HomeTalent AcquisitionApproaches to attract talent for challenging vacancies

Approaches to attract talent for challenging vacancies

  • 7 Min Read

New research from the CIPD says 38% of employers are currently grappling with hard-to-fill vacancies

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Finding and securing qualified candidates for specialised positions has become an increasingly daunting challenge for HR teams and talent acquisition professionals.

According to recent research from the CIPD, a staggering 38% of employers are currently grappling with hard-to-fill vacancies, with the public sector facing an even more pronounced skills shortage at 51%.

As the competition for top talent intensifies, savvy organizations must go beyond traditional recruitment tactics and adopt a more strategic, multi-faceted approach to attract the right candidates for their most critical roles.

From leveraging niche job boards to tapping into passive talent pools, the solutions to this pressing issue require a keen understanding of the unique obstacles faced when hiring for hard-to-fill positions.

Defining the Hard-to-Fill Dilemma

What exactly makes a position “hard-to-fill”? The reasons can vary, but often stem from a combination of factors:

Specialized Skill Requirements

Certain roles, particularly in highly technical or specialized fields, demand a very specific set of skills, qualifications, and industry experience that can be challenging to find in the broader talent market. Think data scientists, cybersecurity experts, or niche engineering positions.

Undesirable Locations

The physical location of the job, whether it’s a remote role or in an area with limited appeal, can deter potential applicants and make recruitment more difficult.

Lack of Competitive Compensation

When salaries or benefits packages fail to keep pace with market rates, qualified candidates may be less inclined to apply or accept offers.

Overly Restrictive Job Descriptions

Job postings that are too narrowly defined or, conversely, too broad in scope can inadvertently discourage otherwise suitable applicants from pursuing the opportunity.

Shrinking Talent Pools

In certain industries or regions, the simple lack of available candidates with the necessary skills and experience can create a significant hiring bottleneck.

Overcoming these hurdles requires a strategic, multifaceted approach to recruitment that goes beyond posting job ads and hoping for the best. Let’s explore some proven strategies that can help organizations attract and secure top talent for their hard-to-fill vacancies.

Leveraging Niche Recruitment Channels

When dealing with specialized roles, traditional job boards and generic career sites may not be the most effective way to reach your target audience. Instead, consider focusing your efforts on niche platforms, online communities, and industry-specific channels that are more likely to attract candidates with the right qualifications and experience.

Advertising on niche platforms, such as targeted job boards, online communities, and trade journals, can help you reach potential candidates with the specialized skills and industry knowledge your hard-to-fill positions require.

This targeted approach allows you to showcase your employer brand and the unique benefits of the role to a more relevant and engaged pool of job seekers. Be sure to include details about the position’s responsibilities, required qualifications, and competitive compensation to make your job postings as compelling as possible.

Tapping into Passive Talent Pools

In today’s tight labor market, the most qualified candidates for your hard-to-fill roles may not be actively searching for new opportunities. By focusing your recruitment efforts on passive job seekers – those who are currently employed but open to considering a career move – you can access a much larger and often higher-caliber talent pool.

Leverage your professional network, industry associations, and social media platforms like LinkedIn to identify and connect with potential candidates who possess the skills and experience you’re seeking.

Craft personalized outreach messages that highlight the unique value proposition of your organization and the role, and be prepared to offer a compelling compensation package and growth opportunities to pique their interest.

Fostering Internal Mobility

Sometimes, the perfect candidate for a hard-to-fill position may be closer than you think – within your own organization. By encouraging internal mobility and providing opportunities for existing employees to upskill and take on new challenges, you can tap into a valuable talent pool that is already familiar with your company culture, processes, and mission.

Consider hiring internally for hard-to-fill positions. Internal candidates offer benefits like existing knowledge of the company and reduced onboarding time, which can save you time and money compared to an external search.

Invest in robust training and development programs, mentorship initiatives, and clear career progression pathways to empower your employees and demonstrate your commitment to their growth. This not only helps you fill critical roles, but also boosts employee engagement, retention, and overall organizational agility.

Optimizing the Hiring Process

When recruiting for specialized positions, the hiring process itself can sometimes become a barrier to attracting top talent. Streamlining and optimizing your recruitment workflows can help you move quickly and efficiently to secure the best candidates before they accept offers elsewhere.

Review your current hiring practices and identify any bottlenecks or inefficiencies that may be deterring qualified applicants. Implement strategies like:

  • Streamlining the application process to reduce the time and effort required from candidates
  • Automating administrative tasks like scheduling interviews and sending status updates
  • Empowering hiring managers to make timely decisions and extend offers swiftly
  • Providing a positive, informative, and engaging candidate experience throughout the process

By creating a seamless, candidate-centric hiring journey, you can differentiate your organization and demonstrate your commitment to finding and retaining the best talent.

Leveraging Employer Branding

In today’s highly competitive talent landscape, a strong employer brand can be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top candidates, especially for hard-to-fill roles. By proactively shaping perceptions of your organization as an employer of choice, you can make your company more appealing to prospective candidates and stand out from the competition.

Invest in building a robust employer brand strategy that encompasses elements like:

  • A user-friendly, informative careers website that highlights your company culture, values, and employee benefits
  • Engaging social media content that showcases your employer brand and employee experiences
  • Thought leadership content (e.g., blog posts, webinars) that positions your organization as an industry authority
  • Employee advocacy programs that empower your workforce to become brand ambassadors

By crafting a compelling and consistent employer brand narrative, you can effectively communicate the unique value proposition of working for your organization and capture the attention of top talent in your industry.

Partnering with Specialized Recruiters

For particularly niche or hard-to-fill roles, consider partnering with specialized recruitment agencies or head-hunters who have deep expertise in your industry and access to vast talent networks. These professionals can leverage their extensive industry connections, market insights, and sourcing capabilities to identify and vet candidates that may be difficult for your in-house team to reach.

Specialized recruiters have experience finding and hiring candidates for specific roles or industries. They can provide valuable assistance in overcoming hiring challenges, particularly in fields with high demand for skilled talent.

When selecting a recruitment partner, look for firms with a proven track record of success in your industry, strong candidate vetting processes, and a commitment to delivering a positive experience for both clients and candidates.

Optimizing Employee Referrals

Your current employees can be a valuable asset in your efforts to fill hard-to-fill positions. By implementing an effective employee referral program, you can tap into your workforce’s personal and professional networks to uncover qualified candidates who may not be actively searching for new opportunities.

Incentivize your employees to refer their connections by offering attractive rewards, such as cash bonuses, extra paid time off, or charitable donations. Ensure that your program is well-communicated, easy to use, and provides clear guidelines on the referral process and eligibility criteria.

Employee referrals can be a powerful way to find candidates for hard-to-fill roles. Your current employees understand the job requirements and can make high-quality recommendations from their personal and professional networks.

Not only do employee referrals help you access a wider talent pool, but they also tend to result in higher-quality hires who are more likely to be a strong cultural fit and remain with your organization long-term.

Fostering Partnerships with Educational Institutions

For entry-level or junior-level hard-to-fill positions, consider building relationships with local colleges, universities, and vocational schools. These educational institutions can serve as valuable talent pipelines, providing you with access to a pool of highly motivated, skilled, and trainable candidates.

Participate in university campus career fairs, host on-site information sessions, and collaborate with faculty to develop internship or co-op programs that allow you to identify and nurture promising young talent.

By investing in these partnerships, you can not only fill your current hard-to-fill vacancies, but also build a sustainable pipeline of future hires.

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