Are You Missing Out On Hidden Talent?

Are You Missing Out On Hidden Talent?

With the shift from an employer job market to a candidate job market, recruiters continue to be pushed to their limits in trying to attract and recruit new talent to their organizations. In this increasingly competitive job market, we will either have to rethink the way we recruit and screen candidates or accept the fact that our time-to-fill metrics will continue creeping up. Below we provide six tips for how recruiters, talent acquisition professionals, and employers can take an inclusive approach to identifying hidden talent among the underemployed and the unemployed.

Labor Market Update

Companies continue to add 250,000 new jobs a month, driving our national unemployment rate down to 5%. In Why Its Hard to Find Talent for Entry Level and Hourly Positions, we show how the unemployment rate is projected to fall to 4.5% by August 2016. This is great news for our economy, but New Labor Market Realities: Recruiting Friend or Foe? shows the impact the talent crunch is having on talent acquisition across industries. Our Talent Crunch Top 5 List summarizes the talent shortage that exists in our current job market.

Since June 2015, our national unemployment has been inching downward. Jobs continue to be added, particularly in professional and business services. In addition to the Top 5 Talent Crunch list, engineering services, health care services (especially in ambulatory health care and hospitals), retail trade, and food and beverage services also have some of the fastest growing number of job openings.

Yet the latest BLS statistics1 show very little downward movement in the number of workers employed part time for economic reasons, i.e., because they are unable to find a full time job or their hours have been cut back. This is also true for the marginally attached, that is, individuals who have given up actively looking for work. These two groups combined account for millions of potential job candidates.

Just think of the following ratios: At the peak of the recession, there were almost 7 job seekers per job opening. Today, that number has dropped to just 1.4 job seekers per job opening.

So what are recruiters and talent acquisition professionals supposed to do?

How to Not Miss Out On Potentially Good Talent

Without outsourcing jobs to other countries or importing talent from other countries, recruiters will need to broaden their talent acquisition strategies to address the impending talent shortage.

Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals will need to shift their organizations thinking — at least for some portion of their talent acquisition needs — from the jobs candidates have done to the jobs candidates can do. This shift in thinking means selecting candidates who want and can develop new skill sets. In other words, selecting candidates who lack the work experience but have successfully completed training programs or earned certificates and degrees from Workforce Development Offices and educational partners like Boot Camps, Trade Schools, and Colleges. Employers also may consider establishing their own Boot Camps, Apprenticeships, Return to Work programs, and training programs that help individuals re-enter the workforce or transition from other industries or positions.

When selecting candidates based on can do rather than have done, many things need to shift in terms of how recruiters and hiring managers assess candidates. Many tips and clues to look for on resumes and in social media profiles are included in Identifying Underemployed Workers.

Beyond talent acquisition and resume review, we need to change how we screen and evaluate candidates. The job interview process and the employment interview guide, in particular, needs to be re-examined. For example, job interview questions need to move from behavioral or experience-based questions to knowledge-based or situational questions. In order words, instead of asking what did you do when happened, you would ask what would you do or how would you do something?

When adding can do rather than have done candidates to your talent acquisition strategies, recruiters need to prepare and coach hiring managers to shift their thinking as well. Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals are well advised to educate internal corporate stakeholders on market realities and the talent crunch that now exists across multiple disciplines. Its also a good time to train hiring managers on unconscious hiring biases. After all, recruiters and talent acquisition professionals can find all the talent in the world, but we still need internal hiring managers to interview and make hire / no hire decisions.

Employer Tips Identifying Hidden Talent Amoung the Underemployed and Unemployed

For more insights on how to address talent acquisition needs please contact us.

1 The Employment Situation – October 2015. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 6, 2015 (

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Why it’s hard to find talent for entry level and hourly positions…the worst is yet to come!

Are you ready for the talent shortage?Infographic About the US Labor Market

With a national unemployment rate expected to reach 4.25% by August 2016, we need to get ready for another war for talent4. As a result, over the next two to three years, we will see the fight for talent strongly intensify.


