Navigating a Tight Labor Market

By Jennifer L. Hipple

Is the tight labor market making it difficult to find quality hires for your team? You’re not alone! The 50-year low in the U.S. jobless rate, combined with a shrinking labor force is making the hiring process incredibly difficult. It’s especially challenging for those with limited resources to invest in candidate searches. In fact, a Nonprofit HR report notes that “hiring qualified staff with limited budget constraints continues to be the top talent management challenge for nonprofits.”   

Further, according to a Gallup study, nearly a third of today’s workforce is comprised of 75 million Baby Boomers who are retiring by the thousands every day. And the pool of Gen Xers and Millennials simply isn’t large enough to fill the shortage of skilled and experienced employees which means heightened competition among employers.   

However, there are steps you can take to improve your odds of keeping your staffing levels up, including:

·       working to retain and engage your talented and experienced staff and identifying those who can be trained or provided with projects to put them in a position for a promotion;

·       expanding your search to recent college grads;

·       partnering with employment offices, job seeker services, and job fairs; and

·       encouraging your valuable volunteers to apply for paid positions.  

 In addition, don’t overlook your social media platforms as prime recruiting tools. Post your job openings on LinkedIn and Facebook and ask your network to share the job postings with those they know.  

Do a reality check: Candidates who possess the “perfect” set of skills and experience are in high demand. Rethink your minimum requirements for the open position and broaden your “possibility net.” Does the role really require an advanced degree? Could experience be just as valuable?  

Think like a potential job candidate and identify ways to improve your hiring process. How long or arduous is it? Are you acknowledging receipt of all resumes and/or applications?  Keep in mind that the candidate you love may be receiving offers from other organizations. Are you offering a competitive salary and benefits package? What other perks might you add to it? 

Are you attractive enough? Take an honest look at your internal culture. Is it attractive to potential new employees? According to Nonprofit Quarterly, to be competitive in an increasingly tight labor market, “nonprofits must develop both internal and external initiatives that offer what workers want—not just fair and livable wages, but also an environment where skills can be built and intelligence and passion can be well deployed.”   

What’s your game plan? In 2017, the Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey administered by Nonprofit HR found that “64 percent of the nonprofits surveyed did not have a formal strategy for recruiting employees, and 56 percent indicated no plans on changing this (partially due to funding issues).” This is especially concerning given how long it can take to attract and find strong candidates.   

So, the bottom line is, attracting and hiring quality employees will become more and more challenging in the years ahead. Start investing now, in being an organization that not only encourages its valued employees to stay longer but attracts strong candidates with great potential.

Jennifer Hipple