During the early years of the most recent recession, according to the Department of Labor, the number of unemployed persons per job opening was 1.8 in December 2007; by June 2009, there were 6.2 unemployed persons per job opening but that ratio has trended downward since and was 2.9 in October, 2013.

Even more significant than the raw numbers is the translations released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that indicates some 90 million Americans who are not working or seeking work due to taking themselves out of the job market. These include older people, younger people, and those without strong training or education who have simply given up.

Recruiting in a tough labor market is never easy, but smart-thinking entrepreneurs know how to think creatively to solve tough problems.

Control Hiring Costs

Young, fast-growing companies cannot as easily afford the $15,000 or higher hit they take each time they hire an executive recruiter to find new staff members. Any way you can reduce that expense means money in the bank.

  • Engage employees in finding the right new staff and offer a bonus

  • Avoid recruiters entirely by calling industry network connections and asking for leads

  • If you have to use a recruiter, negotiate a discount

Find a Recruiting Niche

We found some truly innovative approaches to recruiting in those who know how to find specialized recruiting niches in the same way companies develop niche markets for their own products and services.

  1. Recruit and hire retired seniors – many retirees are ready to slow down the pace of work but not stop completely. With the recent recession, many soon-to-retire workers are not looking at the robust portfolios they once had and these folks have valuable experience they can share. Sending letters to human resource departments seeking those soon-to-retire is a great way to tap into those who want to work part-time and earn an income in retirement. It’s a win-win all around.

  2. Hire your own customers – many companies have products and services that their customers feel very passionate about – even when there are things they’d like to fix or improve. From a management point of view, it’s easier to promote your company as a great place to work if the employees already know and use the products and services.

  3. Tap into employee networks – you don’t have to wait until someone is leaving to use them as a recruiting resource either. Let employees know that they can refer potential employees for new jobs and even those that haven’t been officially advertised yet. Giving a bonus is great but the focus should be on getting the right fit for the company and the position to get the work done right.

When one of your employees is moving on, engage them in the process of finding their replacement. After all, who better to know what the job really entails than the one who is leaving it? This is a great way to foster a good relationship with those who are leaving – you may just get them back – and with those coming in, because they get the real story and may have some fresh ideas to counter the problems that are being left behind by the one exiting.

Grow with Freelancers

The freelance community has grown exponentially throughout the recession as many previously full-time employees have decided not to re-seek employment in the cubicle grind and strike out on their own. With the Internet, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online sources, finding qualified freelancers with solid references and their own website is easier and more reliable than ever.

Plus, you can hire a freelancer to handle the job you need at the time and not worry about the overhead and expense of a full-time employee. If the work turns out to be full-time, you have already tested out your employee as a freelancer and can offer them a more permanent work schedule.

Explore Leaner Recruiting Options

These days, a new recruiting or job-matching board pops up just about every week, so there are many ways that company executives can save loads using leaner and more agile recruiting options. Some of the following that are well recommended include:

  • Whitetruffle.com – matches tech talent with companies based on an algorithm that looks at work history, skills, location, re-location and other unique data to match the candidate to the position. Their pricing model is based on the number of job posts.

  • Recruitloop.com – where you can post a new role for free and get the paid hourly support of an independent recruiter who will give you as much or as little help as you need, so you have complete control over the costs.

About the author

Matt Faustman

Matt Faustman

Matt is the co-founder and CEO at UpCounsel. Matt believes in the power of online platforms to change antiquated ways of life and founded UpCounsel to make legal services efficiently accessible. He is responsible for our overall vision and growth of the UpCounsel platform. Before founding UpCounsel, Matt practiced as a startup and business attorney.

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