Get More Applicants with an Open Hiring Strategy

If your approach to hiring hasn't changed in recent years, it's time to adopt a radically different strategy, like the "open hiring" concept.

Danielle Riha
July 25, 2022

In our webinar with Neal Glatt, he presented a solid case for adopting a radical new approach to hiring. As he sees it, today’s labor market is completely different from that of just 10 or 12 years ago—which, he says, calls for a completely different strategy to hiring.

Job Openings vs. Unemployment 2022

In the graphic above, the green line represents the number of people who are unemployed and the blue line is the number of job openings in the U.S.

Neal pointed out that in January 2010 we had about 3 million open jobs vs. about 16 million unemployed people. So there were plenty of people to work, and some jobs to be had for some of those people.

“But overall,” he said, “we had this market that was really favoring employers.”

As we moved through the years up until about January 2018, it had been tougher and tougher to find people. Which, Neal says, is just really basic supply and demand. If there's not enough people to fill all the open jobs, then it’s going to be really hard to find new people to hire.

Neal also explained how a bunch of jobs went away during COVID, but things very quickly went back to the same pattern of the number of openings outpacing number of available people to work.

“We've got 11 million open jobs right now but we only have about 6 million people unemployed. So, what you have to understand is that the job market has completely flipped from where we were just 10 years ago; it's a totally different picture.”

Because of that totally different picture, Neal says it’s time to adopt a totally different approach to hiring, if you haven’t already.

“We cannot be doing the same thing we were doing 10 or 12 years ago," he said. "We can't even be doing incremental improvements over what we were doing 10 or 12 years ago. We have to have a radically different strategy.”

Open Hiring: A Radically Different Hiring Strategy

Early in the webinar, Neal went into great detail about how there are demographics and characteristics of groups of people who experience unemployment at a much higher rate than others, including:

  • People from disadvantaged backgrounds who grew up in tougher neighborhoods, or who come from a history of drug abuse, violence or poverty
  • People who are uneducated or unexperienced who maybe didn't finish college, high school or middle school; or they're fresh out of one of those levels of education
  • People who are disabled mentally or physically to any varying degree
  • Immigrants who have come to this country legally but have struggled to find a job and build a community here
  • Veterans who are struggling to find a new identity after their military service
  • People who are long-term unemployed or have many years of under- or unemployment on their work history
  • People who are formerly incarcerated
  • Retired people who have taken an early retirement who maybe are finding that they still want to work in some fashion or some capacity

Because these people are more likely to be screened out of the typical hiring process, Neal suggests that owners and leadership in the green industry consider capitalizing on the rare opportunity to employ some of these people.

As an example, if you do landscape maintenance or you have a garden or nursery center where there's a role that is not in a public-facing capacity, that person’s appearance does not matter. Someone who has face tattoos or piercings or who is not articulate or has trouble socially conversing with people—Neal says those folks can really thrive in the green industry because a lot of those front line positions don't have the same requirements as, say, operating a cash register or working in a bank.

A Case Study for Open-Hiring

An open hiring policy may sound good in theory, but does it really work? Watch the video below to find out what happened when The Body Shop implemented an open hiring policy at some of their stores.

According to the case study, workers hired from these untapped talent pools were 60% more likely to stay, and even increased productivity by 13%.

Neal asks an important question in the video: Why is it that these people are less likely to leave, let alone be more productive?

It’s his belief that hiring people who are in a tough spot in life, and who keep getting passed over for jobs, are often very grateful for the opportunity. In his experience, those people were really looking to make a positive change in their life and were therefore very motivated internally to do the best they possibly can at their job.

How to Apply the Open Hiring Concept to Landscaping Roles

In the video above, The Body Shop asked their candidates just three questions: Are you legal to work in the us? Can you stand on your feet for eight hours? And can you lift 50 pounds?

Neal says you might need a little bit more information to hire a landscaping worker, but not much. He recommends asking these six questions:

  • Can you work legally in the us?
  • What distance do you have to travel to get to the job?
  • Are you willing to commute?
  • Do you have the physical ability to do the work?
  • Do you have the availability to work?
  • Do you have a willingness to learn?

And if the candidate answers yes to all of them, then you hire them, on the spot!

Up Next: Hiring Best Practices

Continue watching the webinar to hear more from Neal on industry best practices for hiring, the best places to post your job openings, and more.

Thriving with Untapped Talent Pools in the Green Industry: A Webinar On-Demand with Neal Glatt


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