Attract Sought-After Talent in Today's Labor Market

09.17.17

This year has shaped up to be the most competitive talent market our recruiters have seen since we opened our doors in 2000. Many economists have declared the labor market at full employment, or close to it. From the front lines of recruiting, we have never seen job seekers more confident about their employment prospects.  Gone are the days when many candidates were unemployed, willing to compromise compensation requirements and other personal requisites of employment. Today, companies looking to attract senior talent – especially for the most in demand roles – are finding that the job candidate is in the driver’s seat, steering the conversation. 

Here’s our advice for hiring managers navigating present labor conditions:

Free Your Mind

The tightest market conditions require the most open hiring mindset. Back in 2008, employers had the luxury to hold out for candidates who met every bullet point in the job description. Today, these same employers must be willing to consider talent that matches just the most crucial ones. And where in the past only candidates from the company’s industry would be considered, job seekers are finding it easier than ever to move into new business sectors where talent is particularly scarce. A flexible hiring mentality also extends to questions around how, when and where employees work. If the ideal candidate is in another city, relocation doesn’t necessarily have to be the only option – in-demand executives are finding employers willing to consider remote work options or adaptable requirements regarding time spent working on-site.

Put Your Best Offer Forward

Passive candidates are harder to win over than ever – they’re contentedly employed by companies who are increasingly intent not to lose them in the first place. Therefore, new employment propositions must be especially persuasive to leave a ‘known quantity’ work situation. For these candidates, increased money and benefits are just the start of the enticement strategy. Potential employers have to quickly crack the customized combination of clearly defined career pathing, reward and recognition for expertise, a plan for professional development, and perks that are personally meaningful. Signing bonuses are on the rise, as are highly customized benefits packages. In today’s market, top talent is often weighing multiple offers. So, time and again, hiring managers are finding that they have just one shot to get the offer right.

Consider Contractors

With talent in short supply, many employers are increasingly adding specialized, interim executive talent to their talent strategy. To help advance projects and lead mission-critical initiatives, highly-skilled executive contractors support the existing, over-extended team while closing detrimental functional gaps in the organization. Another benefit of this smart approach is that it creates an opportunity to convert a proven, capable freelancer into a road-tested, successful full-time employee. In this scenario, both the interim professional and the hiring company are able to assess one another for functional and cultural fit, at a much lower risk.

Rev Up the Recruiting Process

Surprisingly, some companies continue to operate as if the hiring manager holds all the cards, drawing out the recruiting process. Unfortunately these employers soon find that the candidates that they’re most interested in have accepted timelier offers from fast-moving competitors. Hiring managers should presume that most job seekers are interviewing with multiple organizations today. Therefore, to avoid stressful bidding wars for top talent or losing out on them all together, now is the time for employers to speed their time to hire.

Employers are cautioned to remember that the candidate experience matters more than ever – job seekers make assessments and assumptions about future employers based on how smoothly the wooing process goes, and how valuable they have been made to feel. Is this protracted hiring approach a sign of stodgy, inflexible company? Is there poor communication or an appearance of the inability to make decisions – what does this say about the company culture? Does the experience contradict what the candidate has been told? A slow process can send the wrong signals, dousing the candidate’s enthusiasm for both the employer and opportunity altogether.

Align With a Strategic Talent Management Partner

There perhaps is no better time for companies to benefit from the expertise of an experienced talent management partner than when the job market is so ruthlessly competitive. An external recruiting and staffing company is an employer’s best resource when it comes to in-depth knowledge of who and where the top talent is, what competitive hiring managers are offering job seekers, and what motivates talent to jump ship. When time is of the essence, high-quality recruiters know how to implement a targeted, agile approach to identifying, sourcing and securing the ideal talent for the client’s unique brand. They also bring to bear an extensive professional network that stretches further than where the hiring company’s internal recruiting efforts will ever reach.