Still Struggling to Fill Empty Positions? Try Easing the RequirementsThe labor shortage has prompted companies to redefine what constitutes a 'qualified applicant.'

 (INC) Not enough résumés crossing your desk? Try following the lead of CEOs across the country and getting creative with whom you consider a potential hire.

Without enough traditional applicants, companies have broadened their scope and dropped requirements that would have been considered the bare minimum before the pandemic. About a quarter of CEOs have altered their hiring criteria, according to a new report from the Conference Board. The midyear study surveyed 750 executives between May 10 and May 24.

In an effort to increase the number of candidates, CEOs had their companies rewrite standard job postings, including lowering the number of required years of experience, the survey found. Some CEOs have decided to remove degree and certification requirements. Seven percent of C-suite executives instituted second-chance hiring practices to consider individuals who have been previously incarcerated. Hiring full-time workers have proved so difficult that a quarter said their company would rely more on contract workers in the future. 

This could serve as a powerful remedy for the more than half of small-business owners who cannot fill their job openings, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Many companies trying to increase headcount report receiving few or no qualified applicants for open roles, with a quarter of business owners citing labor quality as their single most important problem.

Small businesses cannot count on patience to solve the issue. With the unemployment rate near a 50-year low and job vacancies at historic levels, the labor shortage shows no signs of abating. "The current picture is plain to see," Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said during a press conference in Washington, D.C., last week. "The labor market is extremely tight."

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