Because the number of individuals with current, relevant experience (supply side of the candidate pool) is quickly falling below employers’ needs (demand side of the candidate pool) — thus leading to a talent shortage.

As the available supply of labor with current, relevant experience diminishes, employers will need to use pay, benefits, fringes and other working incentives to woo candidates from competitors as well as implement programs to increase the supply side of the labor market.

Recruiting and Talent Acquisition professionals are already feeling the heat to hire experienced hourly employees and staff-level professionals. We are seeing a big push to attract experienced candidates for positions such as technical support, customer service, inbound and outbound sales, banking and financial services, and software engineers.

In Low Unemployment Rate Sparks New Tactics for Recruiters, we described how entry level and experienced, hourly hires have been the largest driver of new job creation. As a result, this demand has thankfully and dramatically driven down the unemployment rate both nationally and locally across states. As early as 2014, we began seeing employers offering many kinds of incentives to experienced, hourly hires including sign-on bonuses and relocation assistance — benefits often reserved for management only positions.

Based on the data being released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we have not seen this kind of labor market since 2006. But this impending talent shortage is nothing new for those of us who have been in the space for longer than we would like to admit. Remember the Y2K IT Talent Shortage? How about the dot com or the pharmaceutical talent shortage in the early 2000s?

Employers have been in the driver seat since 2008, when the number of unemployed individuals per job opening rose from a prior low of 2 to 1 to almost 7 to 1 by mid-2009; meaning there were almost 7 unemployed individuals for each job opening. As Chart 1 shows8, as of July 2015 there is clearly a talent shortage. There are now only 1.4 unemployed individuals for each job opening. No wonder the average time to hire has increased by 10.3 days and will continue to do so (New Labor Market Realities: Recruiting Friend or Foe?).

BLS Chart 1 Unemployed to Openings

Very few employers will be able to pay employees at the top of the pay scale as a strategy for attracting all the talent they need to address the talent shortage. Even the few who can and do, will not be able to do so for every new hire. Let’s also keep in mind that what has mostly driven our low employment rate has been cheap labor, with job gains going disproportionately to the least educated, and lowest-paid workers5.

Addressing the Supply Side of the Talent Shortage

There are other ways to increase the supply side of the candidate pool for employers without outsourcing or importing talent from other countries. But to do this, employers will need to broaden their talent acquisition strategy to address the impending talent shortage.

There is a big opportunity to do so.

If you combine the (a) recent unemployed and (b) long term unemployed (i.e, those looking for work for 27 weeks or longer) with (c) the marginally attached workers (i.e., those who are on the verge of giving up or stopped looking for work), the unemployment rate increases twofold from 5.2% to 10.4%6. This 10.4% does not include the almost 6.5 million workers who are working part-time (some working as little as an hour a week) but who would prefer full-time work7. With all these individuals sitting on the sidelines this is an enormous supply side – candidate pool – to tap into.

So why are we seeing the emergence of a “Talent War” for tech support, customer service, inbound & outbound sales, billing, collections, order processing, loan processing, software engineers and similar?

Answer: The demand for “Current, Relevant Work Experience” exceeds supply.

A talent shortage is partly the result of employers’ unwillingness to step outside of their comfort zone. There is comfort in hiring those who currently do the same job as the one you want to hire them to do for you. Candidates with current, relevant work experience are able to articulate and describe how they perform the job you need them to do and have recent examples to describe how they carry out their work. In contrast, an individual who has not worked in many months or lacks experience in your particular line of work requires a much stronger leap of faith that they will be successful within your company.

With over 5 million job openings, unless we hire everyone who has been unemployed for less than 6 months, we have to address the talent shortage with a strategy beyond passive, direct candidate sourcing and recruiting of individuals doing the same or similar job for a competitor. For entry level and hourly positions, employers should start building talent acquisition strategies to source, recruit, and screen candidates from the long-term unemployed and part-time workers with transferable skills, as well as retirees and parents who want to return to the workforce.

