4 Tips for Hiring in a Candidate’s Job Market


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There’s no getting around it: this is a candidate’s job market. With low unemployment, rising levels of entrepreneurship, and new ways of thinking about work on the rise, candidates aren’t exactly tripping over themselves to find work.

For one reason or another, the best candidates aren’t likely to be actively looking for work. Maybe they already have a position they’re highly satisfied with. Maybe they’re starting their own businesses. All that really matters to you is that the best candidates aren’t banging on the door to work for you. So how do you get them to do that?

That’s a complex question, and there are no easy answers. But if you want to get the best out of your hiring process, these four tips will help you get on the right track. Talent is the number one differentiator in business, and the path to hiring better talent means clear thinking and serious work. These steps won’t take you all the way there, but they will at least give you some tools for thinking about hiring in a more effective way. The best candidates might not be banging on your door right now, but with strategy and clear thinking they will be. 

  1. Set Clear Hiring Goals that are Integrated with the Company Growth Plan

One of the major problems organizations have with hiring is that they don’t have a clear idea of how the new hires are going to produce value for the company. This is especially true when a company is growing. During high-growth times, hiring needs to be coordinated with the growth of the company. Hire too fast, and new hires will be paid at a loss while the company expands. Hire too slow, and company growth could be stunted by an inability to make good on growing demands.

Especially during high-growth times, it’s important to be able to integrate growth goals with the company growth plan. But this is true of normal times as well. Any organization should know the ROI that’s expected from any given hire. There should be some flexibility here, but the basic requirements for the role should be clearly defined and understood.

We’ll get into more detail about this in the next section, but it’s important to define what a good hire is. Loosely defined or undefined roles lead to bad hires. Bad hires undermine an organization’s ability to perform. That’s why you need to be able to understand how your business plans on growing and how each hire fits into that plan.

  1. Have a Clear Understanding of Who Your Ideal Hire Is

You can’t hire the right person if you don’t know how to recognize the right person. You can’t recognize the right person if you don’t define what you’re looking for. It sounds obvious, but you can’t hit the target unless you have a target to aim at. Many companies never clearly define what they want, and then get surprised when they don’t find it.

The first step in this process is to clearly define the role. We’ve all seen job descriptions that are so convoluted they don’t seem like they were written in English. You want to do the opposite of that. Explain the position in the simplest possible terms. If your five-year-old kid couldn’t understand it, it’s too complicated.

Next, come up with some measurable criteria for hiring. What skills must a candidate have to be able to fill the role? What skills would the ideal hire have, even though you’d be willing to accept less? What personality traits and values does a candidate need to have to fit into the work environment? (And don’t just blow smoke with cultural fit—actually analyze the personalities around the office and find out what type of person would thrive there.)

If you need help defining your ideal hire, you might want to talk to a professional.

  1. Get Help from an Executive Recruiter, if Needed

There are some situations where you pretty much have to talk to a professional. If you’re looking for a highly-qualified candidate, you might have to talk to a recruiter in order to get to those passive candidates. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a picture of your ideal candidate, you might be facing another situation where it’s a good idea to bring in an executive recruiter.

Executive recruiters are more invested in the hiring process than a recruiting agency would be. An executive recruiter gets to know the kind of candidate you’re looking for in detail and makes a commitment to find that candidate. Agency recruiters take on four or five clients in the hopes of landing one hire, but an executive recruiter takes on one client and commits to finding the right candidate.

An executive recruiter is also capable of finding candidates who aren’t necessarily looking for a new job. These passive candidates are often the highest-quality people on the market. These people may be on the executive recruiter’s radar, but no one else’s. So a good recruiter often has access to the best people you can find.

  1. Employer Branding

Employer branding is anything you do to “sell” your company to candidates. Especially in a market where candidates have a lot of choice, it’s important to be able to sell and market your company to candidates, just as effectively as you would sell and market to new customers.

Some organizations think employer branding means making a big deal about how much fun it is to work for your company and going on about how you have a pool table in the lobby. That’s not good employer branding.

Good employer branding means taking the effort to let your best employees let you know what attracted them to your company. It means understanding the perks and benefits that attracted your best employees and doubling down on those. It means finding out where your best employees find out about your organization and establishing a presence in those places.

Pretty much, employer branding means doing all the things you do with marketing, only now you apply them to the hiring process. Good employer branding is a lot of work and effort, but if you want a reliable stream of talent heading your way, there’s no avoiding it in hard times.

About The Author

Jeffrey Audette is the President of VMG Recruiting. With over 25 years of experience in recruiting, Jeff has partnered with small, medium, and Fortune 500 firms, helping them to find the talent they need.

You can learn more at VMGT.com or contact Jeff at jeff@vmgt.com.


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