How to hire the right people for 2020

As of October, the U.S. unemployment rate remains almost ridiculously low at 3.6%. It has bounced up only slightly from a 50-year low of 3.5% in September. Still, the rate basically means that the vast majority of people who want to work have a job right now. For employers seeking new talent, low unemployment presents a challenge. Without job seekers flooding the market, businesses must proactively seek out and woo potential candidates. At the same time, recruiters will increasingly need to look beyond previous job experience to unearth professionals with raw potential, not simply an impressive résumé.

This situation introduces opportunities and worries alike for corporations in need of star recruits.

After all, they may not be able to find them today. However, future workplace heroes may be hiding in overlooked Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter résumés, not to mention LinkedIn profiles.

For instance, consider a person who possesses 80% of a position’s must-haves. With enough desire to learn and grow, the individual could eventually deliver the other 20%. The same may hold true of someone who has never worked in a particular industry but has performed relevant key roles in another field. And what about people from unusual backgrounds who may bring something more to the table than a college degree and typical work experience?

To be sure, thinking outside the box when recruiting and onboarding can be chancy. A bad hire hurriedly placed on the payroll can cost a company an average of more than $18,700, according to CareerBuilder research.

If you’re planning to hire in 2020, prepare yourself to challenge the status quo and try some new tactics. Tweaking your recruitment strategies just a bit could make all the difference and help you put the best people in your empty seats.

1. Become a hiring Nostradamus with assessment tools

Predicting expected performance isn’t an exact science, but pre-hire assessments can add some objectivity to the decision-making process. According to a study by research firm Brandon Hall, such assessments are likely to generate a 12% year-over-year improvement in the quality of hires. “Like the way a DNA strand identifies the genetic makeup of an individual, predictive assessments give us a way to measure attributes that are not always apparent on the surface and that can’t be gauged through interviews and observation,” says Wendy Mack, managing director of sales talent consulting practice at GrowthPlay.

Ranging from multiple-choice tests to artificial intelligence-powered data collection, predictive assessments indicate how an individual will perform in role-specific situations based on measurable criteria, not personality type. AI platforms collect data like word choice, tone, and facial expressions from video interviews to measure, for instance, how empathetic a future customer service representative is likely to be. Employers may select or develop hiring assessments that compare candidates’ knowledge, skills, and aptitude with the soft and hard skills needed most for a position—such as customer centricity or IT literacy.

2. Chuck bias with an infusion of AI

From writing job descriptions to determining which candidates to interview, recruiters inevitably operate with a certain degree of unconscious bias. AI can help eliminate biased practices, thereby widening your search and giving you better applicants to consider. Plus, some AI solutions can even sort through résumés on your behalf, cutting the time you spend on recruitment in addition to reducing bias.

The more diverse the workplace, the more likely an organization is to stand out among the industry noise and win customers. McKinsey reports that organizations with gender-diverse executive teams are 21% more likely to have bigger financial returns than their competitors; executive racial and ethnic diversity raises the likelihood to 33%. You can use AI tools to do everything from flagging biased language in your job descriptions to removing gendered words from candidate résumés and cover letters. That way, you’ll be able to judge each person’s potential ability during the interview process, rather than ruling him or her out unfairly beforehand.

3. Make coworkers your recruitment special agents

Referrals often wind up being high-potential hires. Don’t assume that your current employees don’t know anyone who would be willing to jump ship for the right opportunity. Instead, ask around and offer signing bonuses if your team members bring you A-listers. Encourage them to look through their networks and think about others they’ve enjoyed working within the past. In general, great people know other great people, so host recruitment parties quarterly, incentivize your worker bees to connect with their hives and drum up clever methods to urge new faces to visit your organization.