Hiring in a Tight Labor Market


Think Capability Over Experience

In 2021 The State of Oregon Employment Department reported that there were 222 people employed as bank tellers in central Oregon. Their average hourly income was $18. That’s almost 250 people in our area who are primed for office positions and making less than the average administrative assistant or accounting clerk in central Oregon ($22/hr). In my last article I mentioned the Sansdemic — we have less people in the workforce now than we ever have. That means that companies need to reevaluate how they qualify new candidates. Hiring based on capability over experience is a necessity in this tight labor market.

Hiring based on capability takes more upfront effort, but can ultimately add a huge amount of value to an organization. When you hire for capability, you can often get a ‘discount’ on new employees, inject different thoughts into your organization, and tap into a unique network for future recruiting. Let’s use banks and credit unions as one example of an untapped recruiting ground.

Whether we’re talking about tellers, bankers, loan officers, or branch management, people working in banks have experience performing in an office setting. Don’t discount the basics! These people know how to show up for work, on time, every day. They work with a variety of software and hardware. Most people working in financial institutions have to juggle the needs of keeping an office running, with the relentless stream of people looking for banking assistance. They maintain compliance, provide customer service, often have sales goals, track data, handle cash, schedule appointments, take continuing education courses to keep certifications up to date, and many other day-to-day tasks. Essentially these people know how to work consistently within guidelines. What does your company need? Take a longer look at your companies open job descriptions; are you looking for a title or are you looking for a set of skills? Chances are you can find that set of skills in someone who doesn’t already have the title you’re searching for.

Recruiting for capability is not as straightforward as recruiting for experience. It does take more work out of the gate, but the rewards are worth the effort! It’s also worth the effort to write a new list of skills your ideal candidate would have. Think more about what the person does on the day-to-day and less about what their place in the business is. This can help you pair down to the basics, and find people in other roles that are doing the same things. Once you find out what other jobs require the same skills then you can start building your network in that area as well. Don’t forget the power of networking in terms of recruiting. Talk to everyone. Talk to your banker when you go to the bank, attend networking events, ask your current employees for referrals. Active recruiting is always more effective than passively waiting for someone to apply to your job postings, but your company might not have the resources. In that case take a few extra minutes and post a well written job description under multiple titles. If you want to attract more candidates with the capability to do the role, make it obvious that you’re open to a variety of backgrounds in your job description. Do some market research. Be transparent with your pay. It’s probably more than what these people are making already!

If you do some thinking and decide that recruiting out of a bank or credit union makes sense for your business, there will be some challenges to overcome. Banks are very dependable. Your company will need to present as well established as most people in banking are risk adverse.

Banks have clear expectations and paths for growth. Be prepared to either hire someone for a step-up role or have a clearly defined path for growth. If what you recruiting for is a lateral move, be prepared to talk about the added benefits of working for your company. Banks are very rigid and ultimately, they are just another retail setting. Things that will probably appeal to someone coming out of a bank or credit union will be, more flexibility, remote or hybrid work, less customer interaction, or more specific work.

With less people available to fill the same number of jobs it’s important to remain open-minded when it comes to hiring. Hiring for capability over experience will widen your applicant pool, and help diversify your company. People coming out of banks and credit unions have great skills that can be an asset in any number of other roles. They know how to be somewhere every day and get things done consistently. It takes more upfront work to recruit for capability, and the best way to start is by narrowing in on what industries overlap the skillsets you need, and then actively growing a network in those communities. Whether hiring for capability or experience your company has to have something that a current employer doesn’t.

Hiring can be fun! It’s exciting for everyone involved. Go into the process with that mindset and you will be successful.

Courtney Marshall has been in Bend for six years. Her professional experience includes work domestically and internationally and now she specializes in recruiting exclusively for central Oregon companies. She’s many local companies hire people, including 15 senior-level contributors in 2022.



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