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Finding good applicants is hard and there is no easy answer, but we sat down and talked to Jeff Schaaf from the Toledo Chamber of Commerce about how our area is working hard to bring talented individuals into the area.

The Current Applicant Pool

The phrase, “there are just no applicants out there” has been passed around under frustrated grumblings quite a bit recently, but how factual is it? The answer is complicated, but in short, it’s not. 

Prevue mentioned that while 56 percent of owners have job openings, that 40 percent of them are struggling to find anyone to fill the spots. 

The reality is that there are applicants out there, but the workforce and applicant pool look different now than they did prior to the start of the pandemic.

EBS Blog Post Note

In fact, different types of jobs postings will remain vacant and harder to fill than others, while some may continue to have a high volume of people interested.

Here are things to consider:

  • More families are reverting to single-income households to save money on childcare and other things. 
  • A higher percentage of people are pursuing remote and more flexible work environments. 
  • People are being more selective with their work and tolerance for undesirable working conditions has decreased as they seek higher job security, better benefits, and an agreeable culture. 
  • People would rather have jobs with companies like Uber and GrubHub, where they can pick their hours and workload than with a frontline job where the work is often difficult, they’re underappreciated, and on a set schedule.
  • People are looking for companies that agree on the same social issues as they do.
Toledo Ohio Skyline

Photo Credit: Tomase Dental Care

How the Toledo Chamber of Commerce is Helping Locally

The Toledo Chamber, a regional Chamber of Commerce, has multiple team members and initiatives to help area businesses. They service over 2,300 businesses and are at the forefront of local economic efforts. 

That being said, Jeff Schaaf works as the Director of Talent Strategy to help companies grow their teams and help the Toledo community draw people in. There are few people as well-versed in Toledo as Jeff is. 

He will also work with your top applicants from out of town, to introduce them to the area, help them find housing and schools, and introduce them to other organizations that can make their life here that much better, often tipping the scale in their decision. 

When it comes to intern programs, the Toledo Chamber has one called Summer in the City to help summer interns get to know the community and increase the likelihood that they’ll want to live here. 

Lastly, the Toledo Chamber has many resources and connections that can help you sort through your recruitment and hiring bottlenecks. While they can’t do the job for you, they have a lot of familiarity with the local markets to give deeper insight and make introductions that could be just what you’re looking for. 

Reevaluate Your Efforts

Working with a Chamber of Commerce like the Toledo Chamber to utilize the resources they can provide is a great first step in potentially reaching more applicants, but it’s not the only thing you should be doing.  

As mentioned above, applicants are getting more specific with want they want and are willing to compromise less than they used to. Think about your compensation offerings, how you interview people, your training and follow-up, and even think about your job postings themselves. Do they best reflect you and what applicants are looking for? If it’s a job posting that’s been the same since before the pandemic then you can assume the answer is no.

Incorporating more remote interviews is a great way to improve your interview process and help reach more people who turn in their resumes. Consider what touch-points actually need to be in-person if any. Also, consider having an evening recruiter if you can. A lot of times, your applicants are currently working people if they’re working a 9 to 5 it may be hard for them to set an interview time with you if you’re out of the office when they’re free. You can’t expect them to risk their current job without the security of another one to fall back on.

close up asian woman use earphone connect to laptop and talking greeting by video conference with friends or family at outdoor coffee restaurant in relax time , lifestyle people concept

Photo Credit: Hubspot

One tip to start is to not just look at your offers, but also at your qualification requirements. Many applicants won’t even apply if they don’t feel they’re qualified and if you’re disqualifying a lot of people before talking to them then you’re likely skipping over individuals who would make a great fit for your position after all. Also, consider how difficult your application process is. The idea that a long and complicated process is good for weeding out apathetic applicants is archaic. A good applicant knows the value of their time and won’t waste it for you. 

It feels awful to be declined before you’ve even managed to get on the phone with someone. 

Next, don’t ghost your applicants. This is a tip that will pop up no matter the applicant situation, but not notifying the applicants you don’t choose to move forward with is an ugly habit. Stop it. People talk to each other and they will say things like, “Oh, you applied at ___? I applied there once. They were rude and I never heard back.” A reputation like that spreads.

Take a look at everything involved or that touches your recruitment and hiring processes and reevaluate them. Just because they worked before, doesn’t mean they do now and in a world that’s gone through a lot of rapid changes recently, you must stay flexible to succeed. 

Long-Term Adjustments for Retention 

Consider the type of work. If you can offer remote and hybrid work situations as well, that opens you up to people further away and looking for flexibility. Fortunately, in today’s world, more and more jobs can be done from just about anywhere using systems like Blitz and Aline

Also, consider your existing staff. If they’ve been working well remotely throughout most of the pandemic and you suddenly force them back into the office without their consent, you may be creating a recipe for disaster. Just because certain team members enjoy and prefer the in-person experience, doesn’t mean all your people do. If a job can be remote, really consider the value of bringing an employee back in, especially if they would rather not. This can help maintain employee satisfaction and trust. 

Training is vital for not just a new hire, but for all your team members through their employment journey. It enables both to grow and perform better as well as showing them that you’re putting in the effort for them. 

In general employee retention improves when the employees are listened to and invested in. If you invest in them, they will invest in the company, creating the path to success.

About Our Guest:

Jeff Schaaf

Jeff Schaaf

Director of Talent Strategy - Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce

As Director of Talent Strategy at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Schaaf’s primary responsibilities involve developing and managing programs and tools, such as Summer in the City and ToledoRegion.com, that can be leveraged by Chamber members to attract diverse, talented people to the Toledo Region.

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, serving a membership of over 2,300 businesses, fosters economic growth and prosperity in the Toledo Region by advocating for a thriving business environment, leading the charge to attract and retain talent in the region, and connecting business with resources and opportunities for growth. Our member businesses range in size from small, one-person, operations to large corporations employing thousands.


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