In the second part of our series on using design thinking in hiring, we’re going to focus on what job seekers want. And in this tight-as-a-drum labor market, the answer to that just might be “the sky’s the limit.”
What do we mean by a tight job market? The Bureau of Labor’s statistics tells us that the national unemployment rate is hovering at 3.8 percent, which is a historically low level. You can dive deeper into that stat by plugging in the job situation in your state. If you’re in Alaska, you’re looking at about 6.3 percent, which is the highest unemployment rate in the nation, while Iowa is sitting at 2.4 percent, as of the latest figures in December.
Any way you slice it, it’s a job seeker’s market out there. They’re holding all of the cards, whether you’re talking entry level jobs or top tier positions, and hirers, whether it’s a recruiting firm, a manager in a mom-and-pop retail store, or a corporate HR pro, know how difficult the hiring game has become.
If you are one of the lucky firms that can happily load up on salary and benefits, good for you. The rest of you will have to dig deeper to figure out what your ideal hire looks like, and what might attract them to the company. That requires creativity and the ability to empathize with your job seeker — in other words, it requires a human-centered approach — it requires design thinking.
The design thinking process tells us that the best way to solve a problem is to first empathize with the end user (in this case, job candidates). To do that you have to spend time with them in the real-world, talk to them about what exactly they want from a job and an employer, and observe their process for finding, vetting and applying for jobs. Remember to include a variety of job seekers in these interviews and interactions — even those you could never hope to hire, or who don’t fit your job description. These extreme candidates may offer surprising insights about what they are willing to sacrifice to land in a job they love.
Fortunately, this hiring industry is full of data about what these candidates want. A recent survey by Glassdoor, for example, shows that salary and benefits remain a job seeker’s top two priorities, followed by an ideal location. But, what does that really tell you? Not much, when you get right down to it.
However you can use that data in combination with the insights gained from spending time with job seekers, to conduct brainstorming sessions on salary and benefits options that you can realistically offer. What are the obvious go-tos? Put those on the list first, and then stretch into what’s possible, what’s attractive and what’s pie-in-the-sky.
Things to consider:
Salary: Simply offering more money than your competitors is great if your bottom line can support it, but usually, it can’t. So, think about what else can make salary more attractive? For example, letting them know up front in the hiring process what the job pays, what the bonus or raise structure is, and what they can expect as they move up the ladder might cause them to move to the next step in the application process. It also sends the message that transparency is important to your corporate culture.
Benefits: Here is where design thinking can really come into play. For many job seekers, the salary is the foundation that won’t differ too much from job to job, but it’s the benefits that turn the tide — and they don’t all have to be expensive but they do require creativity and innovation. What kinds of creative benefits will appeal to your target audience without breaking the bank?
Location: You may not be able to move your offices, but can you rethink your workplace requirements? Allowing employees to work from home, offering four-day work weeks, and/or paying for access to shared workspaces gives employees the desired flexibility they seek while freeing you to hire people from anywhere in the world.
These are just a few examples of ideas that can emerge when recruiters pay attention to what’s most important to their candidates. But they aren’t meant to be an end-run around the design thinking process. If you want to define your best recruiting package to attract great workers, you have to take the time to observe candidates, empathize with their needs, and generate solutions that will attract them to your company.
Don’t miss part one of how to leverage design thinking in the hiring process.
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