More Jobs Than Workers: Where’s the Talent?

By Kristen Harris

In the U.S. there are officially more open jobs than people to fill them.

Periodically we read some exciting stuff, like the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (snappily nicknamed JOLTS).

Wait...before you give up on me, check out Chart 5:

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See that brown line crossing over the blue line, and then dramatically spiking upwards? This never happens. The report states “For most of the JOLTS history, the number of hires...has exceeded the number of job openings... Since January 2015, however, this relationship has reversed with job openings outnumbering hires in all months.” Job hires have steadily increased since 2009, but job openings have increased even faster.

What. Is. Happening?!

A combination of factors are contributing to this unprecedented shift, including a very large Baby Boomer generation retiring in droves; skills mismatch between available workers and jobs that need to be filled; less people participating in the traditional workforce for reasons ranging from disability to opting into gig economy roles; and candidates being confident enough to wait for a better offer.

If one of those 7.5 million open jobs is on your team, how can you still find that great person you need?

  1. Keep the people you have. You know the saying that “it costs more to attract a new customer than to retain a current one”? It’s the same with your talent. Make sure you are offering a great workplace, an engaging culture, the kind of benefits or flexibility that your team members want, compensation appropriate for the role, and opportunities for growth and development. When you retain current employees, of course, you don't’ have to replace them, but also their positive energy can attract others to join your team.

  2. Look in new places. If you look somewhere different, you might find something new. Instead of posting your description to the same job boards everyone else is using, think about other places to find or attract candidates to your business. Are there industry-focused platforms or organizations you can tap into? Groups focused on more diverse populations? How about asking your current team who they know that might be a fit?

  3. Maximize relationships. Who do you know? And who do THEY know? For example, as a staffing and recruiting firm, we have relationships with thousands of talented creative people; we’re constantly building that network and utilizing it to find great people for our clients. How can you tap into a network larger than your own? People trust the opinions of their friends (and even strangers) more than what a company posts on their website. Find ways to leverage real human connections and relationships.

  4. (Re)consider your criteria. When hiring, companies often create lengthy job descriptions focused on required skills and experience, rather than behaviors and expectations. As it turns out, the only qualified candidates work for a competitor, so it becomes a bidding war with companies hiring the same few people back and forth. What if you could find and hire someone your competitor doesn’t even know exists? Focus your job description and hiring process on what’s required to succeed in the role. By considering different backgrounds or experiences, less restrictive educational requirements, more flexible schedules, maybe even a blemished record, you could find amazing candidates your competitor doesn’t even know exist! And, when you give someone a chance, you earn their trust and loyalty.

The balance between open jobs and available workers has been flipped upside down. It’s time to get creative about how and where to find your next great hire! If that next great hire is in a creative role, let us know–we’re here to help.