Even before the pandemic turned our economy upside down, experts pointed to a concerning rise in labor shortages. From home health care specialists and construction workers to food service staff and CDL truck drivers, today, hard to fill positions run the gamut of industries and often include many of the mission-critical “in-person” roles within an organization such as warehouse staff, custodial staff, front end staff and any position that can’t be filled with remote workers.
As an employer or recruiter, your top mission is to fill every open position with the best talent you can find. In a candidate-driven market, this can be a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be. Recruiting for hard to fill positions requires a fresh approach, a realistic budget, an updated strategy, and a dedicated team. Read on to learn about the qualities that can make a position hard to fill, as well as our top strategies for hiring hard-to-fill positions.
The Evolution of Hard to Fill Positions
In the past, the term “hard to fill” was often used to describe any position that was specialized or technical. However, in today’s reality, the term covers any job category where there is more demand than supply. There can be several indicators of a position being hard to fill, but a primary indicator is a low number or complete lack of qualified applicants. If you’re struggling with hard-to-fill positions, you’re not alone, but there are ways to overcome the challenge.
You’ll Need a Strategy
When you have a hard-to-fill position there is no time for the “post and pray” method of recruiting. Your strategy should combine traditional recruiting techniques, such as job posting, with more modern approaches, like recruitment marketing and referral programs. You’ll also need to include a realistic budget for recruitment marketing, referral bonuses, and any additional software or tools that may be needed such as an ATS or a hiring partner like Work4.
When you create your strategy, the devil is in the details, so your recruitment strategy will need to include some research and data. To begin, you’ll want to select the recruitment marketing platforms that are most likely to put you in front of your key audience. You’ll also want to ensure that you have the right tracking and assessment tools such as the above-mentioned ATS, or CRM in place so that campaigns can be pivoted quickly if they are not producing results. From there, craft a strategic recruitment plan.
Assess Your Job Description
When it comes to putting your hard-to-fill job in front of your desired audience, the first step to catching their attention is crafting an accurate and compelling job description. If the job you are recruiting for involves competing with other companies for top candidates, an outdated job description isn’t going to cut it. Start with a thorough analysis of the job itself including some competitive research into what other companies are posting for similar positions.
To ensure that those top candidates don’t scroll right past your job listing, use positive language that highlights the signature benefits and rewards of working for your company. Instead of a laundry list of skills and experience qualifications required, take this opportunity to sell candidates on your organization and let them know why they need to work for you vs the competition. Obviously, the specific requirements for a given role are essential but don’t forget the company perks, career advancement opportunities, social responsibility initiatives, and challenging projects that make your company unique.
Another key factor here is to add your salary offering in the title whenever possible, particularly if it is higher than average. You can also get creative in this area particularly if you are in an industry such as hospitality or restaurant where tips make up a position of the salary. For instance, if you offer minimum wage plus tips and the average server makes an additional $5 per hour with tips added in “up to $20 per hour” is more appealing than “$15 per hour plus tips.”
Some of the most difficult roles to fill are new or newly emerging roles within a company. For these roles, it’s time to get personal and look within particularly if a new role is one where industry or company-specific knowledge is key. Oftentimes, upskilling a qualified internal candidate can be a quicker, more cost-effective, and more efficient route to filling those hard-to-fill positions.
If you haven’t been working to encourage cross-functional training and internal mobility, this could be a great time to start. Consider setting up internal sites where existing staff can learn about opportunities within the company departments other than their own. Additionally, provide employees with access to information and mentoring to make career mapping easier. When you build cross-training and mentoring initiatives into your company culture, you can not only help to reduce turnover and attrition but also increase employee engagement and reduce your hard to fill challenges. In a recent staffing survey, 43% of recruiting professionals polled cited upskilling and reskilling as a top challenges to focus on in 2022.
Build Your Social Media Presence
The latest figures from Statista show that there are expected to be 3.96 billion social media users worldwide in 2022—a 4.8 percent increase from a year ago. Social media is an ever-present feature in the lives of almost everyone these days, and it’s used not only for entertainment, and staying connected but also in job searching. In our own recent survey, we found that job seeker polled were 4 times more likely to search for a job on social media than on a company career site.
The strategy for social media recruiting should be somewhat similar to your other social media marketing, after all, in today’s world, if you’re hiring, you’re selling. Or at least you should be. Your goal in social media recruiting is to show prospective candidates what it is like to work for your organization and promote your company as the destination candidates want to be. Showing prospects what makes your company a great place to work through content is an amazing recruiting strategy for hard-to-fill positions.
Encourage Employee Referrals
Employee referrals are one of the most powerful sources of top-quality candidates, they are typically of a higher quality, close quicker, and less likely to turnover.
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Employee referrals are a great resource for hard-to-fill jobs, especially when you need to fill a position quickly. With hard-to-fill roles, turning your existing staff into part of your recruiting team can give your efforts a boost by bringing in quality candidates that will already be abreast of your culture.
Break Down Bottlenecks
In today’s culture of instant access where people have become accustomed to one-click ordering, the job market is the same as any other marketplace. According to LinkedIn, 60% of job seekers will abandon an application if it is too long or complex. Analyze your hiring process to determine how you can eliminate friction, break down bottlenecks and make it easier for someone to join your team. At Work4 we have a tool that uses text messaging to automate candidate nurturing with features that encourage candidates to apply to open positions on your website or ATS with ease and can help to significantly reduce time to fill.
Analyze, Tweak, Persist
While strategic planning and social media branding can help you source talent for hard-to-fill roles, there’s no substitute for continuous improvement. Stay on top of recruiting trends, monitor your process regularly for bottlenecks, and be prepared to modify your strategy as needed. For hard-to-fill positions, your recruitment team will need to call, connect, communicate and recruit relentlessly. Dig into your talent pipelines, from every angle and remember that networking skills and exceptional effort are essential to your teams’ success in filling these positions.
Build Your Talent Team Like a Pro
In parting, while it would be great to have a secret recipe for filling the toughest jobs, it’s unfortunately not that simple. There are no quick tricks or easy fixes to filling your hard-to-fill positions. That said, by diving deeper into your hiring processes to create a winning recruitment strategy and combining it with a little persistence, you’ll find that the journey may not be as tough as you expected. The talent pool may be shrinking, but that doesn’t mean hard-to-fill roles have to be impossible to fill. In the talent acquisition game, things are never business as usual. It’s critical to stay ahead of the trends in order to be successful, especially when it comes to hard-to-fill positions.
Over the last 12 years, Work4 has connected thousands of employees with top companies.
Since 2010, our one-of-a-kind recruitment marketing technology and people-first initiative have kept our business and our partners successful. For assistance with filling your open positions, talk with our team of experts today.