Finding Top Talent in the Job Seeker’s Market

It’s a dog eat dog world out there in the professional career space.  Employers are increasingly finding themselves competing for top talent to staff essential leadership and professional positions.  If you’re a job seeker, the upside is that the ball is in your court and you will often have the ability to pick and choose between numerous companies.  

As a recruiting professional, however, a job seeker’s market can mean that you’re left scrambling to staff openings, sometimes for months at a time.  Add in the tendency for employees to move positions at a more frequent pace, and the situation starts to get untenable. Savvy recruiters need to be able to adapt to lean hiring markets.  This may entail shifting away from traditional approaches to hiring and adopting innovative strategies for identifying and attracting candidates. Here we break down the keys to finding top talent in the job seeker’s market.

1. Identify Transferable Skills

Before you start interviewing candidates with the same title or progression track as the position you’re hiring for, start by preparing a list of essential job skills.  Focus less on individual tasks, assignments or qualifications and list out traits such as managerial ability, attention to detail, ability to prepare budgets or multi-task.  Much of this information can be gleaned from the job description of the position but also feel free to have a conversation with the hiring manager or direct report of the position to pick up on any nuances that may have been missed.

Once you have this list, define what a successful candidate would be able to accomplish in the role.  The individual characteristics combined with long-term goals will help you paint a picture of the ideal professional to fill the vacancy.

The next step is to seek out professionals in related fields or at similar levels of experience but that doesn’t necessarily share the job title you may be hiring for.  This is the essence of the “transferable skills” approach to recruiting. When the market is lean, you can think outside the box and attempt to find someone who has the right strengths to step into the role without previously having held the exact title.

2. Redesign Job Requirements

In a lean job market, you may find yourself struggling with a lack of applicants that exactly meet the requirements of the job.  This can often feel like you’re left trying to fit a square peg into a round hole during the candidate search.

If this scenario sounds familiar, consider modifying the minimum requirements for the position.  Instead of 4 years of relevant experience, reduce the number to 2. Consider adding in recent grads who may be bright and capable of being molded to fit the needs of the position.  Unique requirements such as experience in specific software platforms may be helpful, but ask yourself whether this exact function can be trained quickly for the right person.

If you’re leery of completely removing requirements, consider revising the job description to include preferred qualifications and specifically spell out that while an ideal candidate may possess x certain traits, the right person can certainly be trained in one or more of the areas.  This will encourage additional applicants and can also be a great solution to help conquer the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality within the position and company as a whole.

3. Interview and Network for Competency

Setting your interview and minimum qualification standards for a position around a narrow definition of skills can remind many applicants of those fairway sharpshooter games of luck.  Sure, you may have decent aim and a steady hand, but the whole shebang is rigged against you and you’ll only ever get near the bullseye at best.

To help conquer this unproductive approach, and to attract a greater number of quality candidates, try setting up your interviews around basic competencies.  Instead of asking “have you used x software” try asking about the various software systems they candidate may be familiar with. Often times you will find commonalities that will make cross-training in a new program a breeze.  Similarly, take some time to review your company culture and mission statement. Quiz recruits on their professional experience that may be relevant to these skills, regardless of their individual job title previously.

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself stuck in the recruiting process and unable to locate just the right fit for the position, go back to the drawing board and examine what is working in similar roles within your company.  Think of your current top performers and the individual traits they may possess. Refocus your recruiting process on talent with those individual traits to not only locate a great individual candidate but also someone who is more likely to work well within your existing team.  Remember the old adage “if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it” and go back to what works for your company to help identify talented individuals that could be potential diamonds in the talent pool rough.

Article Updated from the Original on May 2, 2018