KALAMAZOO — As she connected with businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, long-time professional recruiter Sheri Welsh noticed that HR departments were becoming largely depleted as the economic slowdown decimated many industries.
This dynamic inspired Welsh and her team at Kalamazoo-based talent acquisition firm Welsh & Associates to design and launch a new service.
Through the Flex Talent Acquisition Program, Welsh & Associates now provides fully customizable human resource solutions that effectively act as an extension of the company’s in-house department.
“Right now, in the midst of the pandemic, there are still companies that are thriving,” said Welsh, whose company has been in business for nearly two decades. “They’re growing. You have organizations that are ramping up new programs and starting new divisions and have a need to hire talent rapidly, but the bandwidth in HR has been squeezed unmercifully by the pandemic.”
Welsh said throughout the course of the pandemic, many HR departments have been caught up in downsizing.
Businesses that managed to stay staffed in this area have found themselves spending most of their time recruiting a workforce for hourly roles and don’t have the capacity to focus on bringing in executives and professionals. This has proven especially true in the manufacturing industry, where COVID-19 has exacerbated existing workforce shortages, Welsh said.
The Flex Talent Acquisition Program, which Welsh & Associates officially launched in January after testing it on existing clients, is a response to this dilemma, helping to meet the rapidly changing talent needs of companies belonging to all types of industries.
“This model doesn’t work maybe two years ago, to be honest,” Welsh said. “Maybe it didn’t make a lot of sense for companies two years ago. But post-pandemic — if we can even say that we’re in the post-pandemic … it has upended so many things with talent acquisition. We are a solutions provider and we felt that the solutions we had to offer could be improved by introducing this model.”
Welsh and her team have made a living finding hard-to-source talent for their clients. Engineers, as one example, enjoy a meager 2.9 percent unemployment rate, making it especially difficult to find any.
“When you look at the (high) unemployment figures, you might assume that you can find talent yourself, and you can, but you can’t find the needle in the haystack — specific talent you’re looking for,” Welsh said.
And that’s the secret sauce for Welsh & Associates. Welsh attributed her company’s ability to source talent to one simple thing.
“It’s good old-fashioned hard work,” she said. “What we’re doing — and it’s been the hallmark of our success for 20 years — is employ executive search techniques to professional level positions. We actually recruit and headhunt talent. We don’t really care if folks are actively looking or not. We want to talk to the very best people doing this work in their field today and we want to talk to them about what we believe is a better opportunity with our clients.”