To address the supply side of the talent shortage many employers will need to add Return to Work and Apprenticeship programs for some portion of their talent needs. Many entry level & hourly positions already begin with structured training programs. Thus, adding content to training to bring individuals’ knowledge and skills up-to-date can pay big dividends. Partnering with local workforce development offices and other workskills development providers is a great way to give candidates the opportunity to ready themselves for your work requirements.

To source, recruit and screen candidates who do not have current work experience, employers need to use recruitment and screening methodologies that focus on aptitudes and competencies. Rather than focusing on recent work experiences, address the talent shortage by recruiting and selecting candidates who have the core work ethics, competencies and aptitude to successfully perform the job given a reasonable amount of upfront training. For insights on competencies for contact centers please review Call Center Agent Recruiting & Selection: Is a single competency profile enough? For specific recommendations on How To Find Great Talent Among the Underemployed Workers see Identifying Underemployed Workers: How to Find Great Talent.

1Schwartz, N. & Applebaum, B. (Sep. 4, 2015). Jobs Report Gives Ammunition to Both Sides of Fed Rate Debate, NY Times.
2Jackie Odum & Michael Madowitz (Aug. 6, 2015). The State of the U.S. Labor Market: Pre-August 2015 Jobs Release, Center for American Progress.
3 Hilsenrath, J. (May 22, 2014). More Gloom for the Long-Term Unemployed from Alan Krueger, Wall Street Journal.
4 Jakab, S. (Sep. 5 – 6, 2015). Jobs Report: What’s Not to Hate? Wall Street Journal, B12.
5 Achutan, L. (Sep. 10, 2015). Glimmers of Hope or Growth Slowdown for U.S. Economy. Bloomberg Business.
6 Republic 3.0 (March 2015). Jobless Rates Fall, But the Long-term Unemployed Still Struggle.
7 Innovate+Educate (2014). Skills Based Hiring.
8 BLS charts are from

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Call Center Agent Recruiting & Selection: Is a single competency profile enough?

Call Center Agent Recruiting & Selection: Is a single competency profile enough?

What’s The Business Value of Call Center Agents?

Call centers have well defined performance metrics. Want to grab the attention of the C-Suite? Then ensure your recruiting and selection efforts enable the call center agents to meet or exceed the centers performance metrics and deliver real value to the business bottom line.

When it comes to servicing customers — whether it be for technical support, product information, billing and payment processing, or online shopping assistance — quality counts.  Call center agents, whether in an inbound, outbound or blended contact center, perform a vital function that drives sales, maintains customers and most importantly, builds brand loyalty.

Sixty (60%) percent of buyers prefer to pay more for better customer service. Eighty-six (86%) percent will stop doing business with a brand because of bad customer service experiences.  Eighty-nine (89%) percent of buyers will migrate to a competitor after a poor customer interaction with the original brand1.  If these three reasons are not compelling enough to receive the recruiting budget and timeline you need to positively influence your company’s bottom line, then consider the following fact.  Buyers are more likely to share their negative experiences than their positive ones.  With the rise of social media, negative reviews can rapidly reach thousands of people and impact a company’s reputation in just a few short business hours.  Now more than ever, customers are the ones who promote a company’s brand. The ability of call center agents to deliver superior customer service, be it order, billing, account maintenance or help desk support, can give a company an edge over its competitors.

We are all in agreement that empty call center seats have real cost to the business, but so do seats occupied with the wrong talent. More and more, call centers are investing heavily in call center agent talent acquisition and recruiting in an effort to add good talent to their teams. As discussed in Recruiting Budgets, is it money well spent? investing in recruiting and selection can pay dividends.

Identifying Quality Call Center Agent Talent Is Simple Right?

