Corey Berkey

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Though the 10 percent unemployment rate in October 2009 was a national crisis, recruiting departments enjoyed the silver lining: plenty of candidates for every available position. It was like winning the staffing lottery. With so many highly qualified applicants, you could afford to run the selection process on your own terms.

As of July 2015, the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.3 percent. Though you might hate to admit it, you probably miss the days of plenty when it comes to sourcing candidates. Now, job postings for skilled positions get limited responses, and companies that do get responses have discovered that the quality of those applications has dropped off. Critical positions are going unfilled for extended periods, putting companies at risk.

Whether your company has run into a shortage of applicants, or it is a matter of receiving too many unqualified applications, the bottom line is that in today’s job market, you must change your strategy to increase the volume of high-quality applicants. Remember, just increasing volume isn’t enough. The key is finding the sweet spot between quality and quantity. That means meeting prospects where they are, then attracting the interest of the specific talent pool that best fits your needs.

Sourcing Candidates with Social Professional Networks

Where should you be sourcing candidates? One of the most dramatic developments in the recruiting game is the “rise of the social professional networks.” In four short years, professional networking sites have emerged and expanded their reach into the staffing process by a remarkable 74 percent.

Successful matchmaking between qualified candidates and available positions is dominated by a variety of professional networking sites, ranging from general options like LinkedIn to niche professional sites like Doximity, which caters specifically to physicians.

In fact, only internet job boards surpass social professional networks in connecting staffers with quality candidates. How do you make the most of this development? Fine-tune your online presence to maximize volume of highly-qualified candidates without getting flooded by lower-quality applications.

Straightforward Titling

A cleverly titled job posting might grab the attention of folks that stumble onto it, but the fact is that most job seekers are conducting keyword searches. The first step to sourcing candidates is creating a posting that will pop up in relevant searches, rather than relying on potential applicants to decode the responsibilities of a “Director of First Impressions.”

Skip the witty title in favor of a straightforward, traditional heading, which will increase both the number of applications and the proportion of applications from highly-qualified candidates.

General Expectations

When there were hundreds of candidates for every opening, it made sense to get super-specific in an effort to narrow down the number of applications. Now that sourcing candidates is more challenging, rethink your expectations if your volume of applicants is down.

Is degree attainment a requirement or a preference? Can work experience substitute for education in this position? Must an individual contributor possess both excellent technical skills and excellent people skills?

Applications will increase as you decrease the list of must-haves, so omit anything above the bare-bones requirements necessary to successfully perform the position’s functions. Hold your wish list for the interview process, and take it into consideration when making a final selection.

As the number of applicants rises, you can slowly add some of the preferences back into your job posting until there is a balance between quantity and quality.

Attractive Employer Branding

If you haven’t already taken control of your employer brand, now is the time, and you can start with your job postings. When considering your opening, candidates with plenty of options are far more interested in what’s in it for them. It goes without saying that pay has to be competitive when highly-qualified candidates are scarce, so your benefits, company culture, and development opportunities have to do the heavy lifting when it comes to setting you apart from the competition.

Aside from the traditional health and welfare benefits every employee expects, highlight any special opportunities your company offers. Do you have an internal mentoring program? Mention it. An adoption assistance program? Point that out, too.

After all, sourcing candidates is no problem for the highly successful Google, thanks to its reputation for having the most employee-centric benefits in the business. Google enjoys a high volume of applicants for every available position, and candidates are the industry’s finest.

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