‘Any Short-Term Hiccups Our Economy Experiences Won’t Change The Reality That We’re In A Labor-Constrained World’

Corey Berkey, SVP of people and talent at Employ Inc.
New data from Employ Inc. shows the biggest pain point for HR leaders is finding and retaining talent, says Corey Berkey, senior VP of people and talent.

What is on the minds of recruiters these days? What are their pain points? Areas of potential opportunities?

Corey Berkey, senior vice president of people and talent for Waltham, Massachusetts-based Employ, shares insights gleaned from the company’s benchmark data about what’s going on in the recruitment world these days. Top of the list: overcoming a challenging labor market.

What are the current challenges facing hiring managers today? And what are their major priorities?

We’re seeing historically low unemployment, record-level turnover, job openings above 11 million, and monthly job growth averaging more than 500,000 new hires across 2022 and into the new year.

This makes it difficult for companies hiring to find quality talent. According to Employ Inc. data, 56 percent of recruiters surveyed said that the biggest challenge in hiring quality talent was that there wasn’t enough talent to fill positions. Yet uncertainty with inflation, drastic interest rate increases, high-profile drops in company valuations, and massive rounds of layoffs dominating headlines have many companies looking to reduce operating costs and tighten spending.

The unpredictability makes it difficult for employers to know how to respond. However, it does not change the major priorities recruiters are focused on today, according to Employ Inc. benchmark data: finding quality talent and improving the speed of the hiring process. And any short-term hiccups our economy experiences won’t change the reality that we’re in a labor-constrained world. Recruiters must do everything possible to maintain a competitive advantage by working smarter, not harder, to attract and retain top talent.

Will hiring remain difficult throughout 2023?

All signs point to hiring remaining challenging for the foreseeable future. As confirmed in recent Employ Inc. benchmark data, 61 percent of recruiters surveyed believe it will remain difficult to hire new employees in 2023. Furthermore, 65 percent of recruiters said their job is more stressful today than a year ago. Even as we see available workers increase, to a degree, we’re still going to encounter challenges processing applicants and surfacing the best possible performers. Since 61 percent of recruiters cited improving the quality of candidates as a top priority for 2023, there are many steps recruiters can take to improve in this area. 

For those companies actively hiring, ensure hiring teams have the necessary resources to compete in today’s tight labor market. According to Aptitude Research, 42 percent of recruiters lack the resources to succeed, and half of the recruiters surveyed would join another organization if it had better technology. Moving from disparate HR technology systems and solutions to a more centralized platform will help ensure hiring teams can handle the complexity of hiring now and in the future.

In addition, it’s essential to prioritize the candidate’s experience. Work to shorten feedback loops, improve communication and collaboration, and engage with candidates more deeply within the hiring process. Ensure the hiring process delivers positive experiences that enhance the company’s employer brand and, in return, bring on quality candidates. 

What are strategies that recruiting teams can implement to attract top talent today? 

Investing in recruiting technology can have an incredible impact on recruiting by increasing the speed of the hiring process and helping recruiters improve the quality of candidates. As mentioned, these are two major priorities for recruiters in today’s labor market. This is why it was unsurprising that the majority of recruiting teams are increasing their investment in recruitment technology in 2023, as confirmed in Employ Inc. data.

Some of the biggest areas recruiters plan to make technology investments are applicant tracking systems (59 percent), diversity, equity and inclusive initiatives (51 percent), candidate relationship management software (50 percent) and sourcing (47 percent). Recruiters not making the necessary technology advancements will be negatively impacted in the hiring process and have a severe disadvantage in attracting top talent.

Another major priority for recruiters today is improving the speed of the hiring process. One of the best ways to do this is investing in AI-powered technologies to source candidates faster, which takes one-third of a recruiter’s time on average. These AI-powered tools can drastically help organizations compete on speed and expand the candidate funnel to combat tight labor markets.

Finally, one of the most significant areas companies can focus on is creating a workplace culture that is attractive to workers today. Workers today desire career advancement opportunities, flexibility in the workplace and strong company leadership. Cultivating a culture of inclusivity and belonging is also important. Per Employ Inc.’s data, 33 percent of HR decision-makers plan to increase their budget for DEI programs in 2023, and 51 percent plan to increase spending on recruiting technology for DEI initiatives. 

Not prioritizing these efforts will leave organizations at a significant disadvantage, so leadership teams must be proactive to ensure they’re overcoming the challenges in today’s labor market to attract top talent. 

What recruiting best practices would you recommend to organizations not hiring currently due to fears of a recession?

First, look at auditing current hiring channels. Identifying which hiring channels work, where the bottlenecks are, and how processes compare to other companies competing for the same talent can help inform your future hiring strategy. 

TA teams should also evaluate technology solutions to ensure they fit the organization’s long-term needs. For those not using purpose-built technology, now could be the time, or you risk losing out on top-tier candidates. Benchmark data from my company found that leveraging a purpose-built recruitment technology solution can speed time-to-hire by 27 percent, lower candidate acquisition costs by 30 percent and increase referral hiring by 18 percent. 

Building a talent pipeline is also vital. Leverage your applicant tracking systems to monitor the conversation status with potential candidates. Monitor your tech stack to ensure you’re sourcing candidates faster, allowing organizations to compete on speed—a major difference in the ability to fill open roles and drive the business forward.

Finally, focus efforts on boosting employee retention. Retaining current employees typically costs significantly less than recruiting and training new employees and can be accomplished by building a workplace that aligns with workers’ preferences. In addition, invest in current employees by creating an upskilling program. Upskilling enables employees to develop more advanced skills through additional education and training, building a more effective team.

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