The most important trend in workforce management right now is that the balance of power between employer and employee has shifted and the employee is back in the driver’s seat. Articles about this are everywhere. It’s a change that has been developing for a while, accelerating over the last six months or so, and is now acknowledged in multiple business and industry publications as officially the current state of things. Across many, if not most, industries and job categories demand is going up for workers, and the supply of those with the experience and skills employers want isn’t growing at the same pace. This puts workers in a better position to be deliberate and selective. 

This means that you have to rethink your strategy across the board in terms of workforce management, recruiting and hiring, and this includes any contract positions that you expect to staff. Your ability to attract and hire new talent, whether on a contingent or permanent basis, will absolutely be affected. Particularly in IT, those looking for a job have more choice than they have in years. We’ve seen higher rates and multiple offers being made more quickly than ever become the norm rather than the exception. Gone are the days when there was a plethora of good candidates to choose from and you could take all the time you wanted to make decisions.The recession and subsequent stagnant to slow economic growth of the past few years has made some employers complacent and overconfident. Don’t make this mistake. It’s critical to recognize that things have changed and react. The following are three things that you should consider if you want to succeed in this competitive, candidate-driven hiring market:

  1. You will need to sell the contractor on the job and your firm.From your job descriptions to the interview process you’ll attract the best people by making them feel excited to be a part of your company, your team. Help your staffing firm and recruiters sell the best parts of the job – the important work that you are doing, the new technology and systems they will be working with or developing, etc. Make sure that your hiring managers and anyone else involved in the interview process are friendly, knowledgeable, and understand how to sell your company. Arrogance and apathy must be banished and in their stead you need people who can excite top candidates and convince them to accept the position.

  2. Your rates must be competitive. In a candidate driven market salaries go up. The top performers and those with the hardest to find, most in demand skills are going to cost more. It is as simple as that. Tapping into the passive candidate pool, those employed but not looking, is also a great way to find the skills and experience that you need, and recent surveys show that many IT workers are ready to leave for contract positions, but the pay must be right. Recognizing where you can’t afford to go without and making competitive offers to fill those positions will be necessary. No one likes to pay more for things but keep in mind the true costs of an open position or settling for a less experienced contractor just to save money.
  3. Your process must be streamlined to be faster. In a highly competitive market, the best candidates won’t last long. Multiple interviews over days or weeks and delays in making a decision will no longer work. For the most sought after candidates you need to get back to the recruiter the same day if possible. Eliminate bottlenecks or red tape wherever possible; if the process becomes cumbersome or stalls at any point you risk.
  4. Your onboarding must be faster. Candidates understand that a certain amount of paperwork is inevitable before they can start but when they are in this nebulous in-between period they are at risk of being courted away. Onboarding that takes too long, 2 weeks or more, should be examined for opportunities to simplify and speed it up. Background checks and document preparation need to be done but are they being done as efficiently as possible? Can you reduce a layer of review or hire with contingency if they don’t pass something? Where there isn’t room for compromise are you ensuring that approvals are gathered as efficiently as possible? Can some steps be handled simultaneously to save time? Look for small administrative changes that could cut out a day or two in the onboarding process. It might make a big difference.

The sooner you recognize that things have changed and change your approach and recruiting behavior, the better off you will be. Don’t waste time thinking or wishing that it isn’t true. While you waste time you may continue to lose out on great candidates.

Jerry Brenholz
CEO and President
ATR International, Inc.


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