As any recruitment professional will tell you, finding and bringing in great talent can be a nightmare. Getting job postings in front of the right eyes, finding sufficiently impressive résumés, and conducting interviews all pose massive challenges, especially when you're trying to fill a vital opening.

At a time when unemployment has dipped as low as 3.8 percent, that struggle can seem insurmountable because the available talent pool continues to shrink. While a low unemployment rate may mean great things for the economy as a whole, it feels like a terrible sign for any company looking to grow its team.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage in a Candidate's Market

The numbers on this are very clear: Unemployment is lower today than it has been for the last 18 years. With the economy recovered from the 2008 recession, new jobs have been steadily on the rise, as April became the 91st consecutive month of job growth (the longest streak ever recorded). Companies in every industry have unfrozen their hiring and opened their doors to new candidates.

With so many businesses needing more workers, candidates have the freedom to pick and choose until they find the best work environment, perks, and schedule for them. And as the competition between businesses rises, the deck is increasingly stacked in favor of candidates.

As in any job market, the key to success is still building a strong team. But how do you do that when competition is so fierce? Here are a few steps to move you in the right direction.


1. Think globally, recruit globally.

The pickings may seem slim stateside, but that doesn't mean the right candidate isn't out there. When the candidate pool is shrinking in your area, put your efforts into welcoming more international talent. Candidates from overseas have both strong résumés and strong work ethics, serving as a comparatively untapped market when the well in the U.S. is starting to run dry.

There are even some cities that are championing efforts to encourage more foreign-born recruitment through their local businesses. The St. Louis Mosaic Project, for instance, partners with companies such as Thomson Reuters, Reinsurance Group of America, and Schnucks to sponsor international talent and help with job seekers' visas. That type of partnership benefits everyone involved: the participating organizations, job candidates, and the city itself.

And recruiting international talent offers more benefits than simply providing a larger pool of candidates for any particular job. Extending the range of diverse voices in your organization can spark innovation, with your entire business achieving greater success as a result.

2. Pony up more perks rather than pay.

There are plenty of employers who think higher salaries will help them win over more job candidates, and they aren't exactly wrong. A full 68 percent of candidates still see compensation as a top consideration when choosing a job. But this can only go so far, as focusing on just pay may mean you'll have to raise prices for your customers, which is one solution creating another problem.

Make sure you treat your employees and job candidates fairly when it comes to compensation, but keep in mind what your bottom line can handle as well. Focusing on perks rather than pay can help you strike that balance. Quality health insurance and 401(k) plans are popular offerings, but so are flexible schedules, work-from-home options, and employee professional development programs.

Start by polling your existing team members to learn what benefits would be most beneficial to them, and use that as an indicator of what might bring new ones into the fold. This should also help bring in candidates with similar values to your current employees.

3. Be willing to teach new skills.

Sometimes, the best candidate fit may not have the specific, niche skill you've been looking for. Especially for companies working on new developments in tech, the pickings are slim when it comes to experienced workers. In these cases, you must be willing to train incoming employees to get them up to speed for the role you need filled. By considering employees who may require some additional training, you open your company up to receiving more applications, which makes it more likely you'll find a good fit for your team.

Companies like Mastercard have also created retraining programs to help existing employees develop the skills necessary for new roles. This approach allows you to fill a more niche position internally, which solves your skills gap problem and opens up a more entry-level position for you to fill. While there is an upfront cost required in bringing employees up to speed in a new area, it actually offsets the exorbitant costs required to entice candidates with previous experience.

Quality employees may seem scarce right now, but there are still ways to create a high-performing team. By expanding your search, improving your offer, and taking up some of the training burden, you can help build the dream team you've been looking for.

Published on: Jul 31, 2018