In times of low unemployment, your sourcing, recruiting, and engagement efforts need to be especially strategic. With fewer active candidates in the market, hiring is rough no matter how you slice it.
You could settle for less qualified hires. You could try to get by without hiring anyone at all. The better option, however, is to adopt these four hiring strategies to recruit more effectively during times of low unemployment:
1. Look Internally First
Your existing employees can be your greatest assets when hiring in a tight market. Employees who have been with the company for a number of years may be ready to move on to something new. If an employee has already reaped all their current position has to offer them, moving them into another role can be just what they need to get reenergized and recommitted to the organization. Plus, transitioning someone to a new role gives them a chance to learn new skills and develop professionally.
Keep in mind, however, that an employee won’t magically be a fit for a new position just because they have performed well in their current one. Your internal hires should face the same level of scrutiny in screening and selection as any external hire would.
2. Open New Sourcing Streams
When it’s time to advertise an open position, you probably think immediately of big names like LinkedIn, Monster, and Indeed. In a tight talent market, however, you may have to get more creative to find and engage candidates.
Fresh talent is pouring out of universities every day, so try using college career boards, alumni groups, and departmental networks to reach this demographic before it even hits the wider job market. These candidates are often starving for work experience and make for eager applicants.
While unemployment is low, underemployment is high. A lot of qualified, talented college graduates are working in retail stores and coffee shops while they wait for the right opportunity to come along. Don’t gloss over these candidates simply because of their current roles. Instead, check their education credentials. You may find out your local barista has the exact skills and knowledge you need.
If you’re only advertising your roles to local audiences, consider expanding to channels that reach national and international talent pools. The more exposure your job post has, the larger your talent pipeline is. That said, it’s important to think strategically. Casting a wide net draws more talent, but many of those candidates won’t be right for your organization. Streamline the screening process so you can quickly assess which applicants are worth your time and which aren’t.
Employee referrals are always a good way to find talent as well. Motivate your employees to participate in your referral program by offering bonuses or other rewards.
If you find you are still spending too much time on sourcing, you might consider leveraging a remote sourcing team. This way, your team won’t have to sacrifice every other talent acquisition task in the pursuit of finding new candidates.
3. Write a Strong Job Ad and Relax Your Requirements
Take a look at your job ads and ask yourself: “If I were looking for a job, would this ad motivate me to apply?”
Unemployment is low, and people have many other open roles to choose from. Your ad needs to really stand out to convince candidates to apply. Your ad copy needs to be attractive, engaging, and inspiring.
Reconsider your requirements as well. Your current list of criteria may be ideal, but is it realistic? In this market, probably not. If your criteria are too complex, candidates won’t apply. It’s better to shoot for candidates who have some of the requirements instead of insisting on an all-or-nothing approach.
Keeping your requirements lax will also bring more interesting talent into your pipeline. For example, if you lower the requirement from 5-7 years of experience to 3-5 years, you may end up finding candidates with new, relevant skill sets you never even considered.
In short: Improve the candidate experience by creating ads that inspire job seekers to apply instead of scaring them away.
4. Don’t Assume Higher Salaries Are What You Need
If you’re tempted to increase your position’s starting salary to attract more eyeballs, wait a second. Is the salary already in line with the market value? If so, there’s no need to adjust it. Instead, try showing off other perks candidates may find attractive.
Of course, that includes benefits like health insurance, dental, vision, and retirement plans, but it should also include the perks associated with your culture. Social events, beer fridges, volunteer opportunities, and professional development programs will all help make your job more attractive to top talent.
Candidates would prefer to hear about your culture from existing employees, so use that to your advantage. Showcase employee testimonials on your site, and share videos of what it’s like to work in your organization. Candidates find this information more convincing when it comes from employees, and these videos and testimonials will motivate many candidates to click “Apply.”
A version of this article originally appeared on the IQTalent Partners blog.
Chris Murdock is cofounder and senior partner of IQTalent Partners.
Chris Murdock is the cofounder and senior partner of IQTalent Partners. Chris has more than 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships while supporting searches across the firm. Prior to founding IQTalent Partners, Chris was a sourcer with Yahoo!’s internal executive recruiting team in the corporate offices in Sunnyvale, California. Previous to Yahoo!, Chris was an associate in the Menlo Park, California, office of Heidrick & Struggles, where he recruited for software, hardware, professional services, and semiconductor clients. Before Heidrick & Struggles, Chris worked in the retail practice of TMP Worldwide in Atlanta, Georgia. While with TMP Worldwide, he worked on CEO, general merchandise manager, and various VP- and buyer-level searches. Chris earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University.