7 Effective Strategies for Hard-to-Fill Positions

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With the labor
market continuing to tighten in 2020—a trend that has been ongoing for the last
several years—there is no doubt that it is, and will continue to be, a job
seekers’ market. But the classification of what is hard to fill is changing. It’s
no longer highly technical or specialized positions only, it’s also hourly labor
positions. Finding qualified candidates can seem utterly impossible at times—but
it doesn’t have to be.

Old approaches to
recruitment, like casting a wide net on job boards, don’t work well (in general)
but they especially don’t work well in the world of niche hiring. Instead of
scrambling, recruitment teams need to plan ahead and get strategic.

Here we’ve compiled
a list of seven strategies to help kick-start your 2020 recruiting efforts. While
a more sales- and marketing-based approach is key (more on that below), it
mostly comes down to developing networks that promote a strong relationship
with both clients and prospective candidates.

Number 1: Employee

Employee referrals are
a top source of hires for employers. Not only do employee referrals help you
recruit faster and at a lower cost, they can also help improve employee
retention by offering a better cultural fit since these candidates already have
an idea about your organization from at least one person in their network.

Referrals are great
for hard-to-fill jobs, especially when you need to ramp up quickly or have
roles to fill in competitive spaces like healthcare or technology. Your
employees become extended members of your recruiting team by helping to
identify candidates in their networks and serving as brand ambassadors for your

Number 2:  Employer Brand

Speaking of brand
ambassadors, your employee-referral program will work much better if you have a
well-developed employer brand. Social media and content marketing are reshaping
the recruitment landscape and recruitment teams need to think more like
marketers. Many people today choose companies based on their lifestyles and
interests. Social media and content marketing can help job seekers understand
what it’s like to work at your organization and help shape recruitment content
for specific roles, positioning you as an employer of choice.

It’s also important
to note that many candidates for hard-to-fill positions may be passive job
seekers; a strong employer brand will help to attract them.  

Number 3: Identify
Niche Communities

There are many niche
communities, websites and job boards online that can serve as great sources of
potential job candidates. These communities help members seek out jobs while networking
in their relevant fields. Identify niche online communities and work to attract
candidates that meet a specific profile.

You can also target
industry-specific trade associations, but keep in mind that most have regional
and local chapters in addition to national ones.

Number 4: Look for
Talent from Within

Some of the most
difficult roles to fill are newly emerging roles. Or, positions for a new
business unit inside the company, where industry or company-specific knowledge
is key.

In these cases,
looking for talent from within may be the best choice. Set up internal sites
where coworkers can learn about other departments and opportunities within the
company and provide them with access to information to make career mapping easier.

Build cross-training
and mentoring into your organization’s culture. The rewards will not only
positively affect employee retention and engagement but can also help with your
hard-to-fill challenges.

Number 5: Revise Your
Job Descriptions

Write realistic job
descriptions, not a laundry list of skills or experiences for the job. You are
trying to attract talent, so be sure to use language that highlights the
benefits of working at your organization.

Remember to also include
company benefits, special perks like annual outings and internal committee
opportunities, corporate social responsibility initiatives that your company
participates in or challenging projects future employees can expect to work on.

Number 6: Total

When hiring niche
talent, have accurate compensation data at the ready so you can make
competitive offers quickly. Competitive or above-average compensation offers
are key to hiring top talent.

Partner closely with
your compensation team and bring them in early in the process so you are on the
same page about benchmark data and compensation philosophy. Use feedback from exit
interviews with candidates and employees to shape total rewards.

Number 7: Recruitment

Recruitment teams should
be well-trained to handle the strategies and activities required for
hard-to-fill positions. Industry-specific knowledge and certifications, a
thorough understanding of marketing- and sales-based tools and an integrated
plan are important elements to reach hard-to-fill candidates. And because
trends and technology can change quickly, ongoing training is a must to keep
your teams in expert shape.

Final Thoughts

The talent pool is
shrinking but that doesn’t mean hard-to-fill positions have to be impossible to
fill. Take the time to audit your approach and map out the strategies that will
work best for your organization. Keep in mind the importance of training your
teams so they can be successful, and finally, don’t forget to measure and
revisit what you’re doing to ensure you have the best strategy given the
changing market conditions. In TA, it’s never business as usual. It’s critical
to stay ahead of the trends in order to be successful, especially when it comes
to hard-to-fill positions.


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