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Riding the Labor Wave: Finding the Right Time to Hire

As workers shift locations around the country, expand their working base, and change the borders of America’s commute, the talent pool available to companies has grown exponentially. It also means that employee candidates are willing to wait for the perfect opportunities (or move on to greener pastures) when choosing their next position.

With so much unknown about the ever-shifting labor market, it can be difficult for organizations to know when to make hiring decisions. Hire too early, and you may run on thin margins; hire too late and you risk burning out key employees.

Here are some strategies that can help human resource departments understand the current labor market and decide when and how to hire strategically.

1. Change your hiring mindset

According to Dr. Dan Harrison, founder and CEO of Harrison Assessments, a predictive talent acquisition assessment that focuses on helping HR and talent management professionals across the talent life cycle, corporations need to adjust their mindset when searching for employee candidates.

"Many companies approach talent management with a finite (or win-lose) mentality. Finding more people and hiring the best talent is deemed critical to 'win' the talent game," Harrison says. "Although there may be some truth to this idea, such a limited view of talent management causes leaders to overlook the purpose of continuing the play (i.e., approaching hiring, developing, and retaining top talent as everyone’s job with no winner or loser)."

In order to help hiring managers interrogate their current mindsets, Harrison lists several possible strategies that can help build an “infinite mentality.”

  • Offer real and compelling benefits: Ask for employee feedback about their needs and follow up by providing more employee perks, extra PTO, hybrid work options, or other benefits that employees desire.
  • Create mutually beneficial relationships: All employees are different. Great leaders should get to know their employees to ensure that their skills and interests match their current role, leading to greater satisfaction in the workplace and higher engagement.
  • Make talent management a group effort: If everyone works together to create a positive, fulfilling workplace, everyone can take ownership of their role within the company. Tailor communication channels to employee preferences and encourage your company leadership to consider employee welfare when making large-scale decisions.

2. Know the value of communication

No one likes to be left out of the loop. One of the most consistent complaints I’ve heard from job seekers is the frustration of intensive hiring processes and a lack of communication from managers.

Imagine you’ve gone through the application process, updated your resume, crafted a cover letter, and attended an interview. Each of these steps takes time, forcing candidates to wait days, weeks, and, yes, even months between the next step. At each phase, companies have the option to communicate with job seekers.

When looking to bring in new talent, company leadership and your hiring team should create a communication plan for applications. Decide from the beginning what deadlines and processes you will share with candidates. For example, if your company has decided on two rounds of interviews (one initial interview with the hiring manager and a second-panel interview with leadership), inform potential hires.

Similarly, set clear expectations when you invite them to continue their application. Will applicants be expected to complete an exam or provide a portfolio of work? Should candidates expect a trial project? By setting clear expectations for applicants, you offer them the chance to prepare and showcase their best work.

3. Create a "headcount plan" to remain flexible

As much as economists like to predict the future, the reality is it’s best to prepare for a few surprises. With rising prices in transportation costs, housing, and daily necessities, employment is similarly in a state of flux. In order to make ends meet, many households are re-evaluating their needs and looking for higher-paying positions with better benefits and more stability.

One of the best ways to plan for these times of economic upheaval is by creating an accurate headcount plan encompassing current employees, unfilled roles, and company needs. Leaders and talent acquisition managers should be creative in their hiring solutions and stay flexible as they try to meet their growth and profit expectations.

For instance, the growing gig economy has increased the number of experienced freelancers and contractors in the workforce. A company that’s looking to trim certain departments and roles may find hiring freelancers to be a viable option rather than investing in a full-time employee. Conversely, managers should collaborate across departments and consider expanding roles or offering an internal promotion to increase retention rates.

Don’t forget about hiring logistics. Check in with your talent acquisition teams to coordinate large-scale hiring plans or potential layoffs. Can they handle the number of potential candidates you plan on interviewing, or should you hire new recruiters and human resources personnel first?

Even though current upheavals in the market can feel overwhelming and incomprehensible, there are solutions to today’s hiring issues. Companies that cultivate this “infinity mindset” and build a reputation for communication will always attract quality candidates. When leaders create positive and innovative working environments, the economy, the labor market, and employees all benefit.


This article was written by Rhett Power from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to

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