As the job market in the U.S. remains tight, especially for companies looking to hire experienced talent, recruiters and hiring managers are seeking new pathways to expand their workforce. Unemployment remains well below 4%, where it has stayed since February 2022, and forecasters see no relief for employers in sight.

In the post-pandemic haze of altered routines and rebuilt business models, employers and employees are having trouble finding each other. That’s led to recruitment efforts to seek candidates outside the normal pathways of LinkedIn or traditional job postings. Workplaces are now casting a wider net, augmenting the way they recruit. Experts say these avenues, from partnering with high schools to recruiting from the U.S. military, can expand the talent pool and ensure a robust and diverse workforce.

Zero in on specialized communities

Technical solutions have done little to give both recruiters or job-seekers an edge; hopeful employees may find themselves applying for jobs that don’t exist and employers may discover their best resumes have been flagged and excluded by AI.

Job recruitment has gotten harder, says Katrina Collier, author of “The Robot-Proof Recruiter.” “I remember back in the day you would find a candidate, you would call them, and they would answer their phone because their phone was ringing and they wanted it to stop,” she says with a laugh. 

But these days, she adds,“you feel like you’re just constantly coming up against barriers really to have a conversation.”

AI screening tools may be helpful, especially for positions where a large number of applicants can be expected, but they should be used alongside old-fashioned human skills, Collier says, not in place of them.

The best practice  is not to seek out individuals with laser-targeted ChatGPT-honed job board postings or state-of-the-art application websites, but to identify communities of people who can excel at the work you need done well.

Collier believes professional groups are vital, and can help with the recruitment process. Developers are probably not going to be on LinkedIn, for example, but they can often be found puttering around on GitHub and Stack Overflow. 

“Find your best employee and ask, where would you go to look for a job?” she says. 

Consider the military

U.S. Army Veteran Stephanie Markich spent the early days of her career as a transportation officer, helping to get mail to members of the military across Europe as well as convoys into Bosnia and Croatia. She brought that expertise to P&G, starting her career with the company in supply network operations and is today a senior recruiter, Military & Veteran Recruiting. Markich remains very partial to the vets who have chosen careers at the company.

“I’ve always done military recruiting,” says Markich. “I was very impressed with the team that I met when I started with [P&G]. And I asked to be a member, kind of like, ‘Hey, let me give back.’”

Markich says the four military academies’ alumni conferences are excellent places to find job recruits with skills that translate well to a big company like P&G. She finds the traits military veterans have translates well to the corporate world, including being “great team players,” she says. And the military, she points out, is a diverse place, and people who’ve served in it tend to be comfortable among people who aren’t familiar to them.

“We hire for leadership, and soldiers bring leadership, teamwork, all of those skills that P&G values,” she says.

Seek recent graduates

Employers also often overlook young adults, says Jonathan Johnson, CEO of RootedSchool, a charter school that aspires to help kids affected by systemic racism achieve financial freedom. High school grads like his own former students are often capable of picking up vital skills, he says, and they’re usually very fluent in new technologies and trends. 

Recent graduates are also generally less transient between companies, especially if they’re given institutional support and career guidance and oversight from the jump.

Of course, people in their older teens and twenties may not know their worth or their limitations yet, and Johnson says that it’s important to set expectations especially when hiring for entry level positions. 

“Employers should have the scope of their junior roles clearly defined,” he says. This includes being clear with performance benchmarks and any required credentials. Johnson notes that this kind of clarity can ensure “that success and failure is transparent for everyone to see.” 

It’s also important to start small, he says. Hiring managers may want to onboard just a couple of recent graduates at first and then develop apprenticeship or mentorship programs that can help younger employees find a comfortable rhythm, along with colleagues they can lean on when they start.

“After some practice, explore what it would take to hire more,” he says. 

Finally, Collier adds that one of the best ways to find new talent may be to look closer to home, and within an existing talent pool at a company. That includes speaking with staff with similar backgrounds to a job you’re hiring. Employees may have thoughts on how to locate a new co-worker, and suggestions on where to look. 

“The easiest way to do research,” Collier says, “is to go and talk to the people in your company.”