Why we should focus more on recruiting low-skilled workers

When I started my staffing franchise, a mentor gave me a couple books for suggested reading about business and about recruiting.

One of them was the book “Who: the A Method for Hiring” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. It was fascinating, and I enjoyed reading it, but it applied more to recruiting professional or high-paid positions.

There was one interesting anecdote in which a candidate applying for an executive position had punched a colleague and failed to get the job.

It was an entertaining story, but I remember wondering why so much of the book was focused on recruiting executives.

The problem with the book was that it focused predominantly on executive or highly paid positions, and not on general rank-and-file employees or production or manufacturing positions.

The vast majority of open positions are not for CFOs, CEOs, or engineers, but production workers, restaurant workers, grocery store workers, janitors, and other typically lower paid positions.

These positions are unfortunately often considered to be of lesser importance. Yet these employees are often the heart and soul of an organization.

My agency works in part on recruiting higher paid positions, but a large part of our business is focused on placing production workers or manufacturing workers who make $16/hr. or less.

Those of us in the professional world often make the assumption that most people in America make $50,000 or more.

Most workers are not highly paid. Most recruiting work is non glamorous and seeking to find employees whose work is not glamorous.

A full-time, high paying steady job with benefits, paid vacation and holidays is actually not the norm.

Consider these numbers:

About 44% of workers, or 53 million people, are employed in low-wage jobs earning a median of $18,000 a year, according to a 2019 Brookings study.

About 25 million workers are part-time, about 16.6% of the workforce.

Less than 50% of individuals had a net compensation of more than $35,000, according to the Social Security Administration.

37.1% of households in the U.S. earn less than $50,000 a year, as of 2019.

53.6% of households earn less than $75,000 a year, as of 2019.

One study shows that by 2030, “50 percent of the American workforce will work irregular hours, earn irregular pay, and receive no benefits.”

Only about a third of American adults have a bachelor’s degree, even though that percentage has grown considerably.

Median weekly earnings by employee was $989 per week. If you are not in New York or California, that median should be considerably lower. You might be tempted to see that number, then calculate it by 40 hours a week and then 52 weeks a year. But remember that many employees don’t work full-time and many others aren’t paid benefits. And many other workers are gig workers, contractors, temps, or self-employed and aren’t paid a salary at all. The average number of hours worked per week were 34.4.

There are millions of employees who don’t have a vast amount of education or experience. But many of these are the rank-and-file positions and the heart and soul of a company’s operation.

Studying their needs and how to recruit them is pivotal to most organizations.

Most of these positions have more openings and more turnover than executive and professional positions. So it will take more time than others to find the right people.

This also means that many of these positions will be much less competitive. Less competition from the candidates will mean that the employer and hiring manager will need to work harder to recruit them.

Taking time to study how to recruit for these positions will be time well spent.

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