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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