“We can’t find enough workers!”

“Sorry, we’re closed due to staffing shortages.”

“We’re busy but can’t find enough people to work.”

Sound familiar? We’d be willing to bet that you’ve seen a sign like this in the last couple of months, or even said it yourself. We’ve even blogged about it recently. This, like every complicated problem we run across in our businesses, has a solution. And as we find with many complicated problems, the solution is outside of our comfort zones.

So where can we go to get outstanding employees? You might be looking in the wrong place.


When you close your eyes and picture a “perfect” employee that is going to apply for your job posting, what does that person look like? Is it a person who is a certain gender? A certain age? A certain race? Speaks a certain language as their native language? Everyone, no matter how unbiased we think we are, has a picture of that ideal candidate in their minds.

Stepping outside your comfort zone of who is a great fit for the job is the first step. For example, have you always had a female office manager? A male carpenter? A female veterinary technician? A Generation Z or Millennial social media manager? Someone who speaks in your perceived accent-free English to answer the phone?

Be sure your job marketing (i.e. your job posting) does not reflect these biases. Great applicants do research on your company. Allow diverse people to be reflected on your website, social media and more. Let them see themselves in your company.


The reality is that every gender can do every job. If we stop talking about who can do the job, and start talking about what the job requirements are, then we may discover that we’re missing something. In Human Resources, there is a term called Essential Functions. Essential Functions are the “need to have” job requirements rather than the “nice to have” qualifications. Being realistic about Essential Functions can not only broaden your base for hiring, it can save you a bunch of money in Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits.

The ADA defines Essential Functions as “the basic job duties that an employee must be able to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation.” Reasonable accommodation is “any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.” Have an honest look at the job you have posted. Even better, get a great employment attorney to have them assure that your job description isn’t violating the ADA. And stick to it.


We have an awesome client that is in the construction trades. She has a lot of non-native English speakers that apply for her jobs. They are absolutely able to do the work, and they are a fantastic asset to her team. The only thing that is holding them back is that they are struggling with the language, and the communication with their customers as a result. She came up with an innovative solution. She hired an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor to come and teach her employees once a week. The employees love it because it shows that she values them, and the business is thriving as a result. After all, people who you invest in will invest in your business.

Overcoming obstacles is all about creativity. Breaking down the pieces of the actual obstacle, and tackling each piece with a focused strategy leads to success every time.


Thinking outside the box, and more importantly outside your comfort zone, will lead to additional avenues of candidates that you can hire for your job. You may be surprised at who you will find!


Do you need help finding great employees? Are your job descriptions ready for a refresh? Does your team culture need an overhaul? We can help. Schedule your free, no-obligation business analysis today.

About the author,

Director of Marketing, ActionCOACH Columbus

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