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Recruiting & Attracting Workforce: Adapting To Current Landscape

Local Stories , Chamber Updates
July 29 2019

This article first appeared in Thriving! magazine and was written by Tony Gorick, Creative Services Manager at the Lancaster Chamber. 

Thriving! magazine is a quarterly magazine by the Lancaster Chamber published by Hoffman Publishing Group

Explore the new July 2019 issue in its entirety online here


Recruiting & Attracting Workforce: Adapting To Current Landscape

It's a challenge the business community is all facing collectively—finding and recruiting workforce.

At a time when the unemployment rate is extremely low,it has become more difficult to not only recruit talent but to keep talent at your business.

We checked in with some local professionals on what they are doing in recruiting efforts and how they look to retain that quality workforce for sustainable success.

“Always keep your ears open—use social media, use the digital world,” says Jen Strobel, Vice President of Human Resources at Flagger Force. “If you are always looking, then when you need somebody that right person is easier to find. If I am talking to you and you are excited about our organization, when I have an opening later it is helpful to already have had that introductory conversation.”

Jen enjoys developing recruiting and hiring strategy for Flagger Force® Traffic Control Services for regions across PA, VA, MD, and DE. She notes the importance of not only identifying possible workforce candidates, but ensuring they are a match for the company culture.

“We are really trying to match people who have the right values and skills that match well with our organization—the characteristics we are looking for,” says Jen. “Of course we will look at the educational requirements for the job as well, but we really emphasize the valuable culture qualities that you are going to bring to the workforce. Ideas like treating people with respect, being honest, enjoying your work, collaborating with others, and working with passion are at the top of our list.”

Though there is a strong need to fill positions, it’s crucial not to risk company culture and the values it has just to get people in the door.

“We have a culture that is palpable—people walk in and can sense the energy and enthusiasm, drive and passion that people have there,” says Jen. “That is really important to us as a team and company to continue that.”

Kathy Gutierrez, Director of Human Resources for professional services firm RKL LLP also offers insight on the challenging landscape for workforce development.

“In the past, recruiters would post a job and the applications would follow,” she says. “With near full employment and tough competition for talent, we have to take a more aggressive and calculated approach to our recruiting strategy. We look at both active and passive job seekers that meet our ideal candidate profile.”

Kathy emphasizes the importance of intentionality in the process.

“All along, we’re using various touch points and communications opportunities to sell the RKL brand and the benefits of working at a firm that’s been named one of Pennsylvania’s top 10 Best Places to Work two years running. Make sure your HR team is aligned around a unified, clear employer brand. Then make sure you’re targeting the right candidates using the right platforms.”

It’s all about targeting potential candidates and pursuing them.

“It’s critical to hone into your search process and develop an ideal candidate profile,” adds Kathy. “Once you have those essential elements to guide you, be confident in what you have to offer candidates and be aggressive in executing talent acquisition strategies.”

But it is more than just getting people through the door, it’s also what happens afterwards.

“Once your new hires are on board, work just as hard to delight your team members and retain them,” adds Kathy.

In this employment climate, constant recruitment has to be the norm.

“With low unemployment and a high local demand for workers we’ve had to become much more aggressive and flexible in recruiting,” says Scott Fiore, President of TriStarr Staffing, a staffing agency in PA and beyond. “Our team has to make decisions about candidates more quickly – therefore we’ve had to speed up our screening process. We have implemented and are looking at new technologies regularly to help us streamline our systems.”

Scott and his team look for a cultural fit for the organizations and companies they are placing staff within, often citing “soft skills” as most valuable.

“Often times it’s the ‘soft skills’—like communication skills, showing up daily and on time, working hard—that trump hard skills. In today’s environment employers are willing to train good people.”

He also cites the competitive nature of the employee market, and what businesses need to evaluate as they look to hire.

“Know what you’re competing against,” Scott says. “We are all competing for candidates. Are your compensation and benefit plans competitive? How are your online reviews? What are you offering that others may not be? These are all important questions to be asking.”

It’s a balance between meticulous recruiting efforts and intentional development of company culture. With the landscape becoming more crowded and with the workforce facing a number of other options, it’s important to make your company stand out—and much of the time that means ensuring your business truly cares for employees.

“If you want to attract and retain talent, you have to demonstrate that you care about the employees—it is essential,” adds Jen. “You have to mean it, you can’t fake it. You have to show you want to invest in that person and help them grow.”

QUICK TIPS FROM THE PROS: 

Be Intentional With Communication Touch Points

“With our ideal candidate profile as a guide, RKL’s recruiting team executes a robust talent acquisition strategy that uses a number of resources. We leverage social media platforms, automation tools, a strong internal referral program and community engagement and brand visibility opportunities to showcase our firm culture and growth potential.” - Kathy Gutierrez, Director of Human Resources at RKL LLP

Get Creative And Think Differently 

“We as employers can get in our own way sometimes, so I like to play the ‘what if’ game. We sometimes are so caught up in the day to day activities we do not recognize policies we have created that may be potential roadblocks for great candidates. We ask ‘what if’ we intentionally went out and hired refugees? ‘What if’ we were able to provide daycare for employees? ‘What if’ we throw some of our own criteria out the window? You don’t have to know an answer, but this activity helps think of new ideas.” - Jen Strobel, Vice President of Human Resources at Flagger Force

Work Quickly

“The biggest tip I’m giving these days is move quickly. Qualified candidates are few and far between – when you find one you want to hire move quickly – you may not be the only company courting them. Too often we present a candidate to a client and the client says they liked them but want to see another candidate. In this market, the time it takes to identify another candidate can cause the initial candidate to be lost to another offer. Be smart in who you want to hire, but once you find that person go for it.” - Scott Fiore, President at TriStarr Staffing

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