U.S. unemployment recently fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest rate in nearly 50 years. Record-low unemployment is beneficial to job seekers looking for their next opportunities, but makes the hiring market more competitive than ever before for employers.

Most top talent is already gainfully employed, meaning job seekers today can be more selective when it comes to finding and accepting new positions. So how can your business stand out from the competition and build a great team at a time of record-low unemployment? It's critical to be more strategic about your hiring efforts and have a continuous hiring plan in place. Here are some tips to get started.

Develop a Recruitment Roadmap

Just as your team likely develops a product roadmap and outlines measurable goals for each month, quarter or year, it's also important to develop a recruitment roadmap with specific goals and milestones. For example, if your company plans for 50 percent revenue growth year-over-year, you should plan out how many sales, customer service and other hires you'll need to make across teams to keep up with this growth.

Include projected employee headcount growth in your overall company budget, and make sure your HR and recruiting team understand what it will take to reach these goals. By having a plan in place instead of scrambling to open roles one by one as your company grows, you can ensure you have plenty of time to follow a strategic hiring process, instead of hiring the first somewhat qualified candidate who applies.

Maintain a Compelling List of Job Descriptions

A key piece of any recruitment roadmap is a repository of compelling job descriptions. Particularly for roles you know you'll fill multiple times throughout the year, job descriptions should be easy to access, update and post as needed - rather than starting from scratch each time you have an open role.

Beyond simply listing the job overview and responsibilities, to attract top talent, your job description needs to answer the "What's in it for me?" question for candidates. As most of today's job seekers are already employed, you need to embrace job descriptions as an opportunity to sell candidates on joining your team. Your job descriptions should highlight key benefits such as 401(k), health care, discounts on community events, business partnerships (including gym membership discounts and technology discounts), professional development (paid training or other certifications employees for employees), career paths and what type of commitment you make to work-life balance.

Build a Strong Career Site

Not only does your team need a list of compelling job descriptions, but a strong career site is also key for highlighting your employment brand and attracting top talent. My company recently refreshed our culture video, which is posted on our career site so prospective applicants can see firsthand employee testimonials about what it would be like to join the team. Over the years, our previous culture video was one of the top drivers of applicants, and we're excited to see the results the new video will drive.

Other than creating a culture video, your career site should highlight the same benefits outlined in your job descriptions, as well as an overview of career sites so job seekers can imagine their growth on your team.

Continuously Hire

Once you have a recruitment roadmap, list of compelling job descriptions and strong career site, your team should have a strategy in place to always be hiring. The record-low unemployment doesn't mean employees aren't continuing to look at jobs. In fact, up to 72 percent of U.S. adults keep their eyes on open roles, no matter their employment status. This means you should always have open roles posted on your career site, even if you don't have an immediate hiring need

Based on your recruitment roadmap, if there are particular roles you know you'll need to fill several times throughout the year -- either due to projected growth or roles with high turnover -- consider keeping these roles open at all times.

Low unemployment means it might take longer than expected to secure the right candidates, so it's best to be proactive about your hiring efforts. And you'll have the chance to capture passive candidates, who track open roles even when they're gainfully employed. If the right candidates come along, you might even end up hiring them sooner than expected, or risk losing them to other job opportunities.

Businesses across industries are struggling to staff up in today's applicant-driven economy, in which teams have more open roles than available job seekers to fill them. By following these tips, you can get ahead with your hiring instead of rushing to fill open roles as they arise.

Published on: Oct 25, 2018