But candidates with some rough edges are becoming more attractive because employers have little choice. The low, 4.4 percent unemployment rate means there are few uncommitted workers. There were a record 6.2 million job openings in July, the Labor Department said last week week. And nearly half of about 2,000 companies said they couldn't find qualified candidates for their job openings this year, up from 41 percent in 2016, according to a CareerBuilder survey.
The so-called candidates' job market is a turnabout from the years following the Great Recession, when unemployment hovered near 10 percent and businesses insisted that job applicants boast nine or all 10 of the criteria on their checklists.
Del Toro Loan Servicing, of Chula Vista, Calif., traditionally hired customer service representatives who had prior experience servicing mortgage loans. But with the hunt for new employees stretching to three or four months from a normal six weeks, CEO Drew Louis decided to waive the requirement about 18 months ago. Instead, he targets job-seekers who may lack relevant experience but relate well to customers, including those who are delinquent on their mortgage payments.
"They have to have empathy," he says. "We're going after a much more available market."
His last four hires included a restaurant manager, an administrative assistant and a stay-at-home mother who was venturing back into the workforce in her late 50s. The company, which has 20 employees, supplies the neophytes with training videos so they can learn the basics and then has them work alongside veteran employees. Louis says he's filling openings in two to four weeks. And while it takes a few months for the newcomers to become productive, even experienced new hires take some time to get up to speed. Overall, he says, the entire process, including the candidate search, has been trimmed by about a month.
Louis is also saving money since the green employees start at about $30,000, half the salary of skilled new hires. And since many earn significantly more than they did in their previous jobs, "They have an awesome attitude," he says. Most, he says, are more willing than older hands to call customers simply to see if they need anything.