4 Ways to Attract Talent During a Tight Labor Market

My organizations are still considered “small businesses.” Yes, we have over 300 independent contractors nationwide, yet we currently employ under 50 individuals. Adam Hergenrother Companies may be small in staff, but we hit $1 billion in annual revenue across all companies recently.

We’re continuing to grow, expand our offerings, and help more clients and customers than ever before. We need hungry, humble, and smart individuals to accomplish our big, sometimes scary, and always challenging and exciting goals. At any given time we are actively recruiting for several positions, like a Director of Sales and Marketing for Adam Hergenrother Companies, two Inside Sales Agents for Livian, a Commercial Project Manager for BlackRock Construction, and an Assistant Market Center Administrator for KW Vermont. For those who say there are no employment opportunities in Vermont, think again! We are ready to hire at least 5 individuals today, and we’re still only a “small business”!

But just because you build it (and post the career opportunity), does not mean they will come. As of March 2019, the national unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent (April data will be released on May 3 if your interested!). In Vermont, the labor market is even tighter at a 2.3 percent unemployment rate. Generally, you would think a low unemployment rate is a good thing, right? But that’s not always the case. Economists believe that anything below a 5 percent unemployment rate is too low and is an indicator that the U.S. economy is becoming inefficient.

What does this mean for you and for me as business owners? It means that basically anyone who wants a job right now has one. Talented individuals are employed and they aren’t necessarily looking for a new opportunity. They are already in the market, kicking ass, and it will be your job to go out and find them. If you’ve got a position to fill at your organization, then you are not going to be able to passively recruit candidates and wait for a stellar resume to land in your inbox. You are going to have to go on major hunt. You’re going to have to be competitive with the value you provide candidates. You’re going to have to attract talent to your organization better than anyone else.

Whether it’s a tight labor market or there are more qualified candidates than you know what to do with, the tactics should remain the same.BUILD A BENCH OF TALENT. You shouldn’t start recruiting only when you need to fill a position. Do you have a candidate pool to pull from? We actively build and nurture a database of talent. When new positions open up at our company, we connect with individuals we have met with 3 weeks ago, and sometimes 3 years ago! Talent is talent. We just may not have the right opportunity for them when we first meet, but we do not forget them. This doesn’t have to be complicated. An applicant tracking system (ATS) is great, but an Excel spreadsheet and calendar reminders works just as well. The key is to tag the people you meet by the position you believe they are best suited for, not necessarily the position they applied for. Continue to build relationships with these candidates. Check in from time to time. Add them to your company newsletter. Send them interesting articles. Connect them with other business leaders or career opportunities. When you have the right position for them, it makes the candidate review process that much faster and easier, particularly when the labor market it tight.


As I mentioned above, recruiting doesn’t start once you become desperate for a candidate to fill an open position. Talent meetings, sourcing candidates, and general recruiting activities should never stop. Do you have time set aside each week to reach out to potential talent, set up informational interviews, or to cultivate relationships with your bench candidates? Start with just an hour a week. When you’re purposeful, that hour can be powerful. Building a business requires people. So why wouldn’t you be setting aside at least an hour (preferably more than that) to lead generate for talent? Create this habit now and don’t stop! No matter what the labor market looks like, recruiting is an essential part of building a business.


If your company’s reputation is so good, regardless of the labor market, you’ll have candidates breaking down the door to get in. Do you think Nike, Keller Williams Realty, Chevron, Intuit, or any of these other companies on the Happiest Companies to Work For list, have trouble getting applicants? I don’t think so. Why? Because they have figured out how to share their company’s culture, vision, mission, and values widely and often enough that it automatically attracts the right people. It may also turn a lot of people off, but that’s the point. You want your brand to be so clearly defined that 50 percent of people are going to hate your company and what it stands for, and 50 percent of people will do anything they can to be a part of your world. How clear is your vision? Is that being translated company-wide and articulated through your brand? If not, get clear on this and you’ll constantly be receiving inquires about being a part of your organization, whether or not you have any open positions.


To raise the entire consciousness, productivity, and overall success of your organization, you have to start with you first. Want to build a brand that the exact talent you’re looking for wants to be a part of? That starts with you and your leadership. Want to build a massive bench of talent – essentially a “waitlist” to being employed at your company? That starts with you and your leadership. Are you working on who you need to become each day in order to attract the level of talent that you want in your organization? High performers want to be surrounded (and led) by other high performers. If you aren’t constantly increasing your leadership lid and staying one step ahead of your team, your top talent will leave (and we know based on the low unemployment rate that they will likely have another place to go quickly!). It’s not just about attracting NEW talent in a tight labor market, it’s retaining your current talent. Are you pouring into the right people? Are you providing enough challenge and responsibility to your top performers? Are you pushing your team members to grow, not just professionally, but personally as well? It is your duty as a leader to grow the individuals around you and that starts by growing yourself each day.


How did you find them and partner with them? Or did they find you? Start there and remember to always be recruiting! Build a bench, build your brand, and grow your leadership so you can continue to grow those around you. It’s a simple (but not always easy) recipe for success. We know that no one succeeds alone. Do you have the people around you that you need to accomplish your goals? If not, get after it!

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