Human Resources News & Insights

Attracting great applicants when qualified people are scarce

More than three in four employers say they’re struggling to find qualified people to fill their open positions.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas recently conducted a survey of 100 human resources executives in a variety of industries nationwide. The bottom line: 77% of respondents said they were having trouble filling open slots because the applicants they were seeing didn’t have the right backgrounds.

The toughest slots to fill? Here’s a rundown:

  • Technology/technical — cited by 45% of respondents
  • Finance — 30%
  • Manufacturing — 20%, and
  • Management — 5%.

About half of survey participants said their companies are not yet offering any special incentives to attract candidates. Other firms are using referral bonuses (36%), relocation assistance (36%) and signing bonuses (23%).

Finally, the most chilling finding in the research: 91% of respondents said that as the economy continues to expand, the labor shortages will become even more acute.

The old recruiting channels just aren’t working

Clearly, in an era when good people are difficult to find, it’s important to take steps to draw the best talent into your candidate pool.

Jerome Ternyck, writing on, says many companies unwittingly cripple their recruiting efforts by using outdated and unsophisticated tools: spreadsheets, email and applicant tracking systems (ATS).

Here’s Ternyck’s three-step prescription for modernizing your digital recruiting efforts:

1. Sourcing: Do you have a wide choice of candidates?

Candidates are not just searching job boards and your company’s careers page anymore. They’re also visiting your company’s social media pages, interacting in your social networks, your colleagues’ social networks, recruiters’ networks–and they’re wanting to engage over the web and mobile. You need to have a presence whenever the talented candidate wants to say, “Hello.”

2. Engaging: How do you keep great candidates in your pipeline?

Once you’ve captured great candidates, you have to woo them. We now live in a transparent world. Candidates know as much about your company as you do. Build a strong and attractive employer brand across every touch point, including your company’s culture page, social media pages and blog. Equally important: make it dead simple to apply. It should take one click. Any more complexity than that will have you losing great candidates in no time.

3. Closing: You have two weeks to close top talent

That’s it. If you’re recruiting process takes longer than that, you’ll lose the best candidates. In the first week, you should do pre-screenings and initial interviews. The next week is for the second round of interviews and assessments by the hiring team–and that should comprise four members to be exact. Hiring is a team sport. Each hiring manager asks different questions and digs into topics that another might not. Four viewpoints together provide a more accurate assessment of a candidate.

By the end of the week, make your offer. Herein lies the crux of the new world of recruiting and hiring: you have to do all of these steps –write a killer job ad, cast a wide net, engage deeply with candidates and collaborate to interview, assess and make a decision–all within two weeks. That’s what it takes to drive your hiring process from good to great.


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  1. NJHRLawyer says:

    I keep hearing this, yet when you look at the job postings on Monster or Career Builder they are looking for 10 plus years of experience and advanced certifications or degrees, will only consider someone who is currently employed and they only want to pay $50,000 per year for jobs that they could fill all day at $75,000 per year. No one is going to go through the hassle of changing jobs if they are not going to get more money or better benefits. If companies want to pay 2/3s of the going rate for a job then they either need to be willing to hire someone who is unemployed or gasp shock horror hire someone with limited experience and train them. Employers got spoiled during the last recession and seem to be unwilling to admit that as the economy picks up if they want top talent they are either going to have to pay for it or develop people internally.

    • Maggie Mentel says:

      You are right. Many jobs would be filled by very qualified candidates if companies would pay what the job is worth. I can’t believe how cheap they’ve gotten. If you don’t want to pay the price of a qualified candidate, then train someone on your staff to do the job. Just remember, once that person is trained, you still have to pay them the going rate or you have just trained them for some else. Companies should quit complaining about the lack of candidates. Change your expectations for low pay and over-qualified candidates, and you may be surprised by all the good people out there.

    • I hate to say it but here goes…and we wonder why the economy is in such bad shape. People are so underpaid they don’t have enough money to spend to keep it going. I realize that a lot of people are still using credit to maintain their standard of living but that will eventually run out and has for a lot of people not being able to keep up with their payments. With that said, if people got paid what they are actually worth, they would be spending their own money and not relying on credit to get that new washer and dryer they need. Now with that said and I’m not advocating for Unionism here, but the reality is that we need the kind of good paying jobs that existed in this country when Union membership was at it’s peak to get this economy going again. Until then, we aint goin nowhere! Again not advocating for organizing but I am for the pay that went along with it. This economy will never rebound when there is such a huge disparity between the wealthiest and your average citizen- when CEO pay is 500 times what the average employee’s is.

  2. Ideas please —-
    What do you do when you NEED these experienced/certified positioned filled and the ava candidates know it and hold out for way too much money –

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