bill Peatman | Updated: 11 Jan, 2022

Several forces are combining to make 2022 among the most challenging hiring environments in recent memory:

  • Four million people have quit their jobs each month since April 2021.
  • Unemployment rates have fallen below five percent.
  • 73 percent of CEOs say a skills shortage will disrupt their businesses in 2022.

While it is counterintuitive to see record resignations and low unemployment rates, the message for employers is that workers are choosey about how, where, and why they want to work. How are businesses responding?

  • 80 percent implemented or extended flexible work from home policies.
  • 68 percent amplified their mission and purpose.
  • 68 percent increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • 65 percent invested in wellness programs. 

Here are ways to find job candidates in challenging economic times.

1. Look Within

Upskilling or reskilling—trendy terms for training existing employees for new roles—offers a range of benefits for businesses. "Companies that invest in the training and development of workers show that they are loyal and care about their employees, and employees will reciprocate," said Nick Day of Roundtable Learning.

According to human resources analyst Josh Bersin, upskilling is also a lot less expensive and risky than hiring a new employee—up to six times cheaper.

The loyalty that comes from training is enormous. A LinkedIn survey found that 94 percent of workers would stay at a company that invests in their learning and growth while on the job.

2. Leverage Social Media

A 2021 study by CareerArc found 92 percent of recruiters use social networks to find job candidates. Social is a go-to option for finding candidates, ranking ahead of ads, employee referrals, and traditional job boards. Consider these numbers:

  • 55 million applications are submitted on LinkedIn every second.
  • 86 percent of job seekers search social media for listings.
  • 80 percent of employers say social recruiting helped them identify passive prospects.

Best practices for social job posting include:

  • Share a job posting on your company's social media page.
  • Invite followers and employees to share the post with their networks.
  • Track how many people apply from social networks.

3. Recruit Former Employees

Welcome back former employees who left in good standing. "Rehiring employees who left your company on good terms can be a beneficial and easy business decision," job board Indeed said. "Former employees may also reach out to you to ask for employment opportunities."

The benefits include: 

  • Familiarity—they know you, and you know them.
  • Lower onboarding and training time and costs.
  • Increased morale and security among current employees.

Happy former employees can also be great ambassadors for recruits online, in person, or via social media. If you do not already encourage employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor, those reviews can be powerful testimonies to your employee experience. 

4. Be Flexible

Remote work job board Flexjobs said that 58 percent of employees want to work remotely full-time, and 38 percent want to work from home part-time. The site's audience may be biased, but there is little doubt that remote work will stay in the mix for most businesses. Offering remote work flexibility can expand your recruiting pool geographically, too, making it possible to hire from outside an easily commutable distance.

Workplace consultancy Global Workplace Analytics analyzed 4,000 studies, reports, and articles about flexible work policies and found that the most common advantages for the companies that establish such programs are:

  • Higher employee satisfaction.
  • Increased employee retention.
  • Reduced unscheduled absences.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Lower facility costs.
  • Better workplace diversity.
  • Expanded labor pool.
  • Lower retirement rates.
  • Increased employee empowerment.
  • Increased employee collaboration.

5. Look to Underrepresented Groups

Until 2020, many businesses that gave lip service to diversity efforts now find these measures are a business imperative. Their customers and employees demand a more diverse workforce. As mentioned above, flexible hiring opens the door to cultural and geographic diversity. Flexible hiring also makes it possible for people of different abilities and experience levels to join teams, including:

  • People with physical disabilities cannot easily commute to an office.
  • Young people from areas where job opportunities are scarce—including offshore regions.
  • Low-income workers that lack access to convenient transportation.
  • People with criminal records.

Diversifying the workplace is not just a noble thing to do. It is a proven competitive advantage.

6. Change Your Job Descriptions

A method companies are using to attract previously underrepresented populations is changing the language of job descriptions. For example, being more transparent about the minimum requirements for a job. Does the work require a college degree or a specific number of years of experience? Job requirements might exclude or discourage people from applying due to:

  • Lack of education.
  • Lack of experience.
  • Age (too young or too old).
  • Gender stereotypes.

7. Create a Training Program

If you cannot find candidates for your jobs, you can create them. Much like upskilling, a training program can give people the tools and experience they need for roles that you cannot fill. A marketing agency, for example, creates boot camps for college grads to get them up to speed on the latest digital marketing platforms. According to Indeed, there are seven steps to creating an effective in-house training program:

  1. Assess training needs.
  2. Teach adults like adults.
  3. Develop learning objectives.
  4. Design training materials.
  5. Compose training materials.
  6. Conduct the training.
  7. Evaluate the training.

You can add an eighth step—improve your training program based on evaluations. Depending on the skills you need, there may be online training programs already available that allow you to skip steps 2-7.

8. Use Employee Referrals

Paying your employees to refer job candidates to your company can be a surprisingly cost-effective way to hire. According to Indeed, from advertising to recruiters' and HR leaders' time, it costs an average of $4,200 to hire an employee. If you offer your employees $1,000 or $2,000 for a referral that gets hired, your company saves money. Employee referral programs also:

  • Improve the quality of new hires because people you trust pre-screen them.
  • Increase employee retention because people stay longer when they have friends at work.
  • Improve your company's reputation because nothing says, "great place to work," like employees referring people to the company.

9. Reinvent Work

Some companies are reinventing work to blend gig-type pay-as-you-go work with a monthly stipend and traditional benefits. Consumer products giant Unilever is doing just this with its U-Work program. Designed to appeal to older workers that want to scale back their work but are not ready to retire and to younger workers that want to work from anywhere, the program combines the security of a monthly paycheck with pay on a task-by-task basis.

"U-Work gives employees the freedom and flexibility associated with contract roles with the security and benefits typically linked to permanent roles," Unilever said. "They work on varying assignments, and between assignments are free to do other things that are important to them."

Think Outside the Box 

Recruiters are turning to out-of-box thinking to fill critical roles in 2022 and beyond. In a tight job market, you have to offer employee experience that attracts people and look in places you might not search for when candidates are plentiful. The good news is that using some of these tactics will help diversify and expand your workplace.

About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.