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By Holly Lancaster

Low unemployment, lack of skilled trades candidates, seasonal work challenges . . . all of these add up to making recruiting and hiring a challenge. How does an employer find and attract good candidates in today’s competitive job market?

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Here are some tips:

  • Plan and strategize.
  • Create a pipeline of talent.
  • Know and highlight your company brand.
  • Be competitive.
  • Source and seek out candidates.
  • Act fast and be responsive.
  • Harness technology.

Plan and Strategize

Take time to plan for your current and future staffing needs to ensure time and resources are efficiently utilized. Recruiting and employee retention should be a component of your company’s overall strategic plan.

  • Look at the upcoming year and schedule recruiting activities to stay on track and not miss deadlines, including when you will start the process for seasonal hiring, and which recruiting events (such as job fairs) you will attend or sponsor.
  • It’s always a good idea to start thinking about a new hire at least 60 days before you need him or her to start to allow for the recruiting cycle, as well as any notice a new hire will need to provide a current employer.
  • Review recruiting costs for past years and determine where you want to spend your dollars based on avenues that generated the best talent.
  • Consider succession planning and where you will have future needs. Identify internal talent that can move up and take steps early on to get them trained. Employees recognize when they’re given new opportunities and being invested in and this can increase engagement and retention.
  • Finally, ensure you have staff in place to manage the recruiting and staffing process.

Create a Pipeline of Talent

In a tight labor market with hard-to-fill positions and those you know you need to fill each season, continually seek candidates to build and maintain your talent pipeline.

  • Consider keeping certain positions always posted on your website.
  • Networking remains a top way to find candidates.
  • Let business partners, vendors, recruiting contacts, and others in your industry know you are always looking for good talent.
  • Maintain relationships by checking in with potential candidates, even when there are no current openings.

Know and Highlight your Company Brand

  • Do you have a brand, and is it clear?
  • What do you say about your company on your website and what is being said about you on social media?
  • What do current employees say they like?
  • Do you support your community?
  • Is your scheduling or shift pay attractive?

Think about what makes your company a great place to work and highlight that in ads, your screening process and interviews. Create a concise summary to tell your story and make sure everyone involved in the recruiting process has this information and shares it.

Be Competitive

In a tight labor market, candidates may have the choice between several jobs and companies, so pay and benefits must be competitive.

  • Highlight in your postings anything that may set you apart.
  • Health insurance remains a key benefit that employees are looking for, as well as paid time off.
  • Candidates are also increasingly seeking flexibility in work schedules.
  • Student loan repayment is a new and attractive benefit to workers who have school debt.
  • Consider offering a hiring bonus to make coming on board with you even more attractive, spacing out payments for retention.
  • Prepare and have a benefits summary available to hand out to prospective employees.

Source and Seek Out Candidates

A post and hope approach may attract those looking, but often the best candidates are passive—those who are working and not actively looking. The key is to use multiple sources and means to reach out to candidates and find them, instead of just hoping they find you!

  • Seek out candidates using networking sites like LinkedIn, or search resumes on job board sites for the skills and experience you need, and invite applicants to apply or refer others.
  • Stay active on your company Facebook page or other social media avenues. Be sure to mention in your posts that you are hiring and post about it consistently. If your employees “like” these posts, their connections will also see the activity. It’s a good idea to have an employee responsible for this internally when you’re hiring because it’s a great way to get the word out!
  • Ask your top employees where they look for jobs and ensure you are tapping into those sources.
  • Consider an employee referral program, as employees know the work and your company.
  • For laborer or lower-skilled jobs, get in touch with local high schools to be part of career days or job fairs and get in front of students before they start looking.
  • Consider signs on your vehicles, facilities at job sites, or main office, with brief information on pay or benefits that can grab a candidate’s attention (not everyone is looking on the internet).
  • Consider local newspaper postings, placing signs in the community, or radio advertising.
  • An internship program can be a great option to fill needs for work that can be done by students, and at the same time, grow your own employees for future roles.
  • Think about offering a summer or school year internship program and align with local schools and colleges to establish one.

Act Fast and Be Responsive

Two of the biggest mistakes we have seen employers make is not being responsive to candidates and letting the recruiting process stall or move along at a snail’s pace.

  • Respond immediately to new candidates.
  • If candidates do not hear from you in a timely manner, or if there is a lag between an interview and the next stage, they will look elsewhere and you may lose top talent.
  • Keep in touch with them on status and move them along through the process as they often have lots of other job options.

How you treat candidates in the process is a reflection on your business. Be responsive and informative so candidates want your organization to be their next employer.

Harness Technology

Ensure you are using a process that makes it easy for candidates to apply—an easy application process or form—and that you are making the most of social media to promote your jobs.

  • Consider an Applicant Tracking System to make the hiring process more efficient and simpler, including features to communicate with candidates and schedule interviews.
  • Many applicants rely solely on their mobile phones. Consider if it is easy to apply and communicate using apps and electronic devices.

Hiring the right talent is always a challenge. Thoughtful planning and utilizing these tips can help to improve the process of attracting talent in a competitive labor market.

KMA Can Help

KMA Human Resources Consulting’s Recruitment Team has more than 50 years of combined experience in recruiting and staffing across numerous industries. KMA works with clients to develop strategies to maximize talent, and to find candidates with the right skills and cultural fit.

Contact Us

For more information on our services, or to retain one of our recruiting professionals, please contact us today.