The bleak unemployment numbers rolling out of federal and state government offices month after month are a dark cloud for the overall U.S. economy. But there can be a silver lining for employers looking to fill key positions, says agricultural labor management consultant Don Tyler of Tyler & Associates in Clarks Hill, Ind.
"There are more job-seeking candidates available in regions of the country that have had stable employment for many years,” Tyler says. "Many of my clients are finding they now have several good candidates applying for a position where before they felt like they had to take anyone who expressed an interest because there weren't a lot of candidates to pick from.”
To take advantage of the opportunity, Tyler recommends employers consider the following:
Upgrade your hiring process. If you're not using job application forms, job descriptions, employee policy handbooks and so forth, put them in place.
"Many of the new candidates will come from a more-structured business environment,” Tyler says. "If you appear to be disorganized or unprofessional, you may lose your opportunity for making the best hire.”
Be selective. Ask more "behavior-based” questions of candidates that help you get to their motivations, attitudes and values. Examples: "Have you ever had to work with a team of people who did not work well together or did not like each other? How did you deal with the situation?” or "When someone in higher management challenged one of your decisions, how did you react?”
Be understanding. Tyler says employers should expect that some new hires might not stay long if they find a better position or higher pay. "That can hurt you and might seem to be unprofessional on their part,” he says.
"But as an employer, you need to realize they might be in a position where they're trying to keep bills paid based on a previous lifestyle with a higher income.
Another $100 to $200 a month might mean the difference between keeping and losing their home.”
Tyler also advocates ramping up pay for quality hires at a faster rate than you normally would. "It could make the difference between keeping them and losing them for a few more dollars a month.”