What to Do If You're Having Trouble Finding Employees

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on August 23, 2012

The U.S. unemployment rate is still hovering above 8 percent, so conventional wisdom would hold that small-business owners looking to fill virtually any position should have no shortage of qualified candidates from which to choose.

Turns out, that’s not true. The New York Times reports that many companies are having great difficulty filling both unskilled and highly skilled positions.

Robert Funk, CEO of staffing firm Express Employment Professionals, tells the Times that his company has 18,000 open job orders it hasn’t been able to fill. For example, trucking companies are having trouble finding applicants because drivers need the appropriate license and have to pass a drug test — and it’s “not glamorous work,” Coyote Logistics CEO Jeff Silver notes. Meanwhile, highly skilled developers and programmers are so in demand that many companies aren’t getting the candidates they want.

So what can you do if your existing recruiting efforts are failing?

  • Try a different recruiting platform. You may get plenty of applicants with a Craigslist post, but do your ideal employees look for jobs there? If you’re seeking highly skilled workers, consider advertising on LinkedIn or a niche jobs site, such as Mediabistro for editorial staff or Mashable Jobs for social media. If you’re looking for less-skilled positions, consider targeting college students or recruiting through Goodwill Industries.
  • Encourage existing employees to refer others. Put the word out to your current employees that you’re hiring, and consider offering referral bonuses to employees who pass along the names of the applicants you ultimately hire. Chances are, they know others in similar lines of work and can send some relevant candidates your way.
  • Improve your employee benefits. Why do so many people want to work for Google? Yes, it’s a cutting-edge company, but the perks are what really sell it: Google’s employee benefits include company stock, parental leave, chef-made meals, and even generous death benefits for deceased employees’ spouses and children. By giving potential employees extra incentives, you’ll trump competitors vying for the same candidates.
  • Hire remote workers. If you’re having trouble finding the right workers in your community, consider hiring telecommuters for jobs in which remote work makes sense: Obviously, you’re not going to hire a trucker who won’t travel, but if you’re seeking a website developer, he can do the job just as well from his couch as from your cubicle. Take advantage of online communication and project-management tools like Skype, Gchat, and Basecamp to make sure your remote team members stay on task.