JOBS, JOBS, JOBS

Houston leads U.S. with this aggressive strategy to lure top talent, says new survey

More full-time jobs are on the way to Houston. Photo by Edmond Dantès via Pexels

Many employers in Houston are ready to field new full-time employee applicants — and are ready to aggressively sweeten the deal.

New survey data from staffing firm Robert Half shows 50 percent of companies in Houston plan to add new full-time jobs in the second half of 2021. That's right on pace nationally; the number was 51 percent. Managers at companies with at least 20 employees participated in the survey.

Among the 28 U.S. cities in the Robert Half survey, those with the highest percentage of employers who expect to staff up this year are San Diego (62 percent), Dallas (61 percent), and Atlanta and Los Angeles (58 percent each).

Elsewhere in Texas, 51 percent of Austin employers plan to add new full-time jobs.

Meanwhile, Houston leads the nation in plans to lure top talent. To attract new workers, 56 percent of Houston employers surveyed by Robert Half indicate they're handing out signing bonuses, versus 53 percent in Austin and 52 percent in Dallas. The same figure across the 28 cities in the survey was 48 percent.

"Hiring is happening across the board, and competition for talent is intensifying. Simultaneously, job seekers are becoming more discerning when evaluating opportunities," Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, says in a news release. "With these two forces at play, employers need to exceed candidates' expectations or risk losing them to better offers."

This hiring surge comes amid substantial workforce turnover this year triggered in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic. Seventy-five percent of Houston employers say they've experienced increased turnover this year, compared with 80 percent in Austin and 71 percent in Dallas. Nationally, the same number was 73 percent.

"Professionals with in-demand skills often have their pick of jobs," McDonald says. "To stand the best chance of winning over top candidates, employers need to modernize and minimize role requirements, move quickly, and make the most competitive offer possible from the start."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

SurgWise is giving surgical teams the right support for hiring. Photo via Getty Images

A surgeon spends over a decade in school and residency perfecting their medical skills, but that education doesn't usually include human resources training. Yet, when it comes to placing candidates into surgical programs, the hiring responsibilities fell on the shoulders of surgeons.

Aimee Gardner, who has her PhD in organized psychology, saw this inefficiency first hand.

"I worked in a large surgery department in Dallas right out of graduate school and quickly learned how folks are selected into residency and fellowship programs and all the time that goes into it — time spent by physicians reviewing piles and piles of like paper applications and spending lots and lots and of hours interviewing like hundreds of candidates," Gardner tells InnovationMap. "I was just really shocked by the inefficiencies from just a business and workforce perspective."

And things have only gotten worse. There are more applicants hitting the scene every year and they are applying to more hospitals and programs. Future surgeons used to apply for 20 or so programs — now it’s more like 65 on average. According to her research, Gardner says reviewing these applications cost lots of time and money, specifically $100,000 to fill five spots annually just up to the interviewing phase of the process.

Five years ago, Gardner came up with a solution to this “application fever,” as she describes, and all the inefficiencies, and founded SurgWise Consulting, where she serves as president and CEO.

"We help provide assessments to help screen competencies and attributes that people care about," Gardner says. "(Those) are really hard to assess, but really differentiate people who really thrive in training in their careers and people who don't."

Aimee Gardner is the CEO and president of Houston-based SurgWise. Photo via surgwise.com

These are the non-technical skills, like the professionalism, interpersonal skills, and communication. While SurgWise began as a service-oriented consulting company, the company is now ready to tap technology to expand upon its solution. The work started out of Houston Methodist, and SurgWise is still working with surgery teams there. She says they've accumulated tons of data that can be leveraged and streamlined.

"We're now pivoting from a very intimate client approach to a more scalable offering. Every year we assess essentially around 80 percent of all the people applying to be future surgeons — those in pediatric surgery, vascular surgery, and more,” Gardner says. “We’ve used kind of the last five years of data and experiences to create a more scalable, easy-to-integrate, and off-the-shelf solution.”

Gardner says her solution is critical for providing more equity in the hiring process.

“One of our goals was to create more equitable opportunities and platforms to assess folks because many of the traditional tools and processes that most people use in this space have lots of opportunity for bias and a high potential for disadvantaging individuals from underrepresented groups," she says. "For example, letters of recommendation are often a very insider status. If you went to some Ivy League or your parents were in health care and they know someone, you have that step up from a networking and socioeconomic status standpoint."

Personal statements and test scores are also inequitable, because they tend to be better submissions if people have money for coaching.

SurgWise hopes to lower the number of programs future surgeons apply to too to further streamline the process. She hopes to do this through an app and web tool that can matchmake people to the right program.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a platform for applicants to obtain a lot more information about the various places to which they apply to empower them to make more informed decisions, so that they don't have to apply to a hundred places," Gardner says. "We want to essentially create a match-style app that allows them to input some data and tell us 'here's what I'm looking for here are my career goals and any preferences I have.'”

While that tool is down the road, Gardner says SurgWise is full speed ahead toward launching the data-driven hiring platform. The bootstrapped company hopes to raise early venture funding this summer in order to hire and grow its team.

“As we continue to consider this app that I talked about and some of the other opportunities to scale to other specialties we're gonna start looking for a series A funding later this summer.”

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