How an Employer Can Capitalize on a Candidate Driven Market

June 22nd, 2015

By: Danielle Gohr

The Hard Facts

If you have noticed that finding candidates for open positions, while keeping existing employees happy is proving to be near impossible, here is why:

  • People are more comfortable than ever leaving their jobs as turnover rates this year were dramatically higher than in previous years.
  • The economy is improving and companies are feeling more confident to open positions up.
  • There are more open positions than supply of qualified candidates and prospects are setting higher expectations and asking for more than ever before.
  • Unemployment is the lowest it has been since 2008.

There’s a New Sheriff in Town

It used to be an employer driven market and companies felt confident they could get the right candidate with their same old strategic tactics. There has been a gigantic shift in the candidates favor. They are now in charge and gaining more ground with each move they make. Now that we’ve accepted this shift, it is time we change up recruiting strategies, build stronger relationships, make referrals a priority again, be prepared to act fast, and make the experience so impressive that rejection isn’t even an option.

How to Recruit and Retain Candidates

Update Recruiting Strategies – You used to be able to gainfully employ candidates with a job description and good salary. However, in today’s market it is so much more than that. If you want to beat out competition and close a candidate in a market where recession isn’t a hot button and money isn’t the number one driver, you need to find out what the candidate’s motivations are. Once you find out their motivation, you will see that it will almost always be about one of the following:

  • Security – how stable is the job
  • Status – their title or opportunity
  • Responsibilities – and room for growth
  • Work/Life Balance – this may be the most important of them all

Knowing this, make sure your job descriptions, marketing materials, and recruiters showcase these items throughout the hiring process.

Build Stronger Relationships and Make Referrals a Priority – From start to finish, make sure you get to know the candidates you are looking to hire. Find commonalities, ask about their families, hobbies etc. By building these relationships, you create loyalty. Loyalty will pay off in dividends when your recent hires tell their qualified acquaintances, friends and family to come to you when they want a job.

Act Fast – If you don’t, your competition will. You can take time contemplating the purpose for the position, what type of person you want to be in the position and the timing of when you want the person to start. If you have those three things figured out up front, it should make it easy to move quickly. You get the applicants, interview the strongest candidates and make a sound decision to offer.  While it is a precarious balance between moving too slow and making a hasty decision, you will lose out on the best candidates if you delay any part of the hiring process from application to offer.

Professionally Spoil Your Candidate – Because they expect it! From beginning to end, make sure your customer service is unmatchable. Be timely in your responses from applications and interviews to updates and offers. Let them in on your company’s culture and what makes it unique. Focus on what it does have to offer and not on the shortcomings or wish lists.  If a candidate can feel the respect, appreciation and pride throughout the hiring process, they will undoubtedly accept the offer!





The Honeymoon: How Can It Last Forever For Your Employees?

February 3rd, 2015

By: Brian Berry / HR Manager

Remember how you felt when you started a new job?  The excitement, the anticipation and that feeling of a new beginning.  Starting a new job is refreshing and can be very motivating. Employers have an opportunity to extend that honeymoon feeling through to their entire employment experience with a unique on-boarding process.

Creating an effective on-boarding process starts with the interview.  The first point of contact is an employer’s opportunity to begin setting expectations or painting a picture of what working for your company looks like.  Painting a picture that is honest about your company’s culture and the functions of the job is invaluable in the interview process.  You want your candidate to visualize themselves doing the job and working in the environment.  It can be very difficult to overcome a big surprise on the first day of the job.

Secondly, a thorough employee orientation is a must.  Taking the time to properly educate a new employee on the company mission, vision and values can set the stage for understanding the foundation of the company.  Setting the standard for how co-workers are expected to interact and the importance of it as it applies to the success of the company can make all of the difference.  Orientations should be organized and planned out for new employees.  Having a schedule with the new employee will help to alleviate any kind of fear associated with those first few days.

How can we make the honeymoon feeling last forever in our company?    Simple…create an environment where co-workers can easily connect and establish strong, positive relationships with each other.  Well, it may not be simple, but it is possible.  Here is how we have done it:

  • Trust – a simple expectation of all employees to truly trust one another. Easier for some than others but constant reminders of the importance of trust in business.  You have to give it to get it.
  • Fun – Make an effort to have fun every day at work. Make it OK to have fun at work.
  • Passion – Create passion for your company and your team. Invite people to bring their passions to work with them and engage other people.
  • Love – Expect your employees to show their love through their actions. Think of others first and act on it.

These have been our values as a company for 17 years and have helped us create strong, positive working relationships internally.  Those relationships make the ups and the downs of any job manageable and even fun.  Strong internal relationships will help reduce the number of negative employee relations issues as well as create much better teamwork.