In order to deliver quality customer service and maintain strong relationships with clients, companies need to identify and employ competent and skilled call center agents capable of turning each customer into a loyal brand ambassador.  Based on our experience in high volume call center recruiting, the biggest challenge for recruiting and HR professionals is determining how to select the best talent for such positions when the competencies needed to perform these duties change and evolve constantly.  Many contact centers use multiple channels to provide quality service to customers via phone, email, online chat, and in some cases video chat.  Each channel requires a unique constellation of competencies to perform well, and a call center agent who might perform well using one channel may not be able to perform equally as well at another.  This makes it important for recruiters to identify what competencies are most important for specific roles before starting the search for qualified candidates.

Recruiters should begin by deciding which relevant competencies can easily and reliably be assessed and how to sequence them in terms of priority for the selection process.  For example, listening skills would be more important for representatives responding to customers via phone or video chat compared to those addressing customer concerns through email and text chat, where reading comprehension plays a greater role. Similarly, written communication skills and attention to detail would be more critical for call center agents communicating via text chat and emails than over the phone.

Against our advice, a client of ours once promoted their best customer service agents from phone-based support to email and text chat support only to find many of them unable to satisfy customers.  One funny example that comes to mind, which was not so funny at the time, was when a well-intended call center agent responded with I am sorry our product damaged your sh*t when he meant shirt.  Clearly, not all competencies are created equal across the different call center agent roles. Identifying and assessing critical competencies for successful performance is key for selecting the right quality candidates.

Obviously, not all call center agent positions are the same.  The competencies important in customer service positions also vary based on the type of call center and the services they provide.  For example, inbound center agents may need high level skills with conflict resolution, problem solving, technical trouble-shooting, or empathy.  An outbound center agent may require greater skills in presentation, negotiation, and relationship building.  Likewise, agents who communicate with customers through multiple channels may require higher level skills across a broader spectrum of competencies than a representative that focuses on a single channel.

As call centers adapt and change into contact centers with multiple customer service channels, companies will need to refine their competency models and change the candidate profiles of who they recruit and hire.  Reviewing and identifying critical competencies for specific positions can significantly impact the quality of candidates selected and, as a result, contact center performance.  Since quality customer service plays a critical role in a company’s ability to maintain business relationships with customers and protect its brand, ensuring that call center agents have the necessary skill sets at the appropriate level is a critical factor in ensuring business success.

How Call Center / Contact Center Agent Recruiting Professionals Can Impact the Business

  • Critically evaluate the competency model with the hiring team to ensure it is appropriate for the specific role you are recruiting
  • Build your candidate sourcing strategy from the competencies established for each unique role
  • Screen candidates for the specific competencies associated with each call center agent role
  • Revise your sourcing strategy and candidate screening process as positions evolve
  • Look beyond call center / contact center experience and focus more on the underlying competencies required for successful performance to build wider candidate pools
  • Partner with the hiring team to ensure recruitment and selection strategies are yielding hires that positively influence the key performance indicators that impact customer satisfaction and help the business meet its objectives

For more information about how to identify and connect critical call center agent competencies to call center recruiting strategies, please contact us here at The WorkPlace Group.


1. Top Contact Center Trends for 2015 – Compare Business Products

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Social Recruiting: Using the Right Social Media Channel For the Job

Social media is a term that is heard a great deal these days. As frequently as it’s heard, one could start to think that it is the cure-all solution for just about every business need, including recruitment. Using social media for recruiting, sometimes called social recruiting, often utilizes multiple media channels. As a result, the notion of a single source of hire is becoming considerably less relevant, if not completely obsolete.

As The WorkPlace Group has discussed in its blog post Source of Hire: Capturing both the chicken and the egg, utilizing multiple sites and sources provides many different ways for candidates to learn about your company and its open positions. By the time candidates click on the “Apply Now!” button, they have likely seen information about your company and openings in job postings, tweets, industry blogs, emails, referrals from others and/or even online reviews of your company.

