The Trouble with Recruiting: Why Can’t I Hire New Employees?

By Jackie Lee

Having a hard time recruiting? In today’s job market, attracting new talent to your business can be tough. For business owners, recruiting can seem like a never-ending war that eats up your time, money, and resources. 

While you follow up with prospects, maintain relationships with customers and employees, oversee budget and operations, and handle HR administration tasks, recruiting on top of all that can likely make you feel overwhelmed. It can be frustrating being unable to get back to running your business. And you’re not alone:

  • 56% of business owners find it somewhat to very difficult to find the right talent for their business.¹
  • 52% of small businesses find it harder to find employees today than it was a year ago.²

The truth is, there are many factors playing into why business owners have difficulty hiring new employees. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.

Current State of Employment in the U.S.

For starters, let’s take a look at the current state of employment in the United States:

  • Unemployment is at a fifty-year low of 3.5%.³
  • There were 7.2 million job openings in July 2019.⁴
  • On average, 161,000 new jobs were created each month this year.⁵
  • The labor market for young graduates is close to where it was before the recession.⁶

With so few Americans actively looking for jobs, candidates are setting higher expectations and taking more time to find positions that meet them.

What Job Candidates Want

A growing number of online resources like calculators, forums, and company review websites results in job seekers today having more transparency than ever before. This means more expectations⁠⁠— and the evidence to back them up.

As a baseline, job candidates are expecting adequate wages, access to benefits, and a comfortable and safe workplace. In fact, salaries, benefits, and location are the top three factors looked at by job candidates, followed by commute time and employee reviews.⁷

Specific needs and values of candidates tend to vary by generation. While older generations heavily value benefits like 401k, younger generations are looking more at work flexibility. In terms of benefits:

  • Boomers (1944 – 1964) want excellent retirement benefits and paid caregiver leave.
  • Gen X (1965 – 1979) are looking for subsidized family care and work flexibility.
  • Millennials (1980 – 1994) pay attention to family care options and pet insurance/care.
  • Gen Z (1995 to 2010) prefer work flexibility and good company culture.⁸

While Gen Z emphasizes company culture particularly, it’s fair to say that all job candidates care at least some degree about company culture and employee experience.⁹ Job seekers are looking for workplaces where they can be challenged, independent, and recognized so that their work feels meaningful.

As waves of workers begin to retire while others enter the workforce, expectations of candidates are shifting, and pressures on employers are increasing. Does your business meet the standard?

Takeaways for Business Owners

It may seem that large companies dominate the talent war. With more resources, they often have departments of full-time recruiters and can offer higher salaries, competitive benefits, and an endless list of in-office perks. So how do you engage job candidates of all ages with your business as efficiently and affordably as possible?

  • Automate candidate screening: Using an HR platform makes finding new employees more efficient through applicant tracking that automatically screens with skill checks.
  • Emphasize small business culture: From increased advancement and mobility, a broader scope of responsibilities, and a greater sense of community, working at a smaller company has its own advantages. Highlight them!
  • Expand recruiting channels: Are you using social media, LinkedIn, job boards, digital ads, signs, your own website, or the latest trend? Do your own employees help to spread the word or suggest referrals? Consider different ways to post and promote open positions.
  • Assess your hiring processes: Take a deep dive into the effectiveness of the way you hire. Should you open up your talent pool? How long does it take to hire a candidate? Is there a step in your hiring that can be optimized? 
  • Boost your benefits: Small businesses who outsource HR are able to give competitive benefits, comparable to that of large companies, to their employees.

We get it. HR is complicated. The job market is as hot as ever, and many challenges come with standing out as an employer, especially as a business owner always juggling multiple responsibilities. But more people than you think look past the gym memberships and cold brew on tap of corporations. 53% of the American workforce works for small businesses¹º and 33% of them have 100 employees or less.¹¹

It’s time for you to take back control over your recruiting.

What other HR challenges do you struggle with in your business? See how you measure up with 6 others of Today’s Top 7 HR Challenges

¹ http://blog.indeed.com/2018/04/26/small-business-survey/
² https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/17/a-tight-labor-market-is-holding-small-businesses-back-from-expanding-in-this-hot-economy.html
³ https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/04/jobs-report—september-2019.html
https://bized.aacsb.edu/articles/2019/september/job-market-snapshot
https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/salary-benefits-survey/
https://info.prismhr.com/WC-2019-SMB-Win-the-War-for-Talent-LP.html
https://www.forbes.com/sites/larryalton/2017/02/17/why-corporate-culture-is-becoming-even-more-important/#3cc043d569da
¹º https://www.huffpost.com/entry/five-big-myths-about-amer_b_866118
¹¹ https://sbecouncil.org/about-us/facts-and-data/