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Top Recruiting Challenges for Summer 2015

In Human Resources — by Erin Engstrom

Summer’s a good time for most people. Longer days, more sunshine and happier coworkers. Most people’s workload is a bit lighter in the summer months, which means a less stressful environment to work in, and a better ability to focus on the work in front of you. Unfortunately, recruiting’s a year-round proposition, so you can’t afford to let good candidates slip away. You have a few challenges specific to this summer, some old, and some new. But if you’re aware of them and know how to tackle them, you should be able to come out on top and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Job Participation is Shrinking

The job market has finally normalized since the turbulent economy in 2008, and the unemployment rate ( 5.3 percent as of June ) is improving. Job participation , however, is declining–a result of the current and impending retirement of Baby Boomers–and is at its lowest rate since 1977. Justin Wolfers ( @JustinWolfers ), economist and professor at the University of Michigan and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said:

“The decline in labor force participation is not, in fact, a new phenomenon. It looks like this has been a long, slow trend since about the year 2000. But it’s a trend that sped up around 2008-2009.”

This means most potential candidates are fine right where they are or aren’t looking for new opportunities because their working years are nearly over. As a recruiter, this makes your job much more difficult: All the good candidates are somewhere else. To compete, recruit qualified passive candidates aggressively through social interaction and strong employee referral programs. The tools will also help you retain the interest of candidates you’ve already attracted even when you’re not actively hiring.

Wages are Largely Stagnant

Despite the influx of new jobs flooding the job space, wages haven’t kept up. In fact, for the average worker, they have remained motionless. As a recruiter, you face the challenges of an organization that offers a higher salary or more benefits in the compensation package. Unfortunately for the typical employee, the typical job seeker, hourly wages only increased 2 percent year-on-year in February 2015.

This makes the competition for high-performing and qualified talent even fiercer. As we hit the peak of summer months, keep a strong focus on what makes your organization–and the position–attractive for candidates. Your talent competition might have the salary you can’t offer, but you might have the culture, opportunities and benefits they don’t. Remember, it’s notalwaysabout the dollar.

You May Be Competing Against Fast Food

One industry where wages are actually on the rise? Fast food. These workers have long been fighting for higher wages, and they’re gaining way. The city of Seattle already has a $15 minimum wage, and New York is set to make a decision on the matter sometime soon . If the movement for higher wages in that industry continues to take hold, it could negatively impact interest in entry-level positions at many organizations.

There’s a chance that the increases will actually lead to displacement at many fast food restaurants , but that’s not exactly a silver lining for recruiters. The workers displaced will likely be the less qualified ones, meaning you may face the choice of leaving your good entry-level positions empty or filling it with an unqualified or underqualified candidate.

Employees and Candidates are on Vacation

The majority of Americans (68 percent) say they’re planning to take at least one trip this summer , which means some of the people you’re trying to hire might be away on vacation. It also means you could be understaffed as you try to grow your company (that number probably includes your employees, too!), slowing down the process and possibly losing candidates along the way.

Passive candidates–which account for 75 percent of all candidates–are particularly challenging to recruit if they’re out of reach. These candidates are also more likely to be away: Since they’re passive, they probably already have jobs, meaning they’re going to take their vacations during the summer as well. To maximize your chances of connecting with vacationing candidates, make sure you have a follow-up strategy that takes place over a longer period of time, so you can account for days they’re inaccessible.

As a recruiter, you have your summer work cut out for you (unless you’re planning on taking a vacation yourself!). Between a shrinking labor force participation, stagnating wages, movements in industries you can’t control and vacation season, summer 2015 can be difficult for recruiters. But by aggressively attracting passive candidates through social and referrals and creating longer follow-ups, you should be able to hit your hiring targets come fall.

About the author
Erin Engstrom is the web content strategist at Recruiterbox. I’m in Chicago for now, but hope to take advantage of Recruiterbox’s remote workplace and do the digital nomad thing. Relax and eat the elephant one bite at a time.

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