July 20, 2018

As Columbus Grows, So Does the Hiring Market

by Phil Freeman, Dawson

In my 52 years of staffing and recruiting at Dawson, I have never seen a more competitive hiring landscape in our market. While this isn’t the first time that the unemployment rate has dipped so low, companies are competing for talent more fiercely than ever before.

The Greater Columbus Market is fortunate to have a history of strong companies like L Brands, OhioHealth, Worthington Industries, Nationwide Insurance and Cardinal Health, but today we are also home to many new, leading companies such as Amazon, lululemon and CoverMyMeds. Everyone is fishing from the same talent pool, and with so many options for candidates, it is much more challenging to fill your workforce.

Take the real estate market, for example. It is common that there will be multiple offers within the first 24 hours a home goes on the market. Home buyers are often approaching homeowners prior to a home listing to see if they can get an edge on the competition, get an offer in before the house is even for sale. Additionally, bidding wars are common, forcing buyers to pay more for their “dream home.” The same is true in our current employment market. Talented job seekers hold the advantage as they can entertain multiple offers, often with competing salaries and benefits.

So, if you are a hiring manager, how can you get ahead of the competition? I advise my clients to start identifying candidates before they are ready to hire. If you meet a candidate you like, chances are other companies will like them too. Much like the new home seller won’t stop showing their house while the prospective buyer continues to look around, a job seeker won’t wait around for your call back; they are going on additional interviews. It is important to hire the right candidate, but once you find someone you like, hire them immediately. If your hiring practices include interviewing with more than one person over multiple days, consolidate your hiring strategy to a more efficient process to eliminate a lengthy timeline, and be ready to make an offer. It’s also important, especially when it comes to hiring legal support staff, to be a bit more flexible when selecting candidates. You may be missing out on some incredible employees who are talented and eager to learn just because they don’t explicitly match all of your qualifications.

Incentives are attractive for candidates shopping for a new job. Outside of a competitive salary, employers are offering other perks, including strong benefits packages, extended vacation time, flex hours, continuing education and remote working opportunities. In addition to these more traditional perks and incentives, companies are getting creative, and it is the creative perks that seem to be the most memorable. Health and wellness benefits include onsite gyms, free gym passes, standing desks and meditation or yoga classes. Smaller companies that don’t have the budget or capabilities to offer the pricier perks use their creativity to offer birthdays off, celebrate more holidays or offer staff celebrations. There are even companies that allow you to bring your pet to work.

Keep in mind, it’s a challenging market, but it’s not hopeless. Our hiring landscape is just forcing us to be more creative with our recruiting strategy and think outside the box to find the solutions to our workforce needs.