It doesn't matter how much of a perfect fit a job candidate might be--if he or she can't be available to work when you need them, it's a mismatch. There's more to worry about than laziness or unreliability. Even before new employees can set foot in your workplace, you've got to make sure you're not wasting time chasing after prospects whose schedules just don't allow them to work at certain days and times.

Sometimes, it's true that flexible scheduling improves productivity. But hourly work often doesn't provide that luxury. At Workpop, we looked at 350,000 applications submitted through our hiring platform, with just over half currently employed and just under half without a job. The different days and times when the job seekers were unavailable were evenly spread out. Just under two percent of employed applicants couldn't work Sundays, with an equal share unable to work weekends.

But these small fluctuations can add up quickly during the hiring process, presenting a big challenge to finding good matches swiftly. Altogether, about 54 percent of Workpop's presently employed applicants, and about 56 percent of unemployed, could work any shift. Put more starkly, just about 45 percent of all applicants in our large sample had some kind of restriction on their scheduling availability--not the kind of thing you want to find out after you take the time to review their application, put them in the good pile, and schedule and conduct an interview.

So, how to avoid that problem? Ask about availability early. Put your availability requirements in your job postings--and put that information close to the top so it's visible to everyone.

The job market is too complex to assume that your needs will align with the hours that many of your applicants are willing to work. Don't assume--ask.

Over half of candidates seeking work in hourly and shift-based industries like hospitality and retail, we discovered, are currently employed, imposing restrictions on fully 45 percent of their schedules.

Another key is recognizing just how many applicants have a part-time job already. Rather than just being picky, many applicants with scheduling restrictions are highly motivated but constrained.

According to updated Bureau of Labor Statistics data, over 26 million people are working part-time jobs (with over 20 million doing so for non-economic reasons). Although the national average of multiple jobholders hovered at around five percent in 2015, according to a recent BLS report, state-level figures vary widely, with many states in the southern half of the country reaching no more than four percent and many in the northerly half exceeding five, six, or even seven percent. And last year, multiple job holders nationwide ticked up over 2015 numbers.

Since so many candidates just can't make it to work anytime, hiring managers gain a big leg up using tools that clarify the scheduling picture before the interview process gets underway.

At Workpop, where many job postings are hourly, particularly in food and beverage or retail industries, we require potential candidates to indicate which shifts they can work on every application. Hiring managers therefore screen accordingly with the click of a button, saving time without sacrificing a happy ending. Early screening of those who aren't a fit with the immediate hiring need saves a significant amount of time in the hiring process.

But if you can be flexible, say that up front too. Candidates who might otherwise skip over your job postings because they aren't sure if they can make it fit their schedules might take a second look. They value flexibility, and they appreciate employers who do, too.

Published on: Mar 8, 2017