How to attract the best talent in a candidate-short market

How to attract the best talent in a candidate-short market

February 16, 2022

handshake candidate interview

During the pandemic, the working world came to a grinding halt. Between August and November 2020, roughly nine million employees were depending on the government furlough scheme for their income.

However, the world of work is now gradually easing back into some semblance of pre-pandemic normality. We breathe a collective sigh of relief upon hearing the latest government announcement that all remaining coronavirus restrictions could end as early as this month.

The job market is bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels and beyond, as demand for new hires across the board is sky-rocketing to all-time highs. The market is brimming with opportunities, bubbling away to the point of overflowing.

There’s just one problem. As businesses confidently sprint towards the finish line of the pandemic, one major stumbling block stops them in their tracks: many jobs to fill, not enough candidates to fill them.

In the fallout of the pandemic, companies are being confronted with the challenge of a candidate-short market. The dramatic increase in demand for new hires is not matched by a supply of highly-skilled candidates. Roughly 1.5 million employees across the country remain on furlough, less EU candidates are available for employment as a consequence of Brexit and coronavirus restrictions, and the best candidates are snatched up by big corporates in a heartbeat.

This candidate shortage has led to many companies struggling to hire, especially those looking for highly-skilled candidates in niche fields. A Telegraph survey found that recruitment posed a significant challenge to a third of more than 1,000 business people.

So, what’s the solution to this conundrum? What methods should companies be adopting in order to hire and retain staff? Read on to find out.

Sell yourself

In a candidate-short market, the scales are tipped in the candidate’s favour. Top talent is in high demand, and in order to stand out against competitor companies, hiring managers need to craft an attractive offering.

It goes without saying that a competitive salary is likely to appeal to candidates from the outset. However, it would be wrong to presume that high quality candidates are simply drawn to the highest bidder. The reality is, if you really want to lure candidates in, you need to be furnishing an offer with attractive benefits that extend beyond a competitive salary.

By the time you make an offer, the power is in the candidate’s hands. Nowadays, candidates tend to have an established set of expectations from their prospective employer. These may include: more annual leave, flexible working, a healthy work-life balance, interesting and engaging work, professional development and learning opportunities, or training programmes.

women talking at desk

Clients should not underestimate the power of an attractive benefits package; it could be the deciding factor that swings the pendulum in your company’s favour. If you think you’re going to win candidates over with beers on a Friday afternoon and a monthly team social, think again.

In today’s climate, companies also need to cultivate a strong personal brand. To stand out to candidates in a sea of other prospective companies, you need to craft a detailed and up-to-date EVP (employer value proposition), showcasing exactly what your company brings to the table and what makes you stand out from the crowd.

A powerful EVP is a major selling point; 51% of people would actually be willing to accept an offer at a lower wage if the company had strong employer branding.

A great way of showcasing your company’s EVP is through social media. Make the most out of your candidate-facing platforms by posting employee testimonials, company culture insights and case studies. Give your candidates a taster of life at your company that’ll leave them wanting more.

Revamp the hiring process

In order to present your company in the best possible light, create a positive first impression by making the hiring process a constructive and worthwhile experience for all parties involved. Nowadays, it’s all too common for job ads to read like fatal warning signs, cautioning you not to trespass further. They paint the hiring process as an arduous, never-ending challenge, in an attempt to scare off the ‘weakest links’ and initiate prospective employees through a baptism of fire.

This is an outdated and close-minded approach. At many companies, the hiring process is nothing more than a tick-box exercise in its early stages; great candidates are slashed from the list by hiring managers simply because they may not have the exact skillset or amount of experience required.

To attract the best talent in a candidate-short market, hiring managers should be more open-minded to candidates who may not match their desired profile exactly. They may be missing out on candidates with huge amounts of potential. Studies have shown that experience is actually the least reliable indicator of future success. So, instead of focussing on the number of years someone has been working in a particular industry, why not consider their potential instead?

handshake interview candidate

If you really want to hire top talent in a candidate-short market, build a relationship with prospective candidates from the outset. Don’t treat candidates in a hostile way during the hiring process. Is your company’s hiring process engaging and personal? Concise and simple?

Don’t view the hiring process as a means of weeding out unsuitable candidates; view it as an ongoing conversation, an opportunity for both hiring manager and candidate to learn more about each other. Imagine it as a dating experience: you’re in the courting stage, but they’re probably still seeing other people. Use this time as a chance to woo and romance them. Put them at ease so you can truly get to know them.

Cut down on unnecessary steps in the process, making it less clunky and more efficient. This will be a positive for you as much as for the candidate; you’ll be bringing out the very best in people, and making the process more streamlined. Instead of rejecting candidates at the first hurdle who may not match your expected criteria point-for-point, look beyond strict expectations, and go into the process feeling more open-minded. You’ll be more receptive to talented individuals even if they may not fit the mould exactly, and you’ll be making a better first impression on all prospective candidates.

Don’t dilly-dally

A crucial part of an efficient hiring process is keeping communication prompt and consistent throughout. In a candidate-short market, you need to act fast. Not only is circling back a way of showing respect to prospective candidates, it’s also a way of remaining at the forefront of their mind so they don’t get snatched up by a competitor company.

If a talented candidate seems interested in a role at your company, don’t dilly-dally. Start forming a bond with them from the get-go, keeping them engaged. Throughout the hiring process, keep them in the loop regarding the status of their application.

hourglass time running out

And if you’d like to make an offer, don’t beat around the bush. Candidates are most likely courting other companies as well as your own, so make an offer to get ahead of the competition, and strike while the iron is hot.

Even if a great candidate happens to be unsuccessful this time around, maintain a relationship with them by communicating and giving them feedback. A role may crop up in the future that they could be perfect for. People are four times more likely to consider a company for future job opportunities if they received feedback from them during the hiring process.

Enlist a recruiter

At a time when quality candidates are in high demand, putting a job ad out into the abyss and hoping for the best is not the most effective means of attracting talent in a candidate-short market. Meanwhile, actively sourcing candidates is incredibly time-consuming, something that many hiring managers simply do not have the resources to do.

In which case. why not enlist a recruitment agency to help you attract the best talent out there? Recruiters have databases brimming with talented individuals. If you’re time-poor, using a recruiter’s candidate pool is a highly efficient method of alerting top talent to opportunities at your company. Tap into this resource in order to engage the best candidates on the market.

If you’re interest in attracting the best talent in the data, insight, or strategy sector. get in touch with the Nicholson Glover team via email:


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