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Actions to help fill positions in the highly competitive candidate landscape

“We are having so much trouble filling positions – we just can’t get enough candidates.”

“We can’t compete. People are getting drawn away from our jobs before they even start.”

“Our attrition rate has skyrocketed. If feels like everyone is leaving.”

And this begs the question – “why?”

The reasons come pouring in - non-competitive salaries and compensation, lack of awareness or negative perception to the brand, lack of candidate flow, not having a good enough draw against major players in the space, and on and on.

And then the sticky question – “What are you doing about it?”


Most of the time this is when the flood of reasons becomes the flood of excuses. How the larger salaries and better benefits are out of financial reach, how there is already an increased budget on job board advertisements and staffing firms to find candidates, how the executives are set on employees being onsite rather than remote… and on and on.

And sometimes there aren’t even excuses, just the defeated frustration of being helpless.

If only complaining about a problem solved it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

So, we are left with two choices: wait until the situation changes or take action now.

Change comes from action

Not every action will help every organization. Not every action is possible for every organization. But what is absolutely universal is that no action means no change (at least not without waiting for the situation to change).

Start with assessing what potential changes are the best opportunity for your organization. This means selecting actions that:

  1. Address one or more of your organization’s challenges.

  2. Will likely increase your organization’s ability to fill positions.

  3. Are reasonable (i.e. your organization has the necessary budget and resources).

Here are some action options to consider in order to increase your organizations’ ability to fill positions.

Expanding / diversifying at the source

If you don’t have enough candidates applying to your positions, the problem could be a lack of awareness that the job is available (i.e. no one is seeing it). In this case, consider expanding and/or diversify your sources.

Actions include:

  • Increasing your budget with existing sources, especially if they have traditionally been successful. Existing job boards, social media advertisements, staffing agencies, RPOs, etc. With so much competition, it may take a bit more than before to get the same responses.

  • Expanding and diversifying your sources. If the sources you have are no longer working or never worked well in the first place, it’s time to look at other options. There are a large number of organizations and associations helping match jobs and candidates. General and specialty job boards, agencies, community groups, chambers of commerce, educational institutions, social media and in-app advertisements, and advocacy organizations. When shopping for new or additional sources, validate that they will meet your needs for the right price before investing.

Improving job descriptions to engage a wider audience

If you are getting in front of candidates but they are not engaging, the problem could be confusing or unengaging job descriptions (i.e. candidates don’t see themselves in the job). In this case, consider refreshing your job descriptions.

Actions include:

  • Rewrite job descriptions to convey what the candidate wants to know rather than what the hiring team or legal/compliance teams wants to say. Candidates need to know what the job is, why they want it, what it is to be successful, and what it will be like to work at the organization.

  • Remove biasing content. Even with the best intentions, perception can vary widely depending on what’s said and who’s reading it. From the words used to the personality or cultural references flavoring the descriptions, job descriptions could be cutting your candidate pool by inadvertently informing one or more groups ‘you need not apply’.

  • Repackage for format. Even the best job descriptions are not one size fits all. Tailor the message for the format and audience. For example, for an advertisement or email, start with the headline (what and why you want it). For promotion in an advocacy group, emphasis how you meet the needs of that group within the first paragraph of the job description.

Replace screening barriers with opportunities to prove capabilities

If you are getting the candidate flow but not finding the quality you need, the problem could be lurking with unrealistic expectations (i.e. candidates who would be great hires are filtered out). In this case, consider revamping requirements to shift from barriers to opportunities.

  • Refine requirements to focus on true needs. Minimum requirements are a powerful tool to ensure you are spending your time with viable candidates who have the abilities and experiences to be successful at the job. Unfortunately, many requirements are little more than shortcuts or proxies to what is important. For example, consider the common: ‘at least 3 years of experience in…”. Is it really the time in that matters or is it the experiences the candidates may have gotten during that time? In many cases, the requirement is really about the experience, not the years. Refining requirements also opens the door for transferable skills, further increasing the candidate pool.

  • Remove trainable requirements. If it’s a skill you’re going to train anyway or if you have the time and resources to train new employees, remove it from the requirements. This includes system experience, hard skills, certifications and licenses, etc.

  • Replace keyword filters with candidate-centric processes. Keyword filters and fancy matching algorithms (such as those branded AI) rely on the accuracy and completeness of candidate data. Therefore, great candidates that haven’t guessed right on what to include in their resume or if they do not have a robust digital footprint, will be filtered out. Instead replace the filter process with a candidate-driven process (such as our solution) so the candidate, not the tech, identifies if they meet a known set of criteria.

Offer competitive salary & benefits

If you are getting the qualified candidates but they aren’t accepting your jobs, the problem could be less-then-compelling offers (i.e. candidates feel they can do better). In this case, consider changing your offer.

  • Offer competitive salary: This one is obvious and yet often triggers a flurry of excuses. Yes, offering competitive salaries usually means increased cost. But consider the alternative. What is it costing your organization to not have the position filled or to only have access to sub-par talent? What does it cost to have to constantly refill a position because talent only lasts a short time before being drawn away by more money?

  • Offer remote work and flexible hours: Thanks to COVID, remote is in high demand. It doesn’t mean every employee will want to be remote all the time, but the days of 9-5 in the office are over for a lot of professions. Unless you are a power-house employer, don’t fight the trend because the trend will win. Instead, invest in the training and resources so your employees thrive in remote environments. And, if you want a blended or onsite experience, invest on the experiences that will compel employees to come back.

  • Offer compelling packages: If you cannot compete on salary or if salary alone is not enough, consider sweetening the deal in other ways. Stock grants / employee ownership programs, retirement and investment offerings, great benefits, fun and/or unique perks, etc. Communicate all the wonderful things you have to offer and provide the tools candidates need to translate those great perks into value (for example, calculate how much will they stand to gain with that great health plan or stock options).

Additional action ideas:

  • Increasing / improving employer brand through social media campaigns.

  • Increasing / improving employer brand through a career site / about org website refresh.

  • Addressing talent shortage by cultivating future talent (building a future candidate pool).

  • Addressing attrition through diagnosing and fixing diversity / inclusion problems.

  • Addressing attrition by involving the employees gathering and implementing feedback.

Bringing it all together

There is a saying: “when the going gets tough…” but it does not end with “we complain more.”

Yes, the job market is tight, and competition is high for a lot of positions. However, that doesn’t mean we are helpless. There are plenty of actions that can improve talent acquisition processes during this frenzied time – from investing in sourcing to revitalizing employer brand and job descriptions, to removing candidate barriers, to offering and communicating competitive packages.

You can do it, we can help. The anonymous candidate screening solution is designed to replace barriers with opportunities so all candidates have an opportunity to showcase their talents. Our optimized integration with job boards (and ATSs) make every sourcing dollar count, and our reporting keeps organizations well informed of the health and diversity of their candidate funnel. Additionally, by replacing resumes and keywords with candidate-empowered process, organizations create a fair and equitable process that maximize candidate flow.

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