This is the first of a two-part series addressing talent acquisition strategies in a time of record-low unemployment.
Earlier this month, the July jobs report confirmed what human resources departments already knew: There simply are not enough qualified job candidates to fill open positions.
At 3.7%, the unemployment rate has remained consistently low for months now, creating significant challenges for employers across a wide range of industries. The challenge is projected to grow, with 80% of respondents to the HireRight 2019 Employment Screening Benchmark Survey confirming that they expect their organization’s workforce to grow this year.
A recent article in CNN Business featured insights from hiring professionals on the challenges they face in hiring and the strategies they’re taking to overcome these challenges. According to the article, some organizations have relaxed some long-standing hiring requirements and policies in an effort to expand their candidate pools and have restructured hiring processes to ensure they aren’t losing top quality candidates.
The approaches these companies are taking are smart, and they align closely with the strategies HireRight is observing among our customers. However, steps taken to broaden the candidate pool and to speed up the hiring process must be done carefully to help ensure hiring strategies are executed without introducing additional risk and will be sustainable in the long term.
Here are key considerations for minimizing risk, if you want to take a similar approach:
- Consider ‘Second Chance’ Hiring
In the CNN Business article, two employers stated they had relaxed their policies on hiring individuals with criminal records. This is an approach encouraged on a legislative level in multiple jurisdictions through “ban-the-box” laws, which typically delay when employers may look into or ask about criminal records until later in the hiring process, with the goal of giving individuals with criminal records a greater opportunity to re-enter the workforce.
A critical caveat to this approach, which is included in almost all ban-the-box legislation, is determining whether any past convictions could introduce a specific risk to the specific position the candidate is applying for. For example, when hiring for a position that will require the employee to be in contact with vulnerable populations — such as children or home care patients — employers can (and should as required by law) pay close attention to past convictions that could put those populations at risk.
- Reassess Drug Testing
To date, marijuana has been legalized for medical use in 35 states, and recreational legalization is increasing on a state-by-state basis. Is it time to rethink marijuana’s place in your pre-employment drug screening program?
In Maine, Nevada and New York, employers soon won’t have a choice: these states are the first to limit or ban screening for marijuana in pre-employment drug testing. But as with criminal background checks, if there are safety considerations for specific positions, employers need to factor that into their screening programs, as spelled out in this new legislation. As HireRight’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Todd Simo points out, “The safety considerations for employees who are working in positions where alertness and keen attention to detail are needed, such as healthcare or manufacturing, are far different from those working a desk job or at a call center.”
It’s important to note that not all employees will be protected by these provisions. Because marijuana is not legalized on a federal level, candidates, employees, and certain contractors at federal agencies are still subject to pre- and post-employment screening, regardless of marijuana’s legal status in their home state.
- Rethink Education Requirements
Back when human resources departments waded through stacks of competitive resumes, candidates with impressive education credentials floated to the top. Many employers, however, are starting to understand that a college education doesn’t always teach candidates the actual skills needed to succeed at a job.
As employers usher in Generation Z (those born from the mid-’90s to mid-’00s) as the latest wave of entry-level candidates, they may find that formal education is becoming less common. A recent survey found that 75% of Generation Z say there are good ways to get an education other than attending college.
Unfortunately, despite this sentiment, candidates are still feeling the pressure to impress hiring managers with degrees in higher education — even if they need to lie about it. In HireRight’s 2019 Employment Benchmark Survey, 30% of respondents said they’d found misrepresentations of education credentials submitted by candidates in the application process — an increase from the prior year, in which 23% of employers had found these misrepresentations.
Whether or not to relax education requirements is ultimately up to you as an employer, but no matter what your decision, it is critical to know whether the education that is represented on an application is accurate.
For example, imagine hiring a senior executive whose resume lists an MBA, only to find out later the degree was never completed or was merely purchased through a diploma mill. Not only might the employee not be truly qualified for the position, but revelation of the lack of a degree could shatter trust among the company’s broader staff and become a PR nightmare among its customers and other stakeholders. A thorough vetting process will take the time to corroborate education claims with legitimate universities or determine whether the source of a diploma was a scam.
As any hiring professional knows, finding candidates is only one part of the equation when it comes to tackling the talent shortage. In the next installment of this series, I’ll discuss how to get those candidates in the door more quickly (all without taking any shortcuts that could increase risk to the organization).