Hiring in a Tight Labor Market

Hiring in a Tight Labor Market


Can a tight labor market convince employers to hire outside of their talent pool?

The milestone of this past year was the market reality that there were more open jobs than there were people to fill them.

The unemployment rate, at its lowest point in the past seven years, is standing at 3.8 percent through February 2019. A survey by Express Employment Professionals in 2018 revealed that more than three-quarters of respondents reported that it was difficult to recruit for and fill open positions. The top reasons many business leaders are finding it harder to fill positions are:

Lack of applicants with experience
Lack of available applicants
Lack of applicants with hard skills
No available positions
Lack of positions focused on soft skills

According to Bill Conerly, this problem will continue for a decade or more. Recruiting and retaining in a tight labor market, although challenging, can still be successful and get results.


We are seeing a shift in the working population itself. Baby boomers are taking retirement, while the millennials have entered their working years. However, the number of those young people graduating without the skills that the employers are looking for is cause for concern.

James Heckman, Economics professor at the University of Chicago, explains how a motivated and skilled 20-30 year old adult can also be a premium in today’s labor force. In a recent podcast with The Marketplace, he explained, “What managers need are young people prepared to learn. They are worth the investment.”

Despite their ability to learn and take on new knowledge, young adults are not always the perfect fit for jobs that are available.

David Blow, who teaches Economics at the Ohio State University, cites the increases in college tuition as a reason for the skills gap; rising costs are making it harder for students to complete graduation.

A survey by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), found that when hiring new graduates nearly 91 percent of the respondents prefer that their candidates have work experience whereas only 5 percent state that work experience is not a factor.


The skills gap is forcing HR professionals to broaden the search parameters to include hiring individuals who have been formerly incarcerated, for example.

A recent research published by SHRM and the Charles Koch Institute found that 74 percent of managers and 84 percent of HR professionals who answered nationwide said ‘they were willing or open to hiring individuals who have a criminal record.

“Workplaces are transforming quickly, and talent strategies must evolve along with them,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “Organizations can no longer grow without tapping into the reservoirs of potential talent hidden in our communities.”


The time has come when business leaders need to reconsider the depths of their talent pools and rethink hiring and job requirements. Let’s come together to discuss various ways to become more flexible. Join PIHRA on Wednesday, April 10 at PIHRA #RealHR-OC “Don’t fear the Deep-End of the Talent Pool” event for a panel discussion. The panel will explore ways to promote inclusivity in hiring and give untapped talent such as individuals in our community who may have been formerly incarcerated, homeless or LGBTQ+ the ability to thrive and help drive organizational success. For more information, visit pihra.org/realhroc19. See you on April 10th!

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Eliset Zapien

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