On any given week, I spend between 50-75% of my time talking with business owners in Anne Arundel County. I talk to A LOT of owners. And the biggest issue they are all facing right now is finding help.
You see it in the reduction of store hours. You can feel it when the service is slow. It is an inescapable fact of the business world right now.
I was talking to a local owner in the restaurant industry. Having opened multiple new locations over the last few years, revenue-wise, they are doing amazing. But they cannot hire. They recently scheduled 13 interviews. 0 people showed up.
0 for 13. That is reminiscent of a Chris Davis weekend stat line. And yes, I know he retired, but the Orioles are still paying him so I am sticking with the comparison!
And they are not alone. There is a delicious lunch shop within walking distance to my office that has an open position to fill. They recently held a hiring event. Nobody showed.
There was a recent local job fair. 25 businesses were in attendance. Total job applicants…23.
I am talking with owners who are looking to buy an entire business just to get access to their workforce!
Hiring. Is. Brutal.
But, also in my travels, I am meeting people that are here to help. And I am also learning about some new techniques that people are trying in the recruitment process. With that in mind, I wanted to go through both of those in case either can help you during your next hiring spree.
I was talking with a business owner in the cleaning industry, and they have turned to group interviews. The idea is it relieves pressure upfront on the interviewees while showing that there is demand for your position. After an initial interview pool of 8-10 candidates, there are typically one or two down selects to get to your target candidate(s). These down selects are also designed to give you an opportunity to build a rapport with the candidate in hope that they feel an attachment to your company and ultimately sign the contract to work for you.
Has it worked? To some extent, yes. The company is now able to get people to show up for interviews; although they are still having trouble retaining people.
Even in-person jobs may see better luck first scheduling a Zoom interview. Again, the idea is that you are lowering the barrier for the initial discussion to build goodwill with the candidate. And then a second interview would be done in person before eventually presenting a contract to the candidate for a job within your organization.
Has it worked? I must say that this is an approach I am taking, and it is not working too well…yet. People still stand me up for Zoom interviews. And it’s tough to build enough goodwill over the video to get people comfortable with coming in person.
Also, often there is a reason they want to do Zoom. They are too far away. Or do not want to meet people in person yet (which they must be willing to do to work for me). Or whatever the rationale is, it will continue to be a challenge if you were to offer an employment opportunity.
State and Local Resources
Luckily, business owners are not alone. There are state and local resources dedicated to helping drive a healthy labor community in Anne Arundel and the larger State of Maryland – namely the Maryland Department of Labor and Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation. I touched on the Department of Labor in a previous post, so I wanted to focus a bit on the AAWDC here.
The AAWDC’s mission is “to support business and serve as a catalyst for business growth in Anne Arundel County….” That broad statement includes, among other things, helping local business owners find staff. I strongly recommend reaching out to both departments if you need support in hiring your next staff member.
My go-to points of contact for both organizations are below. Tell them Steve Palmer sent you and they will take good care of you…although in fairness, they will take good care of you even if you do not tell them I sent you. Because Ellen and Scott are good people.
Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning
Maryland Department of Labor
Email: [email protected]
Office: (410) 590-9288
Manager Business Solutions
Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation
Email: [email protected]
Office: (410) 533-9245