hr lessons learned

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HR Lessons Learned: Hiring Takeaways from 5 Different Industries

Talent acquisition is one of the most critical yet challenging undertakings for any business. Companies in many sectors face a shortage of workers today; they face stiff competition to hire applicants—any applicant. At the same time, hiring managers in other sectors must sift through a surplus of applications to find the best candidate.

In 2020, 74 percent of CEOs globally were concerned about the availability of key skills, with 32 percent being “extremely concerned.” There’s sufficient reason behind these concerns, too. A successful hire can extend a business’s value, while a poor selection can represent a considerable waste of resources.

As you can imagine, HR teams and recruiters are looking for ways to solve this problem. And many look for help in this area by turning to other industries. For example, what are companies in tech doing to improve efficiencies in hiring practices? How are organizations in the manufacturing sector, many of which are struggling through a long-term labor shortage, meeting this challenge?

To answer those questions, let’s look at standard hiring practices in five sectors at both ends of the labor spectrum. Perhaps by reviewing the HR lessons learned in each, your company can learn how to optimize your talent acquisition strategy.

1. Technology: Pre-employment Testing

The technology industry is one of the most rapidly growing sectors today. It also involves a high level of specialization and expertise, and as such, has had to develop similarly specialized hiring methods. Most notably, tech companies frequently rely on pre-employment tests.

In the tech sector, an applicant’s education and occupational background isn’t always the most reliable evidence of their skills or aptitude. The tech industry has recognized this, and so businesses frequently require applicants to take a skills assessment. These tests offer more conclusive proof of a candidate’s aptitude in a company’s specific needed skills.

The downside to pre-employment testing is that it’s time-consuming. The more in-depth the assessment, the longer it will delay the hiring process. If companies can afford that time, though, borrowing this practice from the tech sector can produce impressive results.

2. Healthcare: Artificial Intelligence

The medical sector has an 18.7 percent turnover rate, so healthcare companies need to recruit new workers quickly. Consequently, many organizations have turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline the hiring process.

The healthcare industry has a history of using AI to increase medication adherence and more, so applying it to hiring was a natural step. Hospitals use it to automate tedious, repetitive tasks like interview scheduling and application screening. One of the HR lessons learned here is that automation gets promising applicants to the interview stage of hiring quicker, helping speed the journey from application to onboarding.

AI hiring tools are relatively new, but their impact is snowballing in many hiring sectors. With AI, larger businesses in various industries have found solutions that streamline their hiring processes by automating several recruiter and candidate tasks. As technology advances, these tools will be able to do even more to help the hiring process–and they’ll also be more available (and affordable) to smaller businesses.

3. Manufacturing: Passive Candidate Search

Manufacturing companies have had to work with an ongoing labor shortage for years. With fewer people entering the industry, manufacturers have had to find new avenues for recruiting workers. One of the most effective of these strategies has been searching for passive candidates.

Businesses have found that many manufacturing professionals are hard to find because they’re not actively looking for a new job. These workers don’t often apply independently. Given the right opportunity, however, they could be willing to switch careers or positions. Scouring databases of nearby workers, industry-related forums, and other data sources to find these employees helps manufacturers find ideal candidates.

Other industries facing labor shortages can employ the same tactic. After all, sometimes the best employees aren’t actively looking for new work. Until a better offer comes along, that is.

4. Real Estate: Mentorship

Success in the real estate sector often requires experience and intimate industry knowledge. While many companies’ reaction to this hiring environment would be to look for outside, experienced hires, many brokerages take a different approach. Instead of finding already-knowledgeable employees, real estate companies create them through inside hiring and mentorship programs.

The theory behind this approach: It’s easier to find an eager but inexperienced new hire than to poach an experienced outside worker. Real estate brokerages understand that by pairing recruits with their veteran employees, they can cultivate expertise.

By the time these once-inexperienced recruits become eligible for higher-level positions, they’ll be more qualified for it than anyone else. In fact, research shows that outside hires take three years to perform as well as internal hires doing the same job. So, rather than having to find employees in a competitive marketplace, one of the HR lessons learned here is that investing in better training through mentors helps companies more organically build the best workforce.

5. Education: Internships

The hiring process in the education industry is unique. Teaching at a K-12 level requires years of experience through hands-on education programs and passing certification tests. Not all industries have such high requirements, but they can still learn from these pipelines.

College students pursuing education degrees finish their programs by student-teaching at a school. More often than not, the school systems where they student-teach will later hire them as full-time teachers when they graduate. Businesses and other industries can mimic this process by instituting intern programs that act as pipelines to employment.

Universities frequently involve faculty in interviewing and hiring their colleagues. Other industries can benefit from this same practice. In this longer-term hiring approach, employees already have intimate, hands-on knowledge about a position’s actual demands. So they can help spot ideal or unideal candidates and advise hiring decision-makers accordingly.

Businesses Can Learn a Lot from Other Industries

In a labor shortage, hiring companies must look further than their competitors for ideas about how to improve their hiring process. There are many HR lessons learned when taking inspiration from other industries like those mentioned above. These industries can provide practical, novel insights that businesses may not have gained otherwise.

These five industries are not perfect examples of ideal hiring processes, of course, but they all feature useful takeaways. Learning from each, then combining methods as necessary, can help create the optimal talent acquisition system for your company.