Recruiting hourly employees when they can work anywhere else

It is critical for small business hiring managers to remember they are competing against massive amounts of job openings for hourly employees.  In the city of Houston, there are around 650 job postings a day on Craigslist for hourly employees.  In Los Angeles, there are 800. Each day!  How do you stick out from the crowd of all the other businesses that are posting?

Most importantly, don’t make it difficult for employees to apply.

Driven by the high turnover in hourly positions, many employers decide that they want employees who want them.  So without realizing it, these businesses implement a minimum requirement that candidates demonstrate through the recruitment process a desire to work for their particular business.  These employers ask for cover letters, expect applicants to respond to emails, or without realizing it, drag applicants through a recruitment process that takes several weeks.    

That’s not how it works for these positions.  Your employees don’t write cover letters, they use text not email, and they need a job ASAP.  

For hourly positions, in our experience, the amount of time or effort an applicant makes applying to your particular position does not predict future job performance or turnover.  Instead, approach recruiting as if it is your job to convince the best applicants you can find to work for you in an expedited amount of time.

Set realistic expectations

The most commonly mentioned frustration from managers is about how to find quality employees.  Finding an applicant who is still available, is within the desired wage range, lives within close proximity to the location, speaks English, answers the phone when the manager calls, and has consistent work experience is hard to find.  If you have accumulated 100 resumes for an hourly position and still have not found an available candidate you may need to rethink your expectations.  

Reviewing resumes in total results in a more accurate and quick decision process for proceeding to the next step with the best of the bunch and deciding which applicants to pass on because they fall too far behind the pack.  Smart hiring managers calibrate their expectations of minimum requirements based upon what is available in the market.  They move quickly to raise or lower standards accordingly or, when standards can’t be lowered, they increase the wage rate or bend on scheduling, distance or other requirements.  

Consider this the next time you think there aren’t enough qualified applicants.  If you are eliminating candidates because you believe they may be job hoppers, you may be eliminating affordable qualified candidates. An extensive study by Evolv looked at 1000 employees’ tenure with the company and their previous job hopping past.  Past job hopping did not predict the likelihood of future turnover.  

Candidates whose resumes demonstrated previous job loyalty with few positions held for less than 6 months did not turnover less frequently than their counterparts who had more shorter duration jobs for 6 months or less.  You may be limiting your talent pool on a false assumption that a record of steady job employment may predict a future loyal employee.  

Remember, you can’t just post once. Each post on craigslist, if it includes detailed job requirements and a wage rate, will generate on average 25 applicants per posting for an hourly position. (This number varies significantly from city to city however.) You may need to repost 3-4 times to generate the 100 resumes needed to get 1 hire through a generic job board posting.  

If you are still searching for the perfect candidate, review your expectations. With a turnover rate at 66% of hourly employees, it may be more prudent to hire and train quickly knowing that 66% of your hires will not be there next year.


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