August 15, 2018

How to recruit competitive candidates in a job seeker's market

The low overall unemployment rate is great for the economy and job seekers, but it means recruiting and hiring competitive candidates is a lot more difficult. But there's a lot you can do to position your brand to attract and hire competitive talent. Here, some tips to get started.

With a 4.1% overall unemployment rate – 2.1% among workers with bachelor’s degrees – employers are looking at the lowest unemployment rates since the economic boom in the 1990s. This is great news for the economy and job seekers… but for most recruiters, it’s just one more reason to lose sleep at night.

We know what you’re thinking – it’s hard enough to find solid candidates when employers have the advantage, it’s going to be nearly impossible now. And yes, when such a vast majority of workers are happily employed, recruiting and hiring competitive candidates is a lot more difficult.

But we have some good news: big and small companies alike have weathered far worse storms than this, and there’s a lot you can do to position your brand to attract and hire competitive talent in a job seeker’s market. Here are three ways to get started:

Pay more attention to your employer brand

When 69% of candidates say they are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand, it’s clear that your employer brand has an impact on your ability to attract and retain talent year after year. But in a job seeker’s market, that impact skyrockets because in-demand candidates can afford to be more choosey. Candidates that typically just evaluate standard job characteristics like salary, benefits, and location now have the luxury of considering less measurable differences like company culture, diversity and inclusion, and growth opportunities.

Seal the deal with competitive candidates by providing a comprehensive look at what your company is like after the first interview: photos of real staff members, descriptions of “A Day in the Life” for competitive positions, and highlights of the causes and interests of your current team. A clearly defined, authentic employer brand will set your employment offer apart from all the others a candidate may be considering.

Tighten up your candidate interview experience

A timely and respectful interview process should be standard practice for every employer, but it’s even more important when you’re recruiting in a job seeker’s market. When candidates are being pursued by multiple companies trying to fill the same role, you simply can’t afford to turn off a perfect candidate with a slow and disorganized introduction to your company – they might not wait to hear more.

Consider tightening up and trimming down different aspects of your candidate interview process to make it the most engaging experience possible:

  • Map out your standard process start to finish so that every candidate gets the same number of interviews and interactions (collecting consistent data will also help you evaluate candidates more accurately)
  • Identify opportunities to over-communicate with candidates throughout the process to build trust; try not to let more than five business days pass without checking in, even if you have nothing new to share
  • Identify the most effective (not the most entertaining) interview questions to ask and ask them consistently; aim to start conversations, not to trigger canned responses
  • Coach interviewers to find ways to give, not take, during the interview – try to see how much information and insight you can give to the candidate and see how they respond and connect with the knowledge, not necessarily how much information you can pull out of them

Look at your unique hiring obstacles and remove them

The best way for your company to stay competitive in a job seeker’s market? Identify your company’s unique hiring limitations and try to address them. You may not be able to remove all barriers to employment – your working hours may be fixed by industry standards, and you may not be able to welcome dogs in your office because it’s open to the public – but if you ask for feedback from current employees and prospective candidates and listen to it, you may be surprised to find there’s a lot you can do to make your job listings stand out.

For example, according to SHRM, some companies are re-thinking a zero-tolerance drug policy in order to fill jobs (for roles not regulated by government requirements, of course). Other companies are removing advanced degree requirements (citing the lack of correlation between education and performance), opening once on-site positions to remote candidates, and adding nice-to-have benefits like gym memberships, childcare reimbursement, and on-site meals.


This post was originally published on Glassdoor, one of the world's largest job posting and recruiting sites.

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