What To Do When You Can’t Find Good Candidates

Unemployment has been falling steadily over the last couple years. As unemployment decreases, job seekers have more options and employers may find that it is harder to fill openings. Maybe you are getting a lot of resumes, but very few are from qualified candidates. Or maybe you are not getting any resumes at all. What do you do when you cannot find good candidates to fill your current openings? Simply waiting for the right candidate to walk into your office is not enough. Here are some tips for what to do when you cannot seem to find good candidates.

Review the Job Description & Postings

The first step to improving your applicant response is a review of the job description. Does the job description match what you are looking for? Take a moment to list all the qualifications you are looking for in your ideal candidate. Then figure out which skills would be great but are not required. These are the kinds of skills someone could learn on the job. For example, if you are hiring a cashier for a grocery store, good customer service skills would be a requirement. Having someone with grocery store cash register skills would be nice, but it is not a requirement. This is something a person could learn in their first week or two on the job.

Sometimes we get so hung up on what our dream candidate looks like that we create a job description that is so complex that there are very few job seekers who have all the qualifications. Figure out what skills your top performers brought to the job when they were hired, and base your job description on those qualities. Your job posting should also reflect these skills and qualifications. Do not write a long and detailed posting that could scare candidates away. Keep your posting simple and include information about why working for your company is awesome. You can include a link to the full job description for candidates who want more information.

Study the Job Market

Sometimes when we cannot find enough qualified candidates, the problem is competition. Several years ago I was trying to hire cooks for the food service department at a grocery store. Days would go by with no response to my postings. I started noticing signs in restaurants advertising their need for cooks. I went online and searched job posting sites and found that a lot of companies were looking for cooks. There were too many openings and not enough people with the right skills.

When you have an opening for a high-in-demand position, study the competition. What pay and benefits are they offering? Figure out how you can make your job stand out among the crowd. If your pay rate is below what others are offering, it may be time to increase pay or improve benefits in order to attract qualified candidates.

Develop Internal Candidates

Another route for finding qualified candidates for high-in-demand jobs is to develop them from your current staff by providing training programs. Of course it is nice when you can hire someone who comes to you with all the necessary skills, but those candidates are not always out there. Developing internal candidates not only provides a way to fill difficult openings, but it also gives your current employees opportunities for advancement.

For example, suppose you are having a difficult time finding someone to fill an accounts payable assistant opening. People are applying, but they do not have the basic accounting skills required for the job. Stop looking externally, and start focusing on your current staff. Is there an administrative assistant that is particularly good with spreadsheets and numbers? If so, consider sending this person to a class to improve their basic accounting skills. Internal candidates are already invested in your company. Given the opportunity to improve their skills and to be promoted, these employees could end up being better than an external candidate with years of experience.

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How To Convert More Candidates Using Psychology

In today’s hyper-competitive recruitment market, the secret to convincing great talent to apply is often as simple as understanding exactly what they want (and expect) from your company.

Unfortunately, we’re too busy to get to know all candidates personally. So, what do we do? Well how about a secret weapon? Try to convert candidates using psychology.

Developing a basic understanding of the subtleties of the human mind can give you a major headstart in the hiring process. Our brains often react in the same way to certain impulses, so there is plenty of scope for finding creative ways to (ethically) encourage candidates to apply.

Be Honest And Transparent

How far should you show candidates the ‘real you’? Should you try and cover up your company’s shortcomings or should you completely open the kimono?

Nowadays, work is no longer a 9 to 5 deal. It plays a major role in all of our lives, and candidates want to understand what they’re getting themselves into. The want to be sure that they’re going to relate to the environment that they’re going to have to spend 8+ hours a day in.

It’s an exercise in trust. If you lie to applicants about your company then you’re asking for bad reviews on Glassdoor and high turnover rates. Tell them the truth however, and you’re far more likely to end up with committed, motivated employees.

So Does That Mean You Should Show Your Shortcomings?

We’re typically hardwired to cover up our weaknesses, but research from social psychologist Fiona Lee suggests that admitting our shortcomings could actually be a great way to draw attention to our company’s strengths!

How Does This Relate To Hiring?

You’re unlikely to be showcasing your company’s financials to candidates, but being honest about your organisation and the responsibilities that applicants will face in their new role, (even if it’s not all good news), will help inspire trust and confidence in your hiring process.

Break Through Action Paralysis

The way you write your job ads might be more important than you think!

