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Refreshing Insights

The skilled labor shortage continues to create challenges throughout the United States, especially in the Midwest where manufacturing, healthcare and other major industries have a strong presence. Many leaders and HR professionals are familiar with high-level hiring strategies for addressing the issue, such as offering competitive benefits, showcasing your culture, having a strong online presence and more.

To really stand out, however, means you may need to step out of the office to meet prospects face to face, even those who may not have considered working in your industry before (or those you may have overlooked in the past). Consider these five practical ideas for reaching more candidates to help your company close the skilled labor gap.

1. Job Fairs

Standing out at a career fair isn’t always easy when there are multiple organizations vying for attention. To help give you an edge, ask for a list of other companies that will be represented so you can know who you’re up against. Try to benchmark what they may offer prospects and be prepared to answer questions or point out differences (while never disparaging your competition).

Leverage any social media efforts made by the job fair organizer and use hashtags, live videos, photos and more to draw attendees to your booth. Carefully select who from your company will be present at your booth, and ensure they’re not only knowledgeable about your needs, but are personable, friendly, engaging and can clearly communicate your culture and values.

While free, creative promotional items are a nice way to draw people in and should be considered, remember that attendees are there because they’re hoping to connect with a company that could offer a fulfilling career for years to come. Have information available that outlines your job opportunities, creative benefits and culture, and find ways to incorporate interactive technology such as tablets for email sign ups, mobile apps, video showing your people in action and more.

 2. Apprenticeships and Internships

Apprenticeships that offer on-the-job training are seeing a resurgence in the modern workplace as a way to address the skilled labor shortage. There are many benefits of an apprenticeship program, and the Department of Labor reports that 9 out of 10 apprentices remain employed with the employer after completion of their programs. Those in apprenticeship programs are considered employees and can receive highly targeted training to address specific needs within an organization while contributing to the company’s success and their own.

Additionally, internships offer shorter term opportunities for meeting needs and typically are not focused on acquiring a single, high-level skill. Sadly, some companies see interns as a way to get “cheap labor” for a period of time. Strategic organizations, however, treat their intern programs with the importance they deserve and develop a robust program. Provide challenging work that allows interns to prove their worth and, in many cases, become future employees that contribute to the ultimate success of the company.

3. Reconsider Your “Must-have” Qualifications

Enrollment in colleges throughout the United States has seen a steady decline for the past six years, leading some universities to lay off large numbers of employees. Fewer people are pursuing degrees. Why does that matter? If your job descriptions or applications list specific degrees as absolute requirements, there may be fewer candidates to choose from. It may also dissuade someone who has the experience or skills you need but not necessarily the education you prefer.

While certain job functions absolutely require highly developed skills, such as those in the medical field, finance, education, etc., there are many that don’t require higher levels of education. Yet many companies continue to list certain degrees as requirements for employment, leading some candidates who could perform the job to never apply in the first place. Take a second look at your “required qualifications” and eliminate those that are only there for posterity stake. Some of the best employees are those who have the determination to prove they can still excel despite the absence of higher education.

4. Build and Equip Your Leaders

People want to work for great leaders. Even ordinary job duties can feel extremely rewarding when people are surrounded by leaders who bring out the best in them and foster a strong culture where others feel valued and appreciated. Invest in your leaders by offering generational training and helping them to improve their relational and communication skills. Show employees that they, too, can enhance their career by creating opportunities for advancement.

When employees are happy and feel confident in their leadership, they are more likely to help recruiting efforts by referring others, posting on social media, and spreading the word in other ways.

5. Trade Shows

Many industries attend trade shows and expos to raise awareness about their services and products. Those in attendance are often highly qualified and already interested in your industry, so move past promoting your products and also promote your people.

Similarly to job fairs, have information available to hand out to visitors and train your booth workers to also talk about potential career opportunities. You may even want to consider having one of your HR representatives on hand to handle those conversations so others can focus on sales efforts. During down times, they can even visit other vendors to strike up a conversation — you never know where it may lead.

With no signs of the labor shortage improving any time soon, employers will need to get creative with their hiring efforts and think outside the box. Check out our resource below for additional ideas for overcoming the skilled labor shortage.

Want additional help to develop an effective hiring strategy? Contact McClone’s HR professionals today to discover ways you can recruit more workers, create an attractive and engaging benefits package, streamline your hiring processes and give you a competitive edge.

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A collection of articles from the McClone team with the helpful knowledge and insights to ensure your organization is well protected.