How Collaborating with HR Can Help Solve Recruitment Challenges

A group of professionals meet to discuss the recruitment challenges their company is facing

The U.S. economy added far fewer jobs than expected in May. Net job gains were just 38,000, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the smallest amount of job growth since 2010. 

The BLS also revised the number of jobs created in March and April, indicating that 59,000 fewer jobs were added to U.S. payrolls during those two months than previously reported.

Since the start of 2016, employers have added 748,000 positions, or an average of about 150,000 jobs per month.

The national unemployment rate edged down to 4.7 percent. That’s the lowest level since November 2007, but the drop is largely due to a reduction in the labor-force participation rate.

One bright spot in May’s jobs report is that healthcare continues to be a major source of new job creation in the United States, adding 46,000 jobs last month. This sector has grown by nearly half a million jobs over the past year.

Demand for top talent still running high

It’s easy to look at May’s jobs report and assume a sky-is-falling mentality. But the overall picture is much more nuanced than a single report illustrates.

For one thing, companies continue to look for new workers. There were 5.8 million job openings at the end of March, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the BLS. That’s very near the record high set last July. In particular, job openings grew in the professional and business services and other high-skilled industries.

Companies also continue to compete fiercely for specialized talent, which is in short supply. The unemployment rate for workers who are 25 or older and have a college degree stood at just 2.4 percent for the second consecutive month. That’s the lowest rate since 2008. More telling, the unemployment rate for these individuals has been below 3.0 percent for 18 consecutive months and has not exceeded 4.0 percent since 2012.

If you’re in the healthcare, IT or creative industry, you know it’s tough to find the skilled talent your business needs to succeed. The accounting and finance industry is also plagued by recruitment challenges. Robert Half recently conducted a survey of CFOs and found it currently takes an average of four weeks to hire for an open staff-level accounting or finance position. For a management-level position, the wait time is even longer: five weeks.

Are you making hiring harder than it needs to be?

The market for skilled workers is certainly tough, and I expect that it will likely remain that way no matter how the overall labor market performs over the next few months. 

But what you may not realize is that you could be inadvertently contributing to your recruitment challenges. 

Tell me if this situation sounds familiar: You identify a hiring need and quickly send off a recruiting request to human resources (HR). After a couple weeks, you start receiving resumes from the corporate recruiting team. But none of the candidates seems quite right. You’re frustrated, HR is frustrated, and the critical role you had hoped to staff ASAP is still open.

There’s a simple but often-overlooked reason for this: You and your HR team are not collaborating as well as you could be.  

Employers often tell me of a significant disconnect between business line managers and HR staff. These two critical players in the hiring process simply don’t collaborate or communicate enough at most companies, and that makes it harder to find the right hires.

Same goal, different approach

The good news is that the solution is relatively simple. It starts with explaining to the internal recruiters you’re working with what qualities and experience you really want in a candidate — technical and soft skills, work ethic, the ability to work as part of a team, the list goes on. 

Never assume HR “just knows” what to look for. Get into the weeds, so to speak, and let the corporate recruiter you’re working with know why certain qualifications are important to you. 

Most line managers can look at a resume and get an immediate gut feeling as to whether a candidate is promising or not, or has the right skill set to perform certain tasks. An HR manager might not be able to intuitively read a resume the same way. 

Internal recruiters also might be relying on automated tools to scan job applications for relevant keywords. This approach, while efficient, does not provide a holistic view of a candidate and is not always an effective way to identify a professional’s potential.

Acronyms and industry terms can also be unfamiliar to some HR managers. For instance, if an accounting and finance manager spots Dodd-Frank or AML on a resume, he or she would know the candidate has anti-money laundering experience. An internal recruiter who helps find candidates for positions across various departments may not make the same connection because that person lacks the same industry expertise. 

A generalist recruiter also may not realize when skills and experience not specifically listed in a job description could nonetheless prove beneficial in the role. 

Regularly scheduled meetings can improve hiring outcomes

I also think it’s wise to hold regular meetings with HR about your hiring needs and recruitment challenges. I don’t mean a quick meeting to review resumes. I’m talking about a forum where line managers and internal recruiters can discuss current and potential openings, progress made toward recruiting candidates for key roles, and the priority of each job vacancy. 

Together, the team should consider important questions, such as:

  • Do we all agree on what we are looking for in a potential hire and how to identify those qualities?
  • Do we all agree on which skills are “must-haves” and which are “nice-to-haves”? 
  • Are we evaluating resumes and candidates the same way? 
  • Are we evaluating technical skills and interpersonal abilities using the same criteria?
  • How can we move more quickly when the right candidate surfaces?

This type of dialogue not only helps to ensure the business and HR approach hiring needs the same way, but it also raises the company’s “nimble factor.” So the next time a white-hot candidate appears on the radar, that person is immediately flagged, the alarm is sounded and the hiring team springs into action. Everyone can then move quickly to secure a great hire for the organization — before the competition swoops in.

The reality of hiring in a tight market

It’s important to remember that, even when line managers and HR move in lockstep, identifying and then hiring the right person is a tough assignment. 

For one thing, you may be just one of many managers trying to staff open roles within the organization. Designating every request as a top priority is simply not possible for a busy HR team. And if you work for a small or midsize business, there may be only a few corporate recruiters — or, in the smallest companies, no HR staff at all — to help move your request along.

You can ease recruitment challenges by helping to keep a full pipeline of potential hires for the internal recruiting team to draw from. Remain an active networker and keep your recruiting hat on when you attend conferences, professional association meetings and other events. Another strategy: Stay in touch with former team members who could become boomerang employees

Also consider enlisting the help of a staffing agency that specializes in your industry. Recruiting specialists can leverage their large networks to quickly identify active and passive job seekers who match your hiring needs. After all, the more eyes you have scanning the horizon for skilled talent, the more likely you will be to solve your recruitment challenges, accelerate your hiring process and secure the best candidates for your team.

Tags: Jobs Report