How recruiters and recruiting teams can prepare for a tighter job market

At the end of 2022, the labor market was at odds with signs of a slowing economy. As inflation rose, hiring managers benefited from a promising pool of newly available talent.

But the stability of the labor market this year remains uncertain, some recruitment teams are preparing for a tightening market. Big companies continue to lay off workers and implement hiring freezes, all too reminiscent of the 2008 recession. As a result, companies are slowing talent acquisition to conserve funds.

On the other hand, unemployment rates are about as low as they were before the pandemic, which means now is a good time for recruiting teams to develop hiring strategies. How can recruiters and recruiting teams prepare for a tighter job market while still being ready to succeed this year?

Reassess your company’s salary structure

Since the job market is currently stable, professionals looking for a new job are likely to have higher starting salary expectations. In addition, people who are already employed are looking for a higher salary, with the average wage increase in the United States is expected to reach 4.6% this year, according to SHRM.

Companies must keep pace or increase market averages to better compete with other employers. According to the same SHRM study, insufficient compensation is the main reason for high turnover rates.

Recruiting teams can compare their salary structures and compensation packages during this time. Salary benchmarking can start by sitting down with your team and reviewing the parameters by which salary increases are offered. Are the incentives and packages still align core business objectives with stakeholder needs?

Once your business objectives have been reviewed, leaders can begin to define their competitors in the market. Be as specific as possible in naming and evaluating competing companies in order to best develop a strategy for reforming your salary structures.

Don’t forget your latest hires

Once recruiters and hiring managers have found the right person and onboarded new hires, it’s easy to move on to the next recruiting target. Recruiters and hiring managers too often rely on other employees to help new hires fit into the company culture.

But most new hires know within the first six months if they want to stay with the organization. Because retention is just as much of a concern for recruiters as talent acquisition, managers need to focus on new hires with the same enthusiasm.

Checking in with recent hires will go a long way in retaining talent. Ask new hires what their day-to-day work experience is like. What are they working on? What projects do they hope to work on? Was there anything unexpected the new recruits encountered?

These checks will help recruiters understand what potential candidates are looking for in new employers. And asking these questions will also build trust in your new and existing employees.

Emphasize DE&I in recruitment practices and hiring tools

DE&I hiring processes can be complicated for recruiting teams eager, or even desperate, to fill positions when turnover is high. Leaders may be sincere in their plans to promote diversity and inclusion, but they face employee burnout and frustration who have to pick up the slack when someone leaves.

This is where a tight labor market has a positive side: recruiting teams will have the perfect opportunity to focus on their DE&I hiring strategies. Remember that diversity, equality and inclusion is not just about hiring diverse groups of people. The real work in DE&I practices is in the hiring process. Many companies already have unconscious bias training in place for their teams.

For example, review all the language of your interview questions. Are there other questions that could be more effective qualification indicators? You want to make sure your existing hiring processes don’t accidentally exclude qualified candidates who may become DE&I hires. Recruiters and hiring managers should review job descriptions and postings to ensure inclusivity is at the core of the mission.

Recruiters also need to perform comprehensive audits of hiring data, especially when AI tools weed out hundreds of qualified applicants. Evaluate when and where underrepresented candidates drop out of the pool and see where you can keep these candidates strong in the competition.

Promote staff development and development

Most leaders know the value of retraining and upskilling, especially for high-potential candidates who crave personal development. Potential recruits want companies that care about career trajectory and growth. The new generation of employees appreciates development opportunities when it comes to deciding if employers are the right fit for their ambitions.

When talking with potential candidates, hiring teams should emphasize development opportunities in their company. Let new hires know that your company invests in the career advancement of all of its employees. Above all, the most desirable candidates want to know that there is room for upward mobility within the company.

And if that’s the message you’re delivering to potential talent, it should be the same for your current staff. So how can you help your current teams elevate their skills? Conduct assessments, not performance reviews, to determine where skills gaps may exist and how your team could fill them.

Talent acquisition teams must also coordinate learning plans, especially for themselves. Whatever limited recruiting downtime may be, it should be spent pursuing certifications and professional development courses so managers can keep up with recruiting trends and retention best practices.

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