Shortage of talent can be filled by underemployed workers

With so many open jobs and so many Americans still unemployed, clearly something has gone wrong with hiring. Hiring solutions are falling short of solving the actual problem—getting people into jobs. Older workers, women, and people of color have higher unemployment rates than the national average. It seems that every day there is a new hiring tool or trend on the market. So many solutions exist that help filter résumés, test applicants, screen social media profiles, and more—all forms of rejection.

This compounded rejection is what is causing many workers to retire early, continue collecting unemployment benefits, or needlessly struggle to get by despite the quantity of open jobs. Hiring needs more supply solutions, thereby increasing the number of potential candidates and addressing the huge amount of open roles. For companies looking to hire, here are some pointers to help get more people into jobs.

Ditch the screening tools if they aren’t serving you

The United States currently has about 1 million more job openings than people looking for jobs. With that statistic in mind, it seems nearly impossible that any individual willing to work would be facing rejection right now. As discussed recently in The Wall Street Journal, candidates often get rejected based on a single missing skill, calling skills different things (“managed projects” vs. “project manager”), differently formatted résumés the tools can’t read (including photos and some PDFs), and many other reasons that aren’t indicators of job performance. These screening tools, ranging from résumé parsers to video interview tools simply aren’t serving companies, and are creating huge pools of untapped talent that are eagerly searching for opportunities. Automated screening tools have been proven to harbor potential for serious bias, and companies can’t afford to be rejecting strong candidates right now.

Offer more training opportunities

Far too often, companies seem to forget that skills can be attained on the job. It would be nice to always be able to find candidates with the perfect qualifications, but that’s rarely a reality. To find the best hires, try to narrow down your “must-have” list to a core group of skills and be flexible about the rest.

If you’re struggling to hire candidates with a certain skill, consider investing in training. Not only does providing training vastly expand your pool of qualified applicants, but you’ll also create more buy-in from new employees who will view your company as a place to grow. This is especially true for areas of high global demand, like cybersecurity. Rather than compete for the same finite amount of people in these industries, why not broaden your search to more candidates and teach them? This would also help make huge strides in diversity in the industry. Companies need to be more open about hiring people who are passionate, want to learn, and are committed to their careers. The need to hire candidates who are perfect is harming candidates and companies.

Provide incentives and programs to return

Returning to the workplace after a break is never easy. Many workers may wish to return but are unsure where to start or are struggling with the idea of returning. Several states have successfully rolled out bonuses to lure returning workers, a program replicated by some companies. Additionally, other organizations have begun specialized programs to help certain employees return. Amazon recently began a returnship program to help mothers come back to work. Offering training and childcare, these programs help bring back qualified workers who might not otherwise be able to return, and could be replicated for older workers or other facets of the population struggling with unemployment.

All in all, with so many unemployed workers and so many open jobs, it’s time to change mindsets around hiring. Opening up roles to more workers through training, incentives, and more, can help companies tap into under-employed talent markets right now. Many candidates are willing to learn and try something new given the chance.

Rena Nigam is the founder and CEO of Meytier, which she started with the mission to help improve diversity at scale through a technology-based approach. She is an entrepreneur focused on building and scaling firms that focus on the reimagination of businesses through technology. Previously, Rena was president and board member at Incedo. She is a cofounder Aspark, a business enterprise company, which was acquired by Capgemini.