Make no mistake; today’s senior living job market is unlike anything we’ve seen before. With the economy at or near full employment and the number of senior housing units at, or near, an all-time high, the challenge to recruit top talent has never been greater. Companies need to adapt their hiring practices and mindsets to attract top-tier talent in order to compete in today’s environment.
During the Great Recession and economic recovery, the job market was employer driven, meaning there were more candidates than jobs. Employers had their choice of multiple qualified candidates for a single position. This allowed companies to be very particular, lengthening their hiring processes, adding additional screening steps, and overall, adopting the mindset that they were in charge of the hiring process and candidates were lucky to be interviewing. To a large extent, this was true. Jobs were more scarce and employers often had their pick of several qualified candidates who were happy to be considered for the right position. HOWEVER, as the Nobel Prize winning poet said… “Times, they are a changing”. Now there are more jobs chasing fewer candidates. Most candidates know they are in demand and are behaving accordingly. They have higher salary demands, are more difficult to pin down and are typically courting multiple job offers at the same time. Employers today should expect that when they extend an offer, their candidate is receiving multiple offers at the same time. This is one of the most candidate-driven hiring markets the senior living industry has ever seen. Recruiting and hiring top talent the same old way is a recipe for disaster.
So, if candidates are now driving the job market, how can your company adapt current hiring practices to snag that perfect hire quickly, before a competitor snaps them up? It’s easier than you’d think. The biggest challenge you’ll face is changing your perception.
1. Map your hiring process. Speed, speed, speed. Every candidate is entertaining multiple job offers, so your hiring process needs to be adapted and refined for efficiency. Remember those days of multiple interviews and site visits over a period of weeks or even months? They’ve got to go. The interview process needs to be tailored for speed.
Interview quickly! If a qualified candidate is identified on Monday, how long until you’re scheduling an interview? Then you must consider, how many interviews and with whom? Streamline the process whenever and wherever possible. Suggestions include scheduling an informal roundtable interview, where 2-3 key stakeholders who don’t make the hiring decision, but whose opinions you value, meet with the applicant immediately following their formal interview. That way everyone involved in the decision making process meets and interviews the candidate on the same day, allowing you to move quickly to the offer stage if there is a good fit.
2. You’re not the only belle at the ball. The candidate has other choices and you are always competing against another company. Adopt a more customer-service focused mentality and roll out the red carpet for candidates. Have a welcome board in the lobby, put the candidate’s name on it so it is one of the first things they see when they come in for an interview. Be incredibly responsive and likeable. Follow up often, it lets the candidate know you’re very interested in them, which increases the odds they’ll be honest with you and tell you about a competing job offer, giving you the chance to counter.
3. The Jerry McGuire effect. Show candidates the money! If you don’t, your competitor will. Increasing starting salaries may be hard to swallow, but consider the cost of a critical position remaining open for a long period of time – or worse, hiring a low cost candidate, who turns out to be worth what you paid – resulting in a bad hire. A recent SHRM survey found the loss of just one key hire can cost up to five times the amount of a bad hire’s annual salary. And, this doesn’t include the effect a bad hire has on workplace morale, productivity, and the negative effect turnover has on corporate culture. When you consider it from this perspective, you can’t afford not to reevaluate starting salaries for market competitiveness.
4. Create a corporate culture that sells. We’ve all been there when making a decision; if all things are equal, the deciding factor that sways people one way or another is often the intangible, “Who do I like more?” This begins with the first interaction. If you keep a candidate waiting for an interview, what signal does that send? Think about your corporate culture and ask yourself if the energy within your company sells itself. If not, regroup. Take the time to discover what your organization’s reputation on the street is. If you have image issues, be prepared to address them in advance. When thinking and planning long-term, the Millennial generation is where your next generation of executives and leaders will come from. Think work/life balance, technology and a clear path for advancement to create a culture that sells.
5. Consider partnering with an outside search firm that specializes in senior living. Think about it. If you were to divide your company into three tiers of employees –superstars on top, average performers in the middle and low performers on the bottom, which tier do you think is most likely to be actively searching and surfing the job boards and social media sites for a new job… Do you really want to limit your prospects to active candidates? In this marketplace, most strong candidates are not active on job boards and social media. The right search firm can give you access to those passive candidates you wouldn’t otherwise see.
When selecting an outside search firm, consider the following questions.
1. Do they specialize in your niche?
2. Do they have a proven track record of 10, or more, years of experience?
3. Do they have long-term client relationships? Is the majority of their business with repeat clients?
4. Do they offer flexible engagement options? No two searches are the same. Look for a firm that allows you the flexibility to choose between retained, contingency and priority searches.
In today’s candidate driven marketplace, it’s still possible to secure top-tier talent, but it may not feel that way if you’re still using the same hiring practices from 10 years ago. The job market is just like any other; as conditions change you have to evaluate, change your strategy, and adapt to thrive.