Four Proven Recruiting Strategies for High Flying Labor Markets!

Various industries, including: high tech, trucking, accounting, and STEM, are reporting difficult times with recruiting. There just isn’t enough good talent available!

The good news is the U.S. labor force has historical low participation rates. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the March U.S. work participation rate was 63%,[i] far below the highest participation rate of 77% in 1997[ii].

A ready workforce is available if you know where to look and how to attract them.

Some have argued that low workforce participation is merely a factor of retiring baby boomers – and the U.S. workforce is therefore getting smaller. Others, however, including me, see a ready and available workforce, especially when you look at the high numbers of men who have dropped out of the labor force but are still not at full retirement age, the recent drop in women labor force participation rates, the growth of the underground “gig” economy.

Female labor participation rates, for example, have surged since the 1970s, reaching 77% in 1997, although cooling since the great recession to 73% today. That’s far below the levels of female participation in other industrial nations, such as Sweden, France, Germany, The United Kingdom, Spain, and Canada.  Many of those nations have female participation rates in the mid to high 80 percent’s.[iii]  Why is that? The answer is the abundance of flexible work arrangements and benefit practices in these economies, particularly for family leave for both sexes.

The point is that the labor force is there, but how do you lure workers back to your job openings from child rearing, semi-retirement, contracting, or simply taking time off. Here are four strategies:

  1. Flexible Work Arrangements. Many potential employees or contractors don’t join companies because of long commutes and the demands of a long work day being connected by gadgets 24/7. While flexible work arrangements and family leave policies are two of the most important benefits asked for by women, flexible work arrangements are not just a women’s issue any more. The average telecommuter is 49 years old and is slightly more likely to be male than female. Research shows that companies that provide flexible work arrangements and family leave policies for men and women do better with recruiting females and millennials. Many jobs are ideal for home or customer-site-based work at least three to four days a week. The technology and operating norms exist to make these work arrangements effective—even more productive – than being in the office. There are many successful case studies (with documented improvements to productivity and morale and reduced real estate costs) for implementing flexible work arrangements. Success depends on the space, technology and time for how and when employees and teams in your company work! For more information, please see my blog “Flexible work arrangements will help you win the ’war for talent’!”, or my white paper “Form Follows Function” from my website I also recommend
  1. Reach out to your alumni and “close seconds”! If all you currently do for recruiting is post and pray, try direct recruiting with your alumni and “close seconds” (second or third place finishers from previous interviews)! Many of your company’s former employees may not be happy with their new employers. Alumni may be happy to rejoin your company after taking time off for child rearing, contracting, or a few years of semi-retirement. Social networking technologies can help you reach out directly to many of these candidates but I also recommend picking up the phone and calling them directly.
  1. Verify compensation and benefits! In high flying labor markets, you won’t be able to lure employees from a competitor, or a non-labor market participant, with sub-market wages, old-fashioned reward practices, and out-of-date benefits. Make sure your pay practices are up to date, especially family and parental leave, and make sure the average pay of equally qualified and performing women is not sub-par to men.
  1. Speed! Make your internal recruiting process runs smoothly, is lean, and on-time, so you don’t waste candidates’ time with repeated interview trips to your company. Make sure that you respond quickly to the candidates you draw. Clarify everyone’s role in the recruiting process, from recruiters to hiring managers, administrators and interviewers. Track your recruiting process so that you know your best recruiting sources, and how long it takes to source qualified candidates, review resumes, schedule interviews, and generate offers. By starting with your internal processes, you can fix what is under your control and significantly accelerate your recruiting timeline.

Have you made changes to your recruiting strategies lately? What has worked for you? Join the discussion!

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and is a Managing Partner of InnovationOne.US. He works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, leadership development and coaching, innovation, and other strategic initiatives. Please e-mail Victor at or For innovation visit www.InnovationOne.US.

[i] “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” (April 12, 2016, 1:24;46 PM), Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor. Found at:

[ii] Maximiliano Dvorkin and Hannah Shell, (June 22, 2015), “Labor Force Participation: The U.S. and Its Peers,” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Found at:

[iii] Ibid.

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