The Great Rehire – Finding Talent in a Tight Market

The Great Rehire – Finding Talent in a Tight Market


One of the harder-to-swallow pills of Great Resignation data is that while record numbers of people are leaving their jobs, the pool of talent available to companies looking to fill vacant roles is tighter than ever. The workers who are quitting aren’t necessarily becoming free agents to be scooped up by the next suitor. They are opting out of the traditional workforce altogether to start their own businesses, balance gig-economy revenue streams or address mental health concerns and burnout. Others still are following the lead set long ago by Bartleby, the Scrivener and simply deciding, “I would prefer not to” work at all.

With demand high and supply low, companies need new levels of agility and outreach in their recruiting to not only survive this global worker shortage, but to come out the other side thriving. Looking for talent in the same old places isn’t going to cut it — here are thoughts on new avenues to explore.

Change Comes From Within

Companies may be surprised to learn that the best candidates for hard-to-fill jobs are already working for them — they’re just looking on the wrong floor (or Zoom video square). One of the side effects of an increasingly automated and digital workplace is that workers are much more likely to cross positional and departmental boundaries during their normal workday. Departmental siloing has been intentionally reduced and the practical reality of job responsibilities is blurrier than ever. A worker’s title is not necessarily the best indicator of their skill set or potential contribution.

Retention interviews are a fantastic way to find internal candidates looking to change departments, saving on onboarding expenses while giving existing employees a tangible sign of appreciation. Millennials are especially motivated and engaged by opportunities to learn, and beyond the morale boost you will also create a word-of-mouth benefit. Giving Millennial workers a chance to try something new gives them a reason to brag about their employer to friends who may be considering leaving their own jobs.

Aside from showing both current and prospective employees that there are opportunities to grow at your company, this strategy will make your recruiting process much more effective in a logistical sense. Moving internal employees up the ladder changes the landscape of open positions for which you will be recruiting to reflect your company’s needs more accurately, allowing you to deploy recruiting resources with greater efficacy.

Ditching the Demand for Degrees

Even the most prestige-obsessed professions have had to look beyond the clique of elite universities and degrees that historically have filled their ranks. The practical blurring of on-the-job skills is part of a larger trend of flexible learning that should have you rethinking another outdated job requirement standard: the four-year degree. Despite historic labor shortages, too many firms are cutting themselves off from a huge pool of talent with degree inflation — requiring a bachelor’s degree for jobs where it never was an issue before and often has no bearing on performance.

After dropping the degree requirement at his company, Ovia Health’s CEO told NPR “It’s a huge competitive advantage. We were missing out on a lot of talent by having what we saw as an arbitrary requirement for a lot of positions.” The reality is, the four-year model of education is losing relevance in more ways than one. In fields like tech, companies have been reducing “credentials-based hiring” for years, as coding camps and community colleges provide just as effective skills training. For anyone observing the financial situation many millennials find themselves in, skipping college and eschewing student debt in favor of alternative educational avenues seems like a sound fiscal decision. Besides, college grads in entry level positions are costly: they demand higher wages, are less likely to be engaged and stay in positions for shorter times.

But one of the most damaging and pernicious effects of the degree requirement is the way it forecloses access to opportunity and limits workplace diversity. As former Obama administration economist Byron Auguste put it in the same NPR piece referenced above, “If you arbitrarily say that a job needs to have a bachelor’s degree, you are screening out over 70% of African-Americans…about 80% of Latino/Latina workers…and over 80% of rural Americans of all races before any skills are assessed.”

The Flexibility Fix

Widening your scope of what a talented candidate looks like — whether internal or external — will give you access to candidates your competitors would never even consider. Of course, you will be doing your hiring team a favor if you offer flexibility around returning to the office and inflation-informed compensation. But breaking out of the same-old-same cycle of fraternity and collegiate connections will bring a fresh level of dynamism to your workforce and let you take advantage of inefficiencies in recruitment. It’s like ‘Moneyball’ for hiring.

Longer term, organizations should be considering implementing internal talent development programs and refreshing cultural frameworks and employee experience models. As that dynamism catches on and engagement builds, you’ll see that a strong brand and corporate culture are ultimately the best recruiting and retention tools a company can have. “Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity” indeed.

Now It’s Your Turn

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