Engaging employees through strong, positive working relationships can be the key to creating a culture where employees want to work.  Retaining employees becomes a much easier endeavor if your employees want to be there.

Affordable Care Act Strategy

October 8th, 2014

By: Brian Berry, PHR – HR Manager @ Palmer Group

On January 1st, 2015, employers with 100 or more full time employees will become responsible for providing eligible employees with health benefits that are both affordable and provide a minimum level of coverage.

Most employers have a plan in place for complying with the new rules beginning next year.  With all of the changes and updates to the rules, many employers have had to focus on their operational plans to deal with the changes and be compliant.  Now is the time to begin thinking strategically about the changes and how they may positively benefit or impact your business.

For example:

  • With the current job market, recruiting the right candidate for a job is very challenging. Educating potential employees on your benefit offerings and differentiating yourself from other employers will help the recruiting process and help you attract more qualified candidates.
  • Educating current employees on the changes and how their benefit plan applies should help to retain key individuals in your organization.
  • Effectively managing the extra cost of compliance may help you beat your competition in pricing.
  • As a vendor, complying with the new regulations will put your company in a more positive light with clients.
  • Paying attention to potential business opportunities being exposed by the new regulation may help drive higher revenues over the next few years and help offset any potential additional cost that you may experience.

Whether you agree with the new regulations or not, now is the time to look at the positives and what you can do as a business to get in front of the ever changing environment we are all experiencing.  Keeping an eye on opportunity during a potentially challenging change for businesses may prove to benefit your organization in the long run. Strategic thinking and planning around the Affordable Care Act will help you beat your competition to finding, attracting, and retaining the best employees along with increasing sales.

If you have questions regarding the Affordable Care Act, please feel free to contact the professionals at the Palmer Group (515)225-7000 to learn more.

Hiring Process – July 2014

July 14th, 2014

The job market here in Iowa has certainly changed in 2014.  Demand for top talent in Accounting, Information Technology, Engineering, Administration, Human Resources, and Sales has increased dramatically in recent months.  Salary levels are beginning to rise and so are the compensation expectations of applicants considering a change.  Many people that “stayed put” during uncertain economic times are more actively pursuing new job opportunities.  In fact, candidates with the strongest backgrounds are seeing significant interest and often times must decide between competing offers.

As a company leader and hiring manager, this is a good time to review your overall hiring process. Here are a few ideas to consider:

Be prepared to move quickly:   For most employers, the length of time from initial resume review to offer increased significantly during the economic slowdown.  While this “methodical approach” may have worked well then, it could cost you the opportunity to hire the strongest applicants in the current and future environments.  Today a thorough but swift process is most effective.

Know the situation with your top candidates:   It’s always best to know as much as possible about a potential candidate’s current “search status”.  Are they actively interviewing with other companies?  Are they considering offers from any of those companies?  What is their individual time frame for making employment decisions?  It’s valuable to know about any potential competition so that you can adjust and react.

Sell your company stability and culture:   Specific position responsibilities, opportunities for advancement, plus compensation and benefits are still important to applicants.  That said, your company culture and financial stability are also on the top of the list for most candidates today.

We remain optimistic for continuing job growth across many of our areas of expertise.  If your organization is challenged or concerned about your processes for identifying, attracting, and hiring top quality candidates, please contact the professionals at Palmer Group to learn more.

The Cost of Hiring the Wrong Person for Your Job

June 13th, 2014

It is estimated making a bad hiring decision can cost your company up to 30% of that person’s annual salary.  This 30% cost is purely based on the expense in recruiting, on-boarding and training the new employee.  The potential damage a bad hire can make to a team, department or a company will likely go well beyond what the hard costs are.  When you hire the wrong person, the negative impact on your current staff is likely to extrapolate your total costs, which in turn could lead to additional turnover of key employees.   The loss of productivity due to training of new hires, the potential of current employees becoming frustrated due to workload, the overall negative impact on morale, not to mention the loss of engagement are the other costs you need to consider.  These are issue that make people leave their jobs and are things you need to work hard to avoid. In our current employment climate, we are only at the beginning of what we call a “Candidate Driven” job market.  This means candidates for all positions will be harder to find and connect with.  As the candidate market continues to tighten, the cost involved in recruiting and hiring goes up.  Hiring the right person the first time greatly helps to reduce the overall cost involved in the process.      Things to consider when making your next hiring decision:

  1. Aptitude – Does your candidate have the hard skills to do the job you need done?  If not, can they learn them?
  2. Dependability – Will your candidate show up to work every day and be reliable?  References can help with this one.
  3. Attitude – The most important criteria in a hiring decision.  Will your candidate contribute to a positive culture or will they drag you and everyone down?