Why Use Social Recruiting?

Creating positive employment branding messages and a positive recruitment experience can both influence candidates to apply for positions as well as refer others in their network to do the same. The question then becomes, how do you utilize a mix of social recruiting tactics effectively to promote your employer brand, help attract qualified candidates for your current openings and build a talent community for future openings?

Social media can provide persuasive communication channels on a global basis to capture the attention of both potential job seekers and gainfully employed candidates.  Social recruiting is a great way to create and establish your corporate and employment brands, communicate your current job openings and future needs for talent as well as establish more personal on-going relationships with your candidates.

Which Social Media Sites Should We Choose for Social Recruiting?

With so many social media channels available to us, which ones should we choose for recruiting? In evaluating sites for social recruiting, it’s important to understand the differences and strengths of each media outlet. User demographics, usage, relevance and accuracy of information are important criteria to determine whether the social media channel has a user base that is representative of your target talent needs. Below is an overview of the most popular sites used in social recruiting: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of recruiters report that they have hired a candidate through social media, with LinkedIn being by far the most popular source at 79%. Facebook was a distant second, with just 26% of recruiters reporting a hire from that source.1  However, Facebook has a much larger user base, with over 1 billion users, compared to LinkedIn’s 187 million.

There are also differences in each site’s demographics regarding age and gender. LinkedIn and Facebook are more popular with users over the age of 45,while Twitter is more popular with millennials between 18 and 29. LinkedIn’s user base is 67% male, so it might not be the most effective way to reach female candidates. Although not typically used for social recruitment, Pinterest leads the pack with an 80% female user base.

It’s also very important to take into consideration the best uses of different social media sites. A social media site’s effectiveness as a social recruiting source can be affected by more than just your company’s efforts. LinkedIn, which is widely viewed as the traditional site for business-related social media, is better for searching and contacting candidates, but Facebook and Twitter are better for generating employee referrals. Only 14% of LinkedIn users check their accounts regularly, so messages can frequently go unnoticed and information can quickly become outdated.  While you’ll probably reach more job seekers on Facebook, actual job posts will get more views when they are posted on LinkedIn. As for Twitter, although you may reach more millennials there, it’s virtually impossible to post a full job description in just 140 characters.

In addition to using social media as a way to convey job openings and searching for candidates, recruiters also use social media sites to “research” candidates. A whopping 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn when sourcing candidates because it typically gives a broad outline of the person’s professional background.  Looking at a person’s Facebook or Twitter accounts can give recruiters information on candidates that might not be apparent from their resume alone. Ninety-three percent admit to “snooping” on applicants’ social media profiles before deciding whether to proceed with them or recommend them for a position.

The Right “Social Media” Tool for the Job

Not all social media sites are created equal.  When putting a social recruiting strategy in place, select social media channels that are aligned with and facilitate achievement of your recruitment objectives. A social media site’s user demographics, usage, and currency of information are all important criteria that impact which sites you should use and how (e.g., employment branding vs. promoting a job posting vs. direct candidate sourcing).

As with many other areas of recruitment, the ball is definitely in the court of the employer and recruiter when it comes to creating engaging employment brand messaging and a positive recruitment experience for candidates. The WorkPlace Group has extensive experience using social media to help our clients maximize the impact of their recruitment efforts. For more information about how to incorporate social recruiting in your talent acquisition efforts, please contact an associate at The WorkPlace Group® today.


1 Surveys by and

2 Kiss, J. (2014). Facebook

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How Important is the Candidate Experience During the Hiring Process?

With the number of people in the workforce, and the number of businesses – from startups to public global companies – candidates have a wide range of career options. With the latest job reports, showing unemployment at 5.5%, its lowest level since 2008, job seekers are back in the driver seat. Employers now need to be concerned with the degree of satisfaction candidates have with their hiring process. A poor experience will deter future candidates from applying to the employer’s open positions and top talent will likely reject the employer’s job offer.

