As temperatures soar, unemployment continues to drop, fueling a fiercely competitive market for skilled workers.
From manufacturing to professional services to higher education, one thing is sure: It takes a mixed bag of savvy recruiting tools to attract talented job candidates.
Successful matches may come from old-school networking or digital platforms designed to attract and resonate with the right candidates.
Here’s a snapshot of Lehigh Valley employers and their efforts to bring potential employees to that first interview.
Lehigh University is using its diverse departments and employee workforce to host “employee takeovers” on its Instagram account in order to get the “Work, Life, Lehigh” message out to potential job applicants, said Hillary Kwiatek, employee communications specialist at Lehigh University.
Similar to “A Day in the Life” storytelling, potential employees can take a peek into the job of a Zoellner stage manager, for example, or a Lehigh marketing professional. Zoellner Arts Center is a performing arts theater on the Lehigh University campus in Bethlehem.
“When they [employees] are in charge of the university’s Instagram account, our followers grow,” Kwiatek said.
Lehigh also uses video storytelling by creating brief video content and pushing it out on its Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
“A recent hire told me one of the videos she saw inspired her” to accept a position at Lehigh, Kwiatek said.
Aubrie Fenicle, a Lehigh human resources and talent acquisition associate, said paid LinkedIn tools helped further hone the recruiting process.
“LinkedIn Recruiter allows us to speak directly to the applicant we’re looking for,” Fenicle said.
She said LinkedIn is a great way to set the stage for future recruiting, too, as she can connect with those who might not be actively looking for a job, at least not yet.
“It allows me to have conversations with them,” Fenicle said, adding: “It’s no longer a time you can put a job on a board and get 50 qualified applicants.”
Carissa Klein said social media platforms, including LinkedIn Recruiter, allow her to source talent directly.
“It’s what the majority of headhunters and [third party] recruiters use to source candidates,” said Klein, an attorney recruitment manager at Norris McLaughlin, a law firm with offices in Allentown and New Jersey.
Klein said the Lehigh Valley is a tightknit community where everybody seems to know everybody else.
“Our attorneys often serve as our recruiters,” she said.
Carlos Valdes, director of human resources for Victaulic in Forks Township, said employment recruiting programs should include a dose of reputation management.
“Company reviews like Glassdoor, Indeed and Comparably are just a few of the fastest-growing employer review sites guiding job seekers … If you want to attract top talent you need to know what past and current employees are saying about you,” Valdes said.
Leveraging review websites as a listening tool can help firms make changes to improve employee perceptions as “that will only help your recruiting efforts,” he said.
At Lehigh Valley Health Network a “robust training program to grow our future colleagues” is a high priority, according to Megan Morris, director of talent acquisition for human resources.
Morris said LVHN has job opportunities for people of all skill and education levels, including those entering the workforce with only a high school diploma.
College students, meanwhile, can take advantage of LVHN’s summer research scholar program. Summer student scholars are paid employees with job responsibilities. They are assigned to a supervisor mentor.
“We hope they make a connection with someone at LVHN … and that they come back [to us],” Morris said.
A broad playing field
As local employment markets tighten, the same competition for talent is playing out across the nation and on the global level, said Therese Beck, director of employee experiences at Olympus Corp. of the Americas in Upper Saucon Township.
“I don’t think tactics alone work. There needs to be a strategy,” Beck said.
She said looking at the competition is an important factor in developing sound strategies and communicating the Olympus message and brand to prospective candidates. Recent benefit additions enjoyed by Olympus employees include company perks and a greater focus on health and wellness.
The company also works with staff to develop transferable skills to ensure employees enjoy longer careers with more mobility within the company, Beck said.
“We’re focusing on breadth of experience – not so much about promoting up, or climbing the ladder, but rather promoting out. We want to grow and develop good people leaders,” Beck said.
She said aligning employee talent, strengths, interests and passions in positions throughout the company helps everyone grow.