We are beginning to become a little more engaging with the way we write job copy, but there might be a few tricks we can use to make candidates more amenable to clicking ‘apply’ – conversion rates are low because so few people are actually prepared to take action.

Research from Dr Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, has produced some interesting findings here. Cialdini found that minor copy changes make a huge difference to the way we act. He discovered that when minimal paremeters are set, people are far more likely to take action.

How Does This Relate To Hiring?

This study has the potential to dramatically improve the way we ‘sell’ our application process to candidates. Why not break through the standard human aversion to taking action by clearly stating how long your application will take.

We would all be much more inclined to take a ‘simple, 10-minute application’ than one which we have no information on – it’s not rocket science.

Give Candidates Instant Gratification

We live in an ‘on-demand society’ where everything is just the click of a smartphone button away – it’s no wonder that we’re attracted to anything that offers us instant gratification. How do we harness this?

Effective careers page copy should remind candidates of potential rewards at every turn. Words like ‘instant‘, ‘immediately‘ and ‘fast‘ have been proven to fire up our brain and get us excited. They may just be be the most persuasive words you can use so make sure you work them into your job adverts!

Make Sure Your Company Stands For Something

People are becoming increasingly concerned with a company’s core values (and whether they share them). In fact, recent research from CEB suggests that we’re loyal to what a company stands for, not the company itself!

With this in mind, it’s essential that we communicate clearly and regularly with candidates about our values. Make sure they’re easily available on your website, and a key part of your interviewing process.

You shouldn’t think of these tactics as ways to trick candidates into applying. Instead, rationalise them as good ways to make your company stand out a little more. With the recruitment market as competitive as it is nowadays, we all need all the help we can get to separate from competitors and attract top talent. Trying to convert candidates using psychology could give you an edge!

This post originally appeared on the Seed Blog

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Could Employee Appreciation Transform Your Hiring Strategies?

Employee retention is an important business consideration because high turnover rates are costly and often detrimental to overall team performance. However, even with the best retention rates, companies usually need to hire new workers once in a while. Whether they’re expanding or filling the holes left by retirees, leaders seek talented candidates who are excellent fits for the open roles. Anyone who’s been involved in the hiring process can attest to the fact that the whole ordeal can be quite a hassle, often with less than optimal results.

So are you stuck with the traditional routine, even if you’ve had lackluster candidate pools in the past? Perhaps not. The old strategies of posting a job description, sifting through piles of usually unpromising resumes, interviewing select candidates and choosing the best of the bunch might not be the only option. That’s what Zappos is banking on: Rather than relying on people to take interest in a job description and come to them, the company is taking advantage of an engaged, passionate workforce to be recruiting partners.

Hiring: The Zappos way 

According to the Boston Globe, Amazon-owned, Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer Zappos has decided to do away with the traditional job postings in favor of a more personal, relationship-based approach. The company created a new career site and is utilizing social media to showcase its culture and opportunities. Interested candidates can chat with current employees to gain an inside perspective on life within the organization.

The company’s HR manager, Michael Bailen, explained in a blog post on that this change reflects the business’s commitment to focus more on people. To do so, he added, Zappos needed to depart from what he considers a “fundamentally broken process” that constitutes most recruiting approaches.

“Recruiting has become a walking contradiction. We care about the candidate experience, but we spend five to seven seconds looking at a resume. We are dedicated to get back to all candidates in an effort to provide great service, but the vast majority of candidates get a rejection email,” he wrote. “I want our recruiters to build long-term, sustainable relationships with people.”

Building on a foundation of company loyalty

In order for such a people-centric approach to work, Zappos had to create a corporate culture that would be attractive to candidates as well as foster company loyalty among employees to be able to have confidence that they’d participate effectively in the recruiting platform. Zappos created such a culture by focusing on employee appreciation and engagement. By offering rewards — most of which were non-monetary — to recognize and inspire employees, Zappos put its people at the forefront of the company.

By motivating workers based on intrinsic, value-driven incentives, rather than superficial cash or prizes, companies can foster the type of organization that draws top talent because it’s known as an excellent place to work. Additionally, employees become ambassadors for the firm, which is often a more effective form of recruitment since current workers are likely to identify friends and acquaintances who will be well-suited to the realities of the job.

About the Author: As Vice President of Client Strategy for TemboStatus, David Bator works with growing companies every day and helps them bridge the gap between assessing employee engagement and addressing it with action.

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