May 17

How to Find Employees in A Tough Market


Guerrilla Strategies Every Company Needs

Jump on any zoom call, walk into any corporate board room, or sit down with any small business owner, and the one thing you will hear them talking about right now is employees. How do you find them, hire them, and keep them?

It is one of the biggest challenges facing employers today.  One threatens their ability to successfully come out of this pandemic and respond to the increasing consumer demand as markets reopen and the regulations of the pandemic ease.

Just this week, I had three clients I met with who say their biggest challenge is labor. People leaving due to burnout or other mental stressors, an inability to find people to take their place, and the increasing cost of investment to find talent and make it worth their while to leave their couches and rejoin the workforce.

According to a survey done by the National Federation of Independent Business in March, 42% of business owners had job openings they could not fill. Ninety-one percent of those hiring could not find qualified candidates. That is a record high, and the numbers are growing.

The reasons for people choosing not to reenter the workforce are pretty long, ranging from not yet to no desire to be vaccinated, lack of child care to schools that are still remote. Other reasons include unemployment checks pay more, the willingness to quit a job knowing you can easily find another, and the list goes on.

But for those business owners and leaders who need help and need it now, the reasons people aren’t willing to work don’t matter; you need to know what to do to attract those looking for a job.

This pandemic has changed how we attract, develop and retain talent. To find employees in a tough market, you need a new strategy and a new skill set.

5 Guerrilla Strategies Every Company Needs to Find Talent

1. Become a Sales Team

Your human resources department, and that means even if YOU are the human resources department, needs to start functioning as a sales team. You should always be recruiting; always be looking even if you are fully staffed. Just like the best clients already have an account representative, the best employees already have jobs. Make a prospect list, create a strategy, and proactively and consistently work to attract talent.

Go back to former employees, talk with them about coming back on board, and inquire about referrals. Look to prospects that did not accept a job offer you made, and see if they would be open to coming on board now. Identify your competitors’ talent, know the leaders in the industry, and create a process to get to know them, recruit them and work to get them on your team.

Just like sales plays along, proactive game, human resources need to do the same thing. Adopt a sales mindset when it comes to finding talent.

2. Engage Your Team

Make finding talented employees a team sport. Lack of talent impacts everyone, and in this environment, it will take all of your current employees to find new ones. Encourage your team to make referrals, incentivize them for any recruits hired, and most importantly, ask them for their ideas on where and how to find good employees.

Finding talented employees needs to be an ongoing strategy and should be a part of EVERY monthly team meeting. Take 15-minutes and talk about team members. Whom do you have that is excelling? What openings do you have? What strategies are being put into place to find talent?  Ask yourself and your team, “What is working? What is not? What is everyone’s role in finding new talent?”

3. Spotlight Your Culture

The competition is tough out there, and employees know they have choices. They are looking for a great place to work. Show them how great your business is for them. Use social media, make videos and boldly post current employee testimonials. Make sure that when potential employees go online looking for information about your company, what they find is impressive, engaging, and fun.

Create awareness in the marketplace and build your reputation among those looking for work as one of the best places to work.

4. Get Outside The Box

Remember you are looking for a good employee, not necessarily a trained employee. Back in the late 90’s when I worked in the banking industry, and the competition exploded with the expansion of large banks and the introduction of community banks, finding bankers was nearly impossible.

So rather than struggle or remain short-staffed, we decided to “grow our own.”  We hired people from outside the industry, were open to hiring people part-time (stay-at-home moms looking for a few hours of work are extraordinary employees), and trained them to do the job.

We recruited the waitress’ we met at lunch, the clerk at the drugstore, and the semi-retired adults working part-time at the hospital. We hired for talent, personality, commitment, and knew the rest we could train.

5. Clarify Your Purpose

This may sound like too much of a soft approach for a business owner or leader who needs help right now, but you would be surprised how critical the organizations’ purpose is in attracting and retaining talent. People want to do work that matters, they want to feel like they are making a difference and a well-defined purpose ensures you attract employees who are all in on what you are trying to accomplish.

If they buy into your purpose, they will want to work for you. If these employees are going to work for you, they will be far more likely to stay. It takes a lot of effort and expense to attract new hires; make sure you have a strategy to keep them.

The most engaged workers work for non-profits, some of the low-paying jobs on the market. Why are they so engaged? Because they have bought into the mission and vision. A leader who knows his/her purpose, speaks about it all the time, and uses it in the hiring process is one that will not only attract great talent but keep those team members longer than their competitors.

Make It Part of Your Strategy

I know to find and hire employees right now is challenging. These strategies will not only help you through these tough times, but if you put them into place and make them your normal hiring strategy, the higher the chances are in good times and bad, your team will be rock solid and well-staffed no matter what the market place does.

I would love to hear your ideas and strategies, what you’re doing to find talent in tough times. Share your thoughts and comments with me – on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Or you can e-mail them to me at meridith at I would love to hear them.

About Meridith Elliott Powell

Meridith Elliott Powell is a business growth strategist specializing in helping her clients turn uncertainty into a competitive advantage. Her newest book THRIVE: Turn Uncertainty To Competitive Advantage, shares her proven nine-step formula for using change to push through obstacles and fuel growth.  To learn more and get your free chapter, click here:

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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