It is important to identify what it is you are looking for and what your next hire needs to have for the greatest impact on your department or company.  Doing so will help ensure you are hiring the right person for your job and help avoid costly mistakes.   For more information, reach out to the Des Moines employment professionals at the Palmer Group. 

7 Tips to Successful Performance Reviews

May 16th, 2014

Don’t make doing Performance Reviews a chore.  Here are 7 simple tips to help make them effective and successful.

Frequency – Many organizations struggle with how often you should provide Performance Reviews.  While it is acceptable to have a “formal” review annually, it is more important to connect with your employees often to discuss their performance and their goals so there are no surprises when a review takes place.

Don’t Rush – Make sure you are prepared!  These meetings are important and might be the only time the candidate has to connect with you one on one.  Spend time preparing questions, documents, examples, etc.  You want to make sure the employee knows you have put thought and effort into the meeting.  Also, make sure you set clear expectations with your employees on what you are looking for them to provide in this meeting (goals, plan for improvement, etc.).  Effective communication with your employees is an essential function to provide motivation and guide performance.

Be Specific – Performance reviews are a time to give examples of what the employee has done in the last month, quarter, 6 months or a year, depending on how you have your review process set .   Some managers find it helpful to report examples all year by placing notes in their employee’s file or keeping a written log.  Whether the example is positive reinforcement or areas to improve upon, specific examples will make those discussions accurate, easier and more productive.

Recognition – Who doesn’t like to receive it?  And more importantly, what is the harm in providing it?!  A manager who gives praise and puts their employees first demonstrates a positive culture and one that employees will be motivated to succeed in.  Performance Reviews can often make your employees anxious, so make sure to not just focus on the areas that need improving, but give praise and thanks for the good work that has been done since your last review.  You can also do several things throughout the year to recognize your employees that take little time to accomplish,  are easy to implement, and cost little or no money–a quick personal or written thanks, for example, may be all you need to do which will build stronger bonds between you and your team.

Be Consistent – Whether you do performance reviews once a month,  once a quarter, or once a year, make them consistent. Performance reviews are an important business tool and provide a foundation for employee development.  Performance evaluations are meant to be effective and if not consistent can make them meaningless.

Follow Up and Follow Through – As part of a performance review, employees should set goals for the coming year, which is something managers should have regular communication with your employee about.  Having this front of mind will keep the employee engaged and know that you are thinking about what they have discussed.  Make sure they review these goals often and help guide them so they can feel good about their level of achievement.

Career Ambitions – Ask your employees about their Career Development.  “What do you want to do? Where do you want go?” “What training can we help provide?”  Help them to achieve their goals and aspirations to the best of your abilities.  Having discussions with your employees will allow them to become motivated and engaged.  It is not always about changing positions or finding the next best thing, it can be as simple as moving responsibilities around to provide an additional challenge and professional growth.  If you can keep your employees engaged and challenged, they’ll likely want to stick around.

For more information on performance reviews, reach out to the Des Moines employment professionals at the Palmer Group.


Employment Brand

April 21st, 2014

There is no denying the employment market in Greater Des Moines is HOT!  Central Iowa is continually winning all sorts of awards for being a great place to live, work, and play.  Investment in our community is happening organically along with companies seeking to relocate their businesses here.  With these facts along with a low unemployment rate in Central Iowa, it means that employers are competing for the same talent.  This is why your “employment brand” has never been more critical.  Do you know what your employees are saying about you?  What about your customers?  Do you completely understand your reputation in the marketplace?  If you don’t know how to answer these questions, you better find out.


Employment Branding is the key to successful recruiting and retention.  With a strong employment brand and being known as an employer of choice, you will not only be able to keep your employees in-tact, but you will be more effective in your recruiting efforts.  You want your employees going home after a hard day’s work telling their friends and family how much they enjoy their place of work.   You want your customers happy with the level of service you have provided to them and to make sure they are telling their peers about their experience.  Word will spread quickly on how you are treating others, good or bad.


Brand Management is not achieved overnight.  It is something that needs consistency and continual management.  Good management practices start with treating people with respect, making them feel appreciated, along with open and honest and communication.  It starts at the top with the company leaders setting the tone for the others to follow.  If you can build your employment brand as a place people want to be, it increases workplace productivity, reduces the turnover rate, and in the end reduces your overall costs of running a successful business.  If you would like additional information on this topic, please contact the employment experts at Palmer Group.

