Prospective employees experience high demand among local employers

Posted: August 18th, 2017

Midlands Business Journal – Article by Dwain Hebda
August 18, 2017

Prospective employees are finding times are good as the local labor market continues to fall short of demand. Workers with particularly robust credentials can practically write their own ticket, say staffing experts.

“The job market in Omaha is still extremely tight for employers but great for employees,” said Doug Misbach, CEO of Noll Human Resource Services. “The unemployment rate is low and most job seekers are currently working while exploring other opportunities.

“There is a shortage of candidates in almost all fields. As companies grow and promote current employees, it has been a struggle to backfill their entry and middle level positions. The demand exceeds the supply of qualified candidates.”

Misbach said many companies are thinking creatively in their efforts to lure additional workers, as well as hand onto the employees they already have.

The ‘time to fill’ for positions has fluctuated some; although it takes longer to find qualified candidates, companies have had to speed up their process to remain competitive in the market,” he said. “We have seen companies decrease their wait time for benefit enrollment, allow more flexible scheduling and increase pay for new employees. We’ve also seen a lot of companies adding perks to work there, such as a casual dress code and incentive programs.”

Nebraska manufacturing companies are particularly hard-hit when it comes to attracting labor, but it hasn’t been enough to sway firms from seeking certain credentials in key roles.

“The overall market seems to be improving in the sense that there are more positions available than in prior months,” said Shari Kearney, president and technical recruiter with JobXSite in Grand Island. “Having said that, companies are being quite selective and holding firm on qualifications such as higher education with specific degree programs or mater’s degrees and professional training such as professional engineer, LEAN certification and Six Sigma Black Belts.”

Kearney said typical wait times for filling positions averages between 45 and 60 days, although plenty of exceptions to this exist, depending on the industry, type of position, company and location. For this reason, manufacturing firms are exploring remote working arrangements where feasible.

“We recently ‘placed’ a couple of remote designers, which from introduction to offer only took two weeks,” she said. “In conducting that search, we found a large pool of candidates interested, closer matches to qualifications were available and candidates could start sooner. According to our client, (remote) roles are far more cost-effective than those involving the typical wait time and relocation expenses.”

Another particularly labor-strapped subset of the market is companies that deal in government contracts, said Mary Graff, certified government contracting specialist with Nebraska Business Development Center at UNO.

“The businesses we work with in the government contracting area are getting contracts and fulfilling the work with existing employees as much as possible,” she said. “This can be due to both the lack of available qualified labor as well as the short time to deliver the work.”

Lang said when companies do get applicants, they are often ineligible due to a myriad of problems. Among these are lack of basic math and reading skills, past attendance issues and inability to pass a drug test or criminal background check. Proper documentation, from immigration papers to a valid driver’s license, is often lacking as well.

Each of these hurdles represents a challenge for companies in hiring, particularly smaller firms competing against much larger competitors.

“Of those they do hire, employees need to be immediately productive,” Graff said. “Depending on the particular contract, businesses may not be able to hire a long-term employee. As a result, many small businesses find themselves stretched thin to produce.”