Recruiting During a Talent War


The U.S. economy grew at a solid 3.2% annual rate in the first three months of the year, a far better outcome than expected, and the United States’ unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.8%, among the lowest in fifty years. The data strongly indicates that employers are seeing a shrinking pool of candidates.

While this is welcome news for job seekers, employers are dealing with increased turnover, higher costs and a scarcity of qualified candidates. Those who are looking for new positions expect competitive wages, robust employee benefits, ongoing training and a clear path to advancement.

Are we in a talent war? Possibly. There are arguments supporting and criticizing the talent war claim. On one side, skilled workers of the Baby Boomer generation are retiring daily and the unemployment rate has hovered around 4% for almost a year. However, overall “real wages” have remained relatively stable. So, to bring it back to basic economics, that lack of wage increases shows that supply and demand aren’t that far from one another.

Either way you argue it, finding your next shining star may be much harder though. So, how do you find the best talent for your open positions when you’re recruiting during a talent war, or at the least, a tight talent market?

Understand the future goal of the position and look for those skills. Often there is subtext beneath each position that is recruited. Quite often the goal is to grow the employee into higher levels or give them more responsibility over time. Hiring an hourly-level position but looking for someone with leadership skills is much different than finding an applicant that is happy running similar processes every day. If you hire for the future goal versus the present need, that will point you towards competencies that will help the employee fit and stay longer.

Nurture special interest groups that make sense for your open roles. Many local communities have developed groups that help others find employment or grow professionally. Key demographic groups to consider may be Veteran programs, accreditation groups, professional associations, graduates or industry-specific groups.

Use technology. Don’t be afraid to market the fact that you’re looking to fill open positions. Depending on what you’re hiring needs are, you can use social campaigns or targeted campaigns to reach your preferred audience. If you have similar roles that are currently filled, research where you found those employees and rework that network.

Make diamonds when you can’t find them. There are more than enough capable, unemployed Americans looking for work. Instead of paying a premium, or if you’re having trouble finding what you want because of a limited talent supply, find a person that wants to learn and will fit well. If you’re willing to search for candidates and look for qualities that aren’t normally on a resume, then invest in training and teaching, you’ll carve out a competitive edge with talent acquisition and retention.

Vet the talent thoroughly and use a consistent process. Many employers remember to process applications and background checks; however, keeping everything consistent across the department and company is usually a struggle. SHRM states that the need to implement consistent hiring processes across an organization is important to avoid potential claims of unlawful discrimination.

Make your decision quickly. In this tight job market, it is crucial not to wait too long. Great talent gets acquired quickly, so don’t wait.

The good news is that once you have done all this hard work, according to Jobvite the conversion rate of offers to hires has increased year-over-year. When companies put out offers, candidates are accepting them nearly 100% of the time because candidates are more educated about the role and the company. Therefore, they’re ready to say yes when an offer is extended.