In an ideal world, the perfect candidate would always be easy to find. However, in the current tight labor market, that simply isn’t the case. Today, 50% of hiring managers have at least one position open they can’t find a qualified candidate for. There are an estimated 7.2 million job openings nationwide, and there simply aren’t enough job seekers available to fill them.

When you are striving to find candidates for a hard-to-fill position, the situation can seem dire. For example, the unemployment rate for tech professionals is a meager 1.3%, and skill gaps are especially pervasive, especially when it comes to emerging or expanding technology specialties like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and blockchain.

Recruiting for hard-to-fill jobs requires patience and diligence. However, you can increase the effectiveness of your efforts by embracing lesser-used techniques. If you want to find right-fit candidates quickly, here are some tips.

Adjust Your Focus When Evaluating Candidates

When working to fill a position, recruiters typically refer to a traditional “must-have” list that outlines what an ideal candidate looks like. Along with critical skills, requirements often include details like a specific amount of experience or a certain educational minimum. In years past, a lengthy list of must-haves might not have been an issue; however, in today’s climate, they often cause recruiters to overlook undervalued talent.

Instead of relying on a massive requirements list, adjust your focus to find capable professionals who might be flying below the radar. Concentrate on locating the skills that are genuinely needed from day one, and make proficiency (not a specific number of years) the defining factor regarding who is qualified.

Additionally, don’t discount candidates who used a non-traditional path to acquire their skills. For example, if you are working on a hard-to-fill tech job, candidates without college degrees may still be highly skilled. Professionals may have gained their expertise on the job, through boot camps or with self-directed learning and side projects, all of which are viable and valuable alternatives to formal higher education.

Leverage Your Network for Referrals

Hiring managers are commonly told to embrace employee referral programs to assist them with talent acquisition. The same principle can also benefit recruiters, particularly those that have strong relationships with candidates who are part of their network.

If a recruiter doesn’t have a connection to a qualified job seeker but is well connected with others who are in similar roles or fields, reaching out and requesting referrals can be an excellent option. Not only might the recruiter find an ideal match, they can also expand their network during the process, bolstering their talent pipeline and engaging with others who may be qualified for other hard-to-fill jobs.

Turn References Into Candidates

When evaluating a candidate, it is common to request a list of references. Eight out of 10 recruiters contact references as part of the screening process, so job seekers will provide contact details when pursuing new opportunities.

As you speak with each reference, consider learning about the applicant’s career goals and aspirations. If they may be interested in a job change in the future, inquire about their skills and experience. By doing so, you can effectively expand your network, increase the breadth of your talent pool, and possibly find a candidate for a current or future hard-to-fill opening.

Take a Deep Dive Into Niche Platforms

Niche platforms are often beacons to professionals focused on those areas and could be a resource when you need to find viable candidates.

For example, if you are working to find professionals for hard-to-fill developer roles, sites like Stack Exchange and GitHub are worth exploring. Many developers (including pros and hobbyists) participate on boards focused on open source technologies, so any site that supports those conversations could become a resource.

Ultimately, all the tips above can assist recruiters who are working to locate candidates for hard-to-fill positions. If you would like to learn more about candidate sourcing, the team at Cloutera can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today and see how our recruitment expertise can benefit you.

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