8 Tips for Hiring When the Unemployment Rate Is Low

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Small businesses often struggle to find the perfect job candidate, even in times of plenty. But when the national unemployment rate is at record lows, hiring becomes even more difficult.

At the beginning of the decade, the unemployment rate climbed to 10%. Now that it’s below 4%, business owners are scrambling to hire whoever isn’t being picked up by the major players and massive corporations.

Whether you’re a sole proprietor looking to make your first hire, an established small business owner who needs to meet rising demand, or an HR professional and/or hiring manager looking to fill an unexpected opening, your mission is the same: Appeal to a narrow field of applicants amid a clamor of competition.

How do you become the signal among the noise and make a good hire, despite low odds? Here are eight tips for hiring in a worker’s market:

1. Improve your compensation and benefits package

Let’s start with the obvious: In order to be more attractive to potential candidates, you need to offer them a competitive salary and benefits.

According to Hired’s 2018 Global Brand Health Report, compensation and benefits is the number one factor job seekers consider when looking for a job. Does that mean it’s the only thing workers care about? Of course not. But you put yourself at a massive disadvantage when your pay is low and you don’t offer healthcare or other fringe benefits.

If you’re a small business owner unsure of how you can afford to offer healthcare, look into the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) and explore your options.

2. Recruit with personality, personally

In so many aspects of business, personalization is key. It’s become one of the core tenets of email marketing, sales—and now, recruiting.

According to the Hired report, 50% of respondents said they’d engage with a company that sends a personalized recruitment note. Women in particular felt strongly about the power of personalization, with 12% more female respondents citing it as important.

When you reach out to prospective employees—via LinkedIn, other social media channels, or email—take the time first to learn about their background, and make your message relatable to them. Forget generic templates and generalizations: The time you lose in writing out a personal message, you’ll regain when you hire much quicker than you would otherwise.  

3. Reexamine your job description

Writing a job description isn’t easy. How do you boil down the responsibilities of a job into a couple of paragraphs, while including an explanation of the company’s history, culture, and benefits?

If you aren’t getting many responses to what you have now, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Keep the following tips in mind while writing:

  • Keep job titles simple: You may think it’s cute and shows personality to call someone an “SEO Superstar,” but most people aren’t searching for that on job boards. Use real-life job descriptions that get straight to the point.
  • Don’t overwrite requirements: You don’t want to set the bar too low for applicants, but don’t dissuade people from applying because they don’t meet a laundry list of criteria.
  • Customize the role to fit your company: A social media marketer can mean different things at different companies. What does it mean to you?
  • Utilize a clear structure: Make use of bullet points, short paragraphs, and clean, clear fonts. You want your ads to be as readable as possible.
  • Stay positive: Leave your self-deprecation, sarcasm, and negativity for the stand-up set.

4. Streamline your application process

You may think that a complicated application is the first test for anyone who wants to work for your company. But the more variables you throw into the process, the more likely you are to disqualify a quality worker.

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