It's an employee's market in America now, as the market remains strong and unemployment continues to fall. The most recent Department of Labor report estimated the United States unemployment rate held at 3.7 percent last month.
Even if a recession strikes, businesses won't have an easy time landing top talent--and they'll need the best to keep the business strong during the downturn.
Smart leaders know that the people on their team matter most to a business' future. Without great employees at the controls, even the best tools and automated processes can fail.
To stay ahead, you have to capitalize in a difficult hiring market. Here are five methods to help you hire the best talent and keep your company growing:
1. Pay competitively.
It doesn't matter how great your perks are or how enticing your company culture is--if your pay isn't competitive, the best talent will look elsewhere. Paying employees more might appear to trim your margins in the short term, but one brilliant employee is worth much more than a dozen middling ones.
Great employees earn their value back in more ways than one. Outstanding employees don't just drive better results; they also build a culture of top performance by setting the bar high and attracting like-minded people.
2. Look for attitude over experience.
The best hires aren't always the ones with the years of experience at top companies. As helpful as it can be to bring an expert on board, hungry and less experienced workers are almost always the most abundant demographic within the job market.
It's tempting to trust experience over talent, but it's important to remember that you want employees who can improve as your company grows, not people who have already done their best work. Many employees just starting out are actually more motivated to build their career and are willing to do what it takes to get better.
If a prospective employee seems to have the right talent and attitude to thrive at your company, don't let their lack of experience be a factor. Their attitude and willingness to learn is what will make the biggest impact.
3. Be transparent.
When you are trying to finalize a hire, be careful not to oversell the job or make promises you know you can't keep. A recent study by HR Dive found 73 percent of workers ages 18-24 claim to have left a job because it didn't meet the expectations set for them during hiring. Low unemployment allows job-hunters to be selective, and a lack of transparency during hiring could be enough to push talented employees out the door.
Every step of the hiring process requires honesty, starting with job descriptions. Overstated experience requirements and vague responsibility descriptions alienate top talent. Be realistic and clear about what you expect from a new hire, rather than getting bogged down in unnecessary qualification requirements that don't matter.
4. Refine your interview process.
Nothing is more frustrating for job-hunters than a drawn-out interview process that lasts months. It's common for prospective hires to go through three or more rounds of interviews and lose interest in the job or get a competing offer. When hiring, be aware that other companies may extend offers while you're running an applicant through a lengthy hiring process.
The key is to keep the number of interviews you need to one or two and bring multiple interviewers in at once to make better use of everyone's time. Make those interviews count by really considering what you need to know about the candidate, and what skills you need them to demonstrate.
Our company often gives "homework" to candidates in between interviews, allowing them to demonstrate the skills we need, rather than trying to vet them with several conversations about the material.
5. Create a mentorship program.
Your new hire might be younger, less experienced, or more naïve than you'd hoped. Few employees arrive fully prepared for a new position, so create mentorship program where your experienced employees help new ones get acclimated to your culture.
New hires are often starved for guidance. Millennials who are planning to stay at a company for five years or more are twice as likely to have a mentor at work than those who plan to leave sooner, according to a 2016 report by Deliotte. To get people to commit to your company for the long-haul, you need to make them feel welcome and have a person to help them grow.
These practices are vital even when the hiring market is booming, and when unemployment is low, these tactics could make the difference between thriving and struggling to get the talent you need. Putting mentorship, salary and employee happiness first will attract top talent in any environment. Make sure you're drawing the employees that will keep your business growing in the future.