The Importance of Open Communication in the Workplace

April 9th, 2014

If you are going to lead a successful business, you must create an environment with open communication and trust.  Open communication allows your employees to be more engaged and understand that what they do matters in the success of the business. Making sure your employees understand the big picture and the part they play in the success of the organization will help them understand why decisions are made and how those decisions impact them specifically and the company as a whole.   Effective communication will lead everyone to be on the same page; moving in the same direction toward the same goal.

Effective communication seems simple, but it does take effort.  Management should communicate their goals as well as those of the company. Routinely talking with your employees about their goals, both personal and professional, will create accountability for both management and employees.  When an issue surfaces, it must be dealt with immediately so everyone can move on.  Achievements must be recognized and communicated not only directly to the deserving individual, but publically so all can take part in the celebration.    When you create an open environment, it will lead to greater job satisfaction, reduced stress, loyalty and mutual respect throughout the organization with the outcome of creating a more productive work environment and a positive workplace.



Don’t Miss Out: Evaluating a Candidate’s Social Profiles In Addition to a Resume

February 14th, 2014

A resume and a detailed cover letter can provide volumes of information about a candidate’s personality and her readiness for the job. But when you’re faced with a stack of fifty resumes and only five available interview spots, you may benefit from an additional source of data that can help you make smart decisions and narrow the field. Enter social media. As you factor social profiles into your interviewing and hiring decisions, keep these considerations in mind.

Use Caution

Before you take this step, recognize the risks you incur to your company and its reputation. For example, simply opening a profile and discovering that the resume in front of you belongs to someone who is confined to a wheelchair can create a host of problems that you didn’t have two minutes before you made this move. Ensure that you know what you are looking for when opening social profiles, and take great care to not allow any bias to enter your evaluation.

Make Intelligent Use of the Information You Find

The HR world is full of sad stories like the one about the manager who opened a candidate’s profile and found pictures of her wearing a backpack and trekking through a remote part of the world. The manger rejected the candidate, since the photo made her appear “frivolous, unfocused, and out of touch with corporate culture.” This brilliant and talented marketing professional was later hired by the company’s competitor. A huge loss for the organization, based on nothing but a foolish Facebook review. Don’t miss out on great hires who cavort with their friends, wear unprofessional clothing, or have a life outside of their jobs. False impressions lead to self-defeating hiring decisions.

Use Social Profiles to Find Cultural Matches

If you’re ready to keep these warnings in mind and move forward with your social media search undeterred, use what you find to identify signs of a strong cultural match. If your office is populated with outdoorsy types, for example, then a candidate who likes camping, hiking or surfing might fit in well here.

For more information on how to work social media profiles into your candidate search, reach out to the Des Moines employment professionals and workforce specialists at The Palmer Group.

When is the Best Time to Start Looking for Candidates?

February 7th, 2014

At this time of year, employment professionals find themselves fielding plenty of questions related to timelines. Clients and business owners want to match their hiring plans with their business cycles, and job seekers are trying to anticipate these plans in order to position themselves for the best opportunities. So staffing and HR professionals are faced with questions like “Should I start the summer hiring process now, or wait until the spring?” And “I know my employee won’t retire until the fall, but I need her replacement to pick up exactly where she leaves off. What should I do?” And the most common question: “I expect my business to grow this year. I’m pretty sure we’re going to hit this one out of the park. Should I wait until my orders pile up, or should I hire right now?”

Our response can be broken down into two parts, or two schools of thought. Here are a few key benefits of each.

Just-In-Time Hiring

Lean hiring and lean manufacturing are built on the same basic principle: less is more. If efficiency is your goal and excess hands translate directly into lost money, then JIT hiring may be a wise move for you. Regardless of your business cycle, hire only when your current teams are bursting under the strain of their workloads and are about to become resentful. If your employees have already passed resentful and are now looking for other jobs, you’ve gone too far. But right up to that critical moment, if you take on extra hands, you’ll be setting yourself up to pay employees for their availability, not their productivity.

This strategy works best when your new employees step in the door already trained and experienced and ready to grab the ropes. To find these candidates, you’ll have to balance JIT philosophies with enough lead time to conduct a thorough search.

Pipeline Building and Long Term Planning

On the other hand, employees with highly specialized skills are hard to find, regardless of the state of the job market. And if you don’t give yourself enough lead time (sometimes months or even years), you won’t have a replacement ready when your senior employees give notice, and you won’t be able to transfer their wealth of institutional knowledge before they walk out the door.

If you’re more concerned with quality than efficiency, then the more lead time you give yourself, the better. In fact, you may want to develop a long term staffing plan that carries your company through the next two, three or five years. Approach your entry level employees now and start the grooming process that will carry them up through the ranks in the years ahead.

For more information on how to develop and carry out your long term and short term staffing plans, contact the experts at the Palmer Group.