You know that for your business to grow, you need to hire and build a team that’s passionate about your company’s mission. But how do you find qualified candidates in a candidate-driven market? And what if your position is hard-to-fill?

There’s nothing worse than spending hours crafting the perfect job description for your small business’s vacancy, only to have it spammed by bots or go under the radar on Indeed. Maybe you’ve tried the Linkedin Easy Apply feature, but your job listing was filled with dozens of applicants without the right skillset.

In this article, we hope to remedy that frustration with this bit of advice: instead of wasting time and money posting on public job boards, it might be time for your business to recruit candidates who are already employed.

Below, we share our secrets to filling hard-to-fill roles quickly and effectively using a passive recruitment strategy. But first, let’s talk about those hard-to-fill positions that are costing you time, money, and energy sitting open.

Why are some positions hard to fill?

There can be several reasons why your position might be hard-to-fill, including:

  • A highly specialized and specific skill set: A position might be hard-to-fill if you’re looking for someone with a rare skill set, like certain tools and software. It may include electricians, front end developers, and software engineers. Some industries, like the tech and health industry have more openings than skilled workers available to fill them.
  • Geographic limitations: If your business is in a small town, odds are you’re fishing for a product manager in a small pond. Even if the role doesn’t require a specialized skill set, a town with a population of 150,000 people won’t have as many options to choose from.
  • Difficulty offering a competitive salary: A medium-sized construction business might not have the capital to offer an experienced construction manager a competitive salary. Candidates will look elsewhere if they feel they won’t be adequately compensated for their time and efforts.
  • Desire for remote or hybrid work: If you’re hoping to fill a role that isn’t remote or hybrid, it’s going to be more challenging. Many candidates prioritize the flexibility of remote and hybrid work to the point that it’s a non-negotiable for them in considering making a change.

How to source passive, employed candidates for fill hard-to-fill positions

According to a report by LinkedIn, 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent, and the remaining 30% are actively looking for work. Don’t wait for applicants to respond to a job ad. Instead, expand your search to passive candidates who fit your desired qualifications:

Source qualified candidates by using search tools to find candidates with similar jobs working at similar companies.

With LinkedIn Boolean search, you can use a combination of keywords to find qualified candidates in the position, industry, and city you’re looking for. You can even narrow it down to candidates from specific schools and companies, and combine qualifiers in various ways.

As an example, (Head OR Chief OR Director) AND (Accounting OR Finance) NOT (Intern OR Assistant OR Teller OR Bookkeeper) should show results for controllers, directors of finance, and CFOs.

Engage your offline network (and beyond).

First, you can being to build your own network. Meet potential candidates at events they’re likely to attend within their industries or interests, connect to former colleagues, classmates, or other connections on LinkedIn. And make sure to keep connections warm with frequent updates. Of course, we always encourage clients to cast a wider net beyond their own networks in order to attract top talent. We wrote an entire article with tips to go beyond your own network here.

Use an employee referral program.

One of the most effective ways to find qualified candidates is by tapping into your employees’ networks. Ask your employees to tell their friends and colleagues about job openings, and reward them for their referrals. This works for two reasons: your employees connect with other people like them. People are likely to be interested in a position when referred by someone they have a rapport with. 

How to communicate with employed candidates to encourage them to respond

Glasdoor revealed that 92% of employees are open to changing jobs if the company has a good reputation. After you’ve found qualified candidates, here’s how you can boost the likelihood that they will respond positively to your outreach. (Remember, these candidates have full-time jobs. They’re busy and likely not actively looking for work.)

Be concise, clear, and direct.

Your first message is your elevator pitch to the candidate. Focus on what’s in it for them and get to the point. To really make an impression, look at what their current company is failing to provide, and offer that. A shorter work week? Mentorship opportunities? Remote work? You don’t need to offer a Fortune 500 salary if you can provide other perks and rewarding work.

Reach out to candidates multiple times in multiple ways to receive a response.

These are busy people who are not currently considering other opportunities. Often, it will take a lot more than sliding into the Linkedin inMail of a Director of HR once for you to catch her attention. Our team follows up seven or eight times using different means, such as email, a phone call, a text, or Twitter.

Market your employer brand and culture to the candidate.

A senior software engineer at Duolingo expressed how fulfilled he felt knowing that his contribution directly affected the app’s language learners. He also recounted when Duolingo’s CEO publicly praised the software engineers team to their 600+ employees. Tell stories like these about your employees on your social platforms.

Unless you’re Apple or Amazon, odds are most people do not know much about your company or what it would be like working for you. Share your core values and company mission. And be clear about the job and expectations. The candidate needs to know their responsibilities and the expectations you have for your employees upfront, so honesty is key.

Risch Results can help you find qualified candidates in a tight market

At Risch Results, where we have a 95% fill rate, we do all of the above for our clients and more! We use custom searches for each role and sell their company to the best candidates available.

Once candidates are interested, we use behavioral assessments to ensure that, in addition to having the right skillset, the candidates are also a culture fit.

Then, we provide our clients with a comprehensive summary of the best candidates. Leave building a diverse, talented team to us. Get in touch with us today to see how we can find you your next great hire.

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