Hiring over the last half-decade or so has been tough on employers. To borrow a common metaphor, it has resembled a unicorn hunt. You’d search in vain for the perfect talent, knowing your quest would likely come up short. As a result, you’d quickly settle for whatever you could find. In other words, you knew you would never find that unicorn, so you got used to hiring horses with horns glued to their heads.
But then the coronavirus came along. Along with the mounting human cost and the impact to the overall economy, the COVID-19 outbreak has led to significant disruption in the labor market. Mass layoffs related to lockdown orders have put more than 20 million Americans out of work and may lead to an unemployment rate above 20%. That’s a far cry from the sub-4% unemployment the U.S. enjoyed just a couple months ago.
The changing environment should force you to rethink your hiring strategies. With massive layoffs resulting in a significant expansion of the available talent, now might be the time to wait for that unicorn to come along. When unemployment was at its lowest levels since the 1960s, the talent pool was shallow…you often had to settle for whatever they could get. If someone “good enough” showed up for an interview, you had to snap them up as fast as you could.
The COVID-19 outbreak has change this. In many cases, you can now afford to wait for that perfect candidate. But should you? Are you sure to get the best candidate by holding out?
Now or Later?
Hiring involves balancing a number of factors. The key dichotomy breaks down to a simple choice: finding the best candidate versus getting someone quickly. You can wait for the ideal applicant to appear, or you can settle for what you have and do the best you can.
The best balance of these two factors depends on your situation. Even though you might have better choices in the current economy, you still have to consider your specific circumstances. If you have a major hole on your team, or need help quickly to launch an important endeavor, waiting might become counterproductive. On the other hand, if you’re more focused on long-term team building, you can afford to be picky.
Going into the hiring process, assess how quickly you need to bring in your new employee. Set an expected timeline. You can alter it as you review your choices, but having a structure in mind at the start will keep you on track.
Does the Perfect Candidate Exist?
There’s one major problem with holding out for the perfect candidate. That perfect candidate might not exist.
Your current crop of candidates might feel subpar, but, at a certain point, you have to adjust to the market. Your expectations might be unrealistic. In other words, don’t become fixated on your absolute ideal. Market conditions might allow you to hold out hope for a better candidate, but there’s no guarantee you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
Make a wish list for your new employee. Separate the various qualifications into tiers. Create categories like “must-have,” “should have,” “would be nice to have,” and “pie-in-the-sky, would-be-amazing-if-we-could-find-it” traits. Then rate your applicants accordingly. Make sure they fill the basic requirements and, based on the people you meet, you can judge how likely it will be to find those higher-level qualifications.
Keeping Your Options Open
Don’t commit to a candidate immediately. That’s the main benefit of a softer labor market. If you find someone good for the time being, start them part-time. Or look for contract/freelance assignments they can tackle.
This will give you a chance to try them out. At the same time, you can continue your search. If you find someone better, great. If not, you haven’t put your operation on hold while you scour resumes for the perfect fit.
Connect with Top Talent
No matter what the market conditions, finding the right candidate requires a keen understanding of the environment and a deep understanding of the recruitment process. A top-flight staffing firm, like TriStarr, can give you the expertise you need to excel in any situation.
Contact TriStarr today to learn how they can upgrade your hiring process.