The Candidate is Your “External” Customer Too

When we think of a company’s “brand,” we typically think of a specific product or service.  Your service or product represents the collective organization.  Candidates will be attracted to your organization because of what you do and how you do it.  The expectations candidates have of your organization area direct reflection of your brand.  And it’s important that your “Employment Brand” is experienced in the same positive manner as are your products and services.  Good experiences travel fast, but bad experiences travel even faster.

Whether your business provides a service to others or you are trying to sell a product, you are always responsible for servicing not only your external customers, but also your internal customers – your employees. And while recruiting, you must also consider your candidates as customers or prospective customers. Your corporate brand may not necessarily always match your employer brand, but in order to attract top talent, you must market your corporate employment culture. In doing this, human resources becomes your corporate employment brand ambassador.

Why You Should Create a Positive Candidate Experience

It is very important to always create a positive candidate experience, regardless of whether you hire the candidate or not. Each candidate has an opinion and a voice that could potentially be heard all around the world, thanks to the Internet. A negative candidate experience can affect a candidate’s desire to work for you, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that others outside your organization will hear the (not-so-positive) story. It is well known that the public is more inclined to vocalize their opinions about a negative experience rather than a positive one. And with social media and other review websites being so popular, it’s easy for that one negative experience to be shared easily and quickly.

The WorkPlace Group’s Advice For Creating a Positive Candidate Experience

Though there are a lot of moving and interconnected parts to creating a positive candidate experience throughout the recruiting and selection process, by following a few simple tips you increase your chances of leaving a positive impression on your candidates. By making the experience a positive one, you will be setting yourself apart from other employers and ultimately set yourself up for high quality hires.

1. Simplify your employment job application process

If your job application is too long, candidates can easily be turned off and may not finish completing the application or choose not to complete your employment application, at all. If it is overly complicated, it could confuse or deter candidates from continuing in your hiring process, as well.

2. Make sure your job descriptions are accurate

Write out the job description as if you were performing the job. Do not use a stock job description found from another company or position you think is similar to the one in your company. The job description should accurately represent what the candidate would be doing, if hired. You should also ensure that all job descriptions are posted with no typographical errors, as they negatively impact your employment brand.

3. Customize Form E-mails

If you must use e-mail templates, brand them. Make them sound less like a form letter and more like a personal message to a candidate. You want to make sure candidates know that there are humans behind your Applicant Tracking System and the are not left feeling like just another number (or, in this case, resume).

4. Communication is key

Communication is key to shaping the candidate experience. If you aren’t communicating in a timely fashion with the candidate, then the likelihood is pretty good that the candidate will get frustrated, and possibly even lose interest. So, if you expect to accept applications for a few weeks, don’t create the proverbial “black hole” for the candidates that have applied in the first couple  weeks.

If you receive an application, confirm that you’ve received it. Provide updates throughout the screening and selection processes so the candidates are not kept hanging and wondering. And, if you know a particular candidate or applicant will not be hired, tell them right away.  Do not wait until the job application process closes to tell candidates that they will not be hired. Candidates may not be happy that you did not extend a job offer to them, however, they will appreciate you being respectful by keeping them informed about where they stand throughout the hiring process.

5. Pick up the phone

If you’ve interviewed candidates, whether in person or over the phone, and have decided not to move forward with them, it vastly improves the candidate experience if you pick up the phone to personally let them know of your decision. This creates a more personal experience and sense of trust and respect of you on the part of the candidate.  And be sincere. This is potentially a person’s career and life on the line.  Deliver the message you would want delivered to you, if you were in the candidate’s shoes.

These are just five easy and basic tips to creating a positive candidate experience during the recruiting and selection processes. Attracting top talent is more difficult today than it has been in years past due to the opportunities available, as evidenced by the low unemployment rate.  To speak with one of our experts about your candidate experience, contact a WorkPlace Group® associate today.

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