8 Tips for Hiring in Today’s Tight Labor Market

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By Kyla Bobola | 06/06/2022 | 14 min read

In today's tight labor market, small businesses are struggling to attract and retain top-quality staff. To be competitive with other employers, you'll need to be proactive in identifying candidates with the right fit at a reasonable cost, and you may need to think outside the box to recruit the candidates you’re looking for.

Here are eight tips on how to find the help you need.

1. Be flexible. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to enable employees to work from home. For many businesses, this shift was a huge success, and employees are now actively seeking jobs that allow remote work. If your company is able to allow employees to work off-site you’ll likely have an advantage over other companies in your industry that don’t. But if your business cannot operate successfully with a remote workforce, you may still be able to offer the flexibility employees are seeking with flextime or a compressed work week.

2. Seek referrals from within your organizationYou may already have a valuable resource for new hires right under your nose. Ask your current employees for references and recommendations. You might even offer bonuses for employees that refer job candidates that turn into successful hires.

3. Provide training or educational assistance to your existing workersYou may be able to upskill some of your current employees by investing in their training or education. For federal tax purposes, companies can generally deduct the cost of courses or seminars that employees attend to maintain professional or job-related skills. In addition, some employers provide tuition reimbursement programs for work-related education expenses. Typically, these reimbursements are a tax-free fringe benefit to employees (no income or employment taxes on the value), and the employer can deduct the costs as business expenses.

4. Partner with local schools. If you decide to look for external job candidates, you don't have to do it alone. Consider partnering with educational institutions, such as public high schools, vocational and trade schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities. They can provide a large labor pool to draw from, allowing your company to advertise part- and full-time job openings and other learning opportunities, such as internship, co-op and apprenticeship programs.

5. Participate in economic development programs. Some communities and local not-for-profit organizations offer programs to foster economic and career development by linking the needs of local workers and local employers. Typically, community-based providers work with nearby businesses to give training to individuals enrolled in the program. This enables workers to match up with your company's needs.

6. Join industry groups. Meet with other employers who are in the same boat as you are. You can share ideas and methods for finding workers that have proven to be successful. In addition, your job postings may be extended to a wider audience through these types of networks.

7. Expand your reach with technology. If you want to get the word out that you're hiring, you must be visible on the websites where job applicants are likely to visit. It's also important to facilitate applications online and through social media. For example, you might target social media platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, to attract young part-timers. But LinkedIn might be more appropriate for higher level, full-time positions.

8. Create internship programsInternships and co-ops provide a creative way to bring talent into the fold. They give students and new graduates opportunities to gain work experience in a professional setting. Generally, a mentor will be designated to supervise interns for a set period of time (for instance, 12 weeks in the summer). Although interns generally receive no guarantees of future employment, participation in these programs could lead to a job or some other connection down the road.