Manpower Group reports a 15-year high in global talent shortages in 2021, with more than a third of U.S. employers having difficulty filling openings. Employers are turning to cash incentives and work flexibility options to get and keep employees, but it’s not enough. As Harvard Business Review (HBR) found when surveying employers and hidden workers in the U.S., Germany, and the UK, automation in the hiring process, initiated to alleviate recruiting delays and improve hiring targets, now hinders employers from reaching the hidden workers they need in an ongoing pandemic marketplace.
So what should employers, recruiters, and hiring managers do differently going forward? Finding and engaging the hidden workers from the ranks of caregivers, older workers, immigrants, veterans, and those formerly incarcerated, who face employment challenges, means employers have to evaluate their hiring processes and make some changes. Three specific aspects of the hiring process in particular will create access to the hidden workers employers need for a strong and stable workforce.
Refresh Your Job Descriptions
HBR found that long and complicated job descriptions with many burdensome requirements discourage workers from applying, including 47 percent of recent college graduates. To avoid missing out on that many applicants, employers need to analyze their jobs for the skills that relate to performance and review and revise job descriptions. Eliminate outdated requirements and “nice to have” attributes and include the critical skills needed for actual performance in the position.
Rather than job descriptions that describe an ideal candidate and include outdated requirements like educational credentials, employers need to analyze jobs and craft job descriptions that explain the technical and social skills needed for job success, including clear performance goals. This puts the focus on relevant skills and experience and helps candidates with clarity in the recruiting process. Using must-have skills rather than a long list of legacy skills and requirements prevents employers from missing out on the hidden candidates that traditional ATS filters would eliminate.
Use Affirmative Filters in Your ATS/RMS
HBR found that most employers they surveyed used variables in their ATS/RMS with a failure to meet criteria to exclude candidates from advancing in their recruiting process. They also used proxies for basic attributes. Those factors exclude many qualified candidates for employers simply by utilizing recruiting efficiency software whose original purpose was to streamline recruiting processes and better target the right candidates.
Qualified candidates with the needed skills and experience but who don’t have the proxies that the employer has set, such as work history with no gaps or college degree, get excluded. By revising job descriptions and using affirmative filters instead of negative filters, employers cast a wider net and avoid losing out on the hidden workers applying to their openings. Skills-based filters that look for things like history of inside sales and work experience in team settings target relevant skills rather than outdated characteristics that eliminate applicants.
This important tweaking of the recruiting process creates the kind of framework that employers need going forward to hire for the skills and demonstrated competencies rather than just credentials, and expands the talent pool.
Use New Metrics to Evaluate Talent Acquisition
Historically, time and cost have been the top factors in the talent acquisition process, with recruiters evaluated on the direct cost and time to hire. But filling positions as cheaply and as quickly as possible leaves no room for the hidden workers employers now need. To access the larger diverse applicant pool that encompasses hidden workers, employers need to pivot away from expense minimization and toward asset maximization with new recruiting metrics.
Rather than measure how much it costs to hire and how fast the recruiters are hiring, measure factors like how long it takes new hires to reach full productivity, how long employees stay in their position, and how they advance. Those are the types of metrics that enable an employer to evaluate the return on investment in new employees.
Employees who are promoted and move up and workers who excel at soft skills including collaboration and engagement are the kinds of workers employers need.
Modernizing the talent acquisition process away from a focus on old metrics and toward a focus on the critical skills needed is necessary to expand the talent pool and include the hidden workers that employers need.
The large pool of hidden workers means missed opportunities in talent acquisition. Engaging hidden workers will encourage this group in labor force participation, help to close critical skills gaps, and boost productivity. Accessing the skills of hidden workers going forward will create a competitive advantage and contribute to business success.
Businesses are recognizing the need to do so, like CVS Health’s Abilities in Abundance program that addresses barriers to disabled candidates in its recruiting process. Employers are revising recruiting and hiring practices away from automation shortfalls like filtering for the ideal candidate and focusing on skills and actively seeking and engaging marginalized candidates.
This takes specific effort and actions from employers. While factors other than recruiting automation also contribute to hidden workers, making hiring hidden workers a key strategic talent acquisition practice is going to be necessary for a strong workforce in 2022 and in the near future.
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