5 strategies for attracting candidates in a competitive job market
How many times have you heard lately that it’s a candidate’s market? Trying to find the right person for the job has become an even greater challenge over the past couple of years, with competition for the best candidates increasingly strong.

In June, job ads were 35% higher than the same time in 2019, while applications per ad continue to fall.

So how do you stand out and attract the right people in these conditions?

Of course, there are the fundamentals of creating a great job ad, and ensuring an efficient hiring process. But basics aside, thinking outside the box could help you better attract candidates and make your business stand out as a great place to work.

Here are five strategies to help you find the best people in a competitive job market.

1. Don’t talk about the job

It might sound strange, but it’s a mistake to focus on selling the role, explains Michael Berger, director of Talent Blueprint.

“The most important thing is to understand the person behind the candidate, what gets them out of bed and where they would like to take their career” he says, “Only then can you truly get them interested in the oppportunity at hand, or discuss future propects.”

2. Inspire your candidates

With so many jobs to choose from, it’s important to stand out from the pack. One way to do this is to offer something unique and desirable, says Viv Farrington, director of boutique recruitment firm Muse Digital.

“It might be the mission itself, a mentor, flexible working arrangements or some other perk,” she says.

It’s also helpful to bring your heavy hitters into the hiring process early, says Ms Farrington. “Involve one of your passionate, energetic and inspirational leaders throughout the entire candidate’s journey,” she says. “Someone who can sell the company vision and inspire them.

In a candidate-driven market, many candidates are weighing up multiple roles at once. The interview is an opportunity to wow the candidate as much as it is about assessing their suitability. Don’t lose your dream candidate over a poor performance.”

3. Give the people what they want

It’s hard to ignore the classic incentives that inspire people to accept a job or stay where they are, and with rising interest rates and inflation, it all starts with salary. If you can afford to offer a higher salary, this is the time to do it, says Mr Berger.

“They have seen their work colleagues move for hefty pay rises, now it's their time!” he says. And don’t be shy about including the salary up-front in your job ad - 61% of candidates look for salary up front, and 63% say they find it frustrating when it’s not included.

Work-life balance is also a buzz term for a reason right now. “COVID has brought this sharply into focus, with work-from-home options, flexibility, four-day work weeks, etc.” he says.

4. Play to your strengths

If you’re in a larger business, you may have a well-established brand that inspires confidence and stability. Larger business may also be able to offer more opportunities for growth and development. But smaller businesses have plenty to offer as well, with the ability to be more agile being a strong selling point.

“Where several large businesses have called their staff back to the office, we’ve seen many small businesses continue to offer flexible working arrangements,” says Ms Farrington. “To many candidates, this is extremely desirable as it means less time spent commuting and more time for family, friends, rest and relaxation.

“Another thing that gives small business an edge is their agile and non-bureaucratic nature. Decisions can be made promptly, and teams can be scaled quickly. This is desirable to many of our Gen X and Gen Y candidates.”

5. Hire the right candidate as quickly as you can

Tighten up your hiring process, otherwise you risk letting your ideal candidate slip through your fingers. Nearly half (44%) of candidates say they’ve given up on applying for a job because the recruitment process took too long.

“The job market is crazy right now with most active candidates juggling multiple opportunities,” says Farrington. “Any inefficiency or unnecessary delay in your recruitment process could be the difference between landing the candidate and losing out to a competitor.”

While the market is undoubtedly competitive right now, your ideal candidate is still out there, and they want to work. What’s important is understanding what they want, and leveraging what you have to offer them. Take the time to set yourself apart, and you’ll rise to the top of your candidates’ wish list.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published September 2022

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