10 Strategies for Recruiting In a Highly Competitive Job Market

We continue to hear how recruiting is a challenge. In a research report published last year by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), sixty-eight percent (68%) of HR professionals are experiencing difficulty recruiting candidates. There are several reasons for the increased difficulty including skills gaps and lack of experience. However, forty-nine percent (49%) of HR pros cited competition from other employers as part of the challenge.

I feel like l’ve always worked in highly competitive environments. My thought is there are two different kinds of competition:

  • Industry-based is specific to a type of work, like the competition for tech talent in Silicon Valley. It could be based on a highly technical position. Or it could be the result of a geographic region becoming a hub for certain types of businesses.
  • General competition applies to all jobs, and is the result of low unemployment, increased voluntary quits, etc. It could also be the result of a geographic region getting a large employer and creating lots of jobs. Another reason could be a skills gap in a much-needed area like supervisory skills or critical thinking.

Organizations are not immune to competition and must be prepared to address both types.  And, the answer isn’t poaching employees. It’s taking steps to make your organization rises above the competition.

10 Activities Your Organization Can Do to Recruit More Effectively Against the Competition

  1. Build a solid employment brand. It starts with understanding what makes your organization unique. If your recruiting team doesn’t know, how will they sell candidates on the value of coming to work for the company? Make a concerted effort to find out why employees stay. Hiring managers could make this a “stay interview” question during their one-on-one meetings.
  2. Be a great employer. Don’t hesitate to apply for a local/state/national “best places to work” award. It’s a great way to promote your organization and culture. Also, consider allowing the HR team to present at conferences. Not only is it great professional development for HR but they are sharing the company’s best practices.
  3. Have a competitive compensation and benefits package. I realize a lot goes into the conversation about employee compensation and benefits. But the reality is, as the job market gets more competitive, so do compensation and benefits. Organizations need to ensure their packages are internally fair and externally competitive.
  4. Have a good employee referral program. Employee referrals continue to be the most cost-effective source of quality applicant flow. If the company is offering a bonus for recommending candidates, make sure it’s appropriate given your cost per hire. And consider adding alumni and contingent workers – both in terms of being referred and providing referrals. They’re a key piece to today’s recruiting strategy.
  5. Give candidates a realistic job preview. Job seekers are doing their homework before applying with a company. Organizations should develop a career portal where active and passive job seekers can see a typical “day in the life” of an employee. This can be done with video and using employee testimonials. Also, while I know it’s an extra step, consider using more readable/relatable job descriptions (versus legalese ones.)
  6. Make it easy to apply. HR professionals and hiring managers should try to find and apply for a job at their company to understand what applicants go through. Organizations need to distribute their job openings where candidates spend their time – one of those places being social media. And, candidates should be able to easily view and apply for jobs using their mobile devices.
  7. Build a talent community. The days of recruiting only when there’s an open job requisition are over. Competition means recruiting all the time. If you don’t have an opening, find a way to keep job seekers engaged. And if job seekers aren’t ready to apply, find a way to keep them engaged. Create a community where future candidates can learn about the company.
  8. Promote your brand! I know I’ve said that organizations need to build great career websites, distribute job openings on social media, and make sure your site is mobile responsive. That alone isn’t enough. Recruiters need to start taking media requests to talk about the company brand. They need to teach employees how to use social media so they can, in turn, talk about the company brand.
  9. Train hiring managers to interview well. Organizations shouldn’t assume that everyone knows how to interview. Interviewing is harder than it looks. Recruiters should help hiring managers understand the connection between cost per hire, turnover, and the hiring process.
  10. Consider boomerangs. This won’t apply in every situation, but giving former employees a door to return to can be a very successful strategy. Allow an employee to leave, gain new skills, and return with a fresh perspective. Just be sure to address old issues that caused them to leave in the first place.

If you’re a good employer, job seekers will want to work for you. Organizations need to get the word out about their culture, jobs, and benefits. Now isn’t the time to be shy about the benefits of working at your organization. Because you can bet your competition is telling candidates the benefits of working for them.

Originally published on the HR Bartender blog.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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