HR Real Talk: Recruiting In A Candidate Market

It’s a candidate’s world. There. I said it. I said exactly what everyone that is in the talent acquisition world already knows. If you are a hiring manager or looking for qualified candidates to fill your job openings, you are well aware that the competition is fierce and it is getting harder and harder to find those individuals to fill your crucial company roles. This is a stark contrast from 10 years ago when we were all on the opposite end of the spectrum and I am finding it hard for companies to acclimate. In this blog post, I am hoping to address not only the talent shortage at hand, but also ways to overcome and succeed in your hiring pursuit.

So how exactly did we get here? I remember when I first started my career in 2011 with the Kentucky Career Center. At that time, we were still reeling from the 2008 recession and with total unemployment benefits with (both Federal and State extensions) lasting a little over two years. Fortunately, our economy has stabled out quite significantly since then and today, we are looking at a 4.1% national unemployment rate. This is great news. However, going from such a dramatic end of the spectrum to another often presents its own set of new challenges, and for the first time in a long time, we are experiencing a completely candidate-driven market.

Telltale Signs of the Candidate Market:

The unemployment rate is really low. Currently at 4.1%, this is the lowest unemployment rate our country has seen since December of 2000 (when the UI rate was at 3.9%). Essentially speaking, this automatically drives our candidate pool way down.

More offers are being declined. This activity started really hitting me hard about a year ago. With the talent pool shrinking, more and more offers are being rejected. Furthermore, companies are offering counter offers to retain existing employees.

Job growth is through the roof. I make a real effort to try and keep up with the new industries that are coming into and expanding in Kentucky. However, job growth is occurring everywhere and rapidly. While this is a wonderful thing (and certainly preferable to the lack of jobs), candidates and qualified talent are being presented with more offers- and quickly. This, in turn, has resulted in way more options for candidates and fewer options for hiring companies.

Now that I have stated the obvious and laid out the facts to support the obvious, the real question is how do we acquire the right people for our company with the candidate market being so tight? This is the million dollar question, and if I could answer it, I promise you I would be on an island somewhere. However, there are initiatives and strategies that you can take in order to fill the critical gaps in your workforce.


Tips For Recruiting in a Candidate-Driven Market:

Be ready to make an offer. While there are a million fish in the sea, there are a limited number of candidates right now. If you are serious about recruiting qualified talent for your team, do not hesitate to extend an offer to a qualified candidate. Prolonging or waiting to extend an offer during this market will more than likely result in losing the candidate altogether.

Supplement your recruiting. This is a popular strategy when it comes to using temporary agencies to fill in much needed entry level roles. However, there are ways to apply this same concept to professional level positions as well. Contracting is taking over the workforce as is, but it would be easy to supplement your current workforce needs in this same way. Need more advice on this topic? Ask me how.

Find the “motivator” and use it. It goes without saying that attempting to individualize your entire company’s hiring procedures, policies, salaries and benefits is a ridiculous concept. However, using proactive measures and researching the incoming workforce is not a terrible idea. It turns out that there are a lot of comprehensive studies that show that our multigenerational workforce is motivated by different factors. If at all possible, it would be worth looking into ways to adopt these statistics into your future hiring polices. I have actually made a measure in acquiring that information via my intaking process, myself.

Recruiting passive candidates. This is easier said than done. Recruiting passive candidates takes a lot of groundwork and networking. However, using social media, advertising and other outlets never hurts. I would like to point out that these methods are also completely ineffective unless you are also able to find the distinguishing characteristic of your company and sell it. Additionally, when you are applying these methods, you must always consider your audience and which roles you are hiring for.

Communication is key. I frequently practice transparent communication within all of my relationships. I find that honesty is the best policy and try to advocate frequent and consistent communication between my clients and my candidates. For example, if I am working with a candidate that has a high interest in the position that my client is offering, but happens to be involved in another selection process as well, I will ask that candidate if I can share that information with my client. This is not a sales move. This is a genuine effort to maintain an established relationship between two mutual interests. I work very hard to advocate for my clients and I work just as hard to advocate for my candidates- especially if they are a great match for each other.

All in all, the candidate market will not last forever. For all of my candidates out there reading this- remember that as your take away. With a little bit of initiative and a whole lot of patience, we can all survive this candidate market together. I hope this information was helpful. As always, if you need help reaching the best talent for your company, be sure to let me know. And may the odds be forever in your favor.