How to Fill Those Hard-to-Fill Positions

Good news—the economy is stronger than it’s been in years—and getting better. Bad news—you’re going to have even more trouble than usual finding suitable candidates for certain vacant positions. And the longer those vacancies go unfilled, the more disruption they cause.

BLR® Contributing Editor Jennifer Carsen, JD, sorts out what’s happening and what to do about it.

Why Some Positions Are Hard to Fill These Days

It wasn’t too long ago that you were probably inundated with résumés for every single job opening you posted and then some. But that’s simply not the case lately for many employers. Here are some of the most common reasons certain roles remain stubbornly unfilled:

  1. Unemployment has decreased substantially. This means there are fewer individuals applying for any given position. By default, this means some roles will take longer to fill than before.
  2. There is a shortage of workers with specific skill sets. This is true across a multitude of industries within our economy, ranging from manufacturing to technical positions. It is especially true in fields (such as health care and engineering) that require specific technical skills.

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  1. The expectations and required experience may be too specific. If you were buried under an avalanche of applications from unqualified individuals during the recession, you may have responded by making experience and/or skills requirements extremely specific in order to quickly winnow out the candidate pool. While logical, this practice can unfortunately begin to weed out otherwise qualified candidates if the bar is set too high.
  2. Wages have stagnated. With wage stagnation comes the likelihood that the pay or benefits you offer may not match up with the expectations of potential employees. If you’re finding that your candidates of choice are rejecting your offers of employment, there may be a disconnect between the required skill/experience level and the pay and benefits package your organization is offering.
  3. Recruiting efforts may be too limited. Some organizations lack the recruiting reach to get their open positions advertised to a wide enough audience to find the skill set they require. Other organizations are not leveraging social media effectively in their recruiting and hiring efforts.
  4. Training may be inadequate. Companies are offering less and less internal training and instead, are expecting employees to be able to hit the ground running with most of the necessary skills already in place. This is in marked contrast to years past, when extensive training was often a regular part of the employee onboarding process.
  5. Education may not have kept pace. Going hand in hand with the last item, more and more jobs today require a higher level of education. Nowadays, the majority of positions require training or skills beyond a high school education, and many require a college degree or other technical training of some type. A related problem is the fact that many entry-level employees lack even the basic skills necessary to succeed at a job, such as timeliness, organization, full literacy, and the ability to think critically and solve problems.

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  1. Qualified candidates may give up because application processes are frustrating and lengthy. Many of today’s candidates expect applying to be a simple, quick, online process, yet only a small fraction of organizations offer this functionality on a consistent basis—and even fewer have mobile-responsive application processes. This can pose a big problem for your recruiting efforts, especially if you are looking to hire a lot of highly connected, tech-savvy Millennials.
  2. Employers may fail to entice candidates. Many organizations focus job postings solely on the employer’s needs, without including information on what new hires will gain from the experience of working there.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we will show how to go about filling those hard-to-fill openings, plus an introduction to BLR’s latest research report: Recruiting Best Practices: Finding and Attracting Talent in 2015’s Challenging Business Climate.

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