Four Steps to Winning in a Tight Candidate Market

By Kristen Harris

We’ve been through plenty of hiring cycles as recruiting and hiring professionals but have never seen one quite like this. Despite still-high unemployment rates and lower-than-expected job growth reports, companies continue to report extreme difficulty hiring the people they need. 

We keep hearing (or saying) “it’s a tight candidate market,” but what does that mean? It means that this is a hiring market with plenty of available jobs, rising pay levels, frequent counteroffers, and all moving extremely fast. Highly sought-after talent has the upper hand right now; companies need to think differently about finding and attracting candidates.

While many people are open to changing jobs, they’re not necessarily looking or waiting around, hoping you’ll call. They’re busy with their current job and, depending on what they do, might be inundated with new opportunities to the point they just tune out. 

To find and hire the talent you want in this market, you need to make your position attractive and sell it. Why should the candidate want this job? What is unique about your company? How is this better than where they are right now? And do they even know the job exists?

1. Share what makes your company special. Now more than ever, people want to know your company’s values, culture, and personality. Share a bit of what you do, who you serve, and why it matters. 

  • What makes your company unique, and why is it a great place to work? 

  • Who would they be working with? Include info about your team, clients or customers, and community involvement.

  • How would this role be better than any other, including the one they’re in now? Inertia is real. You need to offer something exciting and compelling enough to get them in motion.

2. Be as flexible as possible.

  • How are you providing work + life balance? People have realized how important it is for their work and personal lives to coexist, and they’re not interested in giving that up. 

  • What’s your current worksite situation? Many people in the marketing and creative space are looking for some flexibility, i.e., a hybrid arrangement. Others may want 100% remote roles only. Be specific about expectations, so there are no surprises later.

  • Does this role or your company provide development opportunities? Candidates value the opportunity to grow in their careers or develop new skills.

3. Sell your role and company. Just like you sell your core product or service to clients, you need to sell your company and position to candidates.

  • Tailor the role and posting for the candidates you want to attract. Highlight benefits that people are currently looking for.

  • Be specific and upfront about what’s critical for the role and skip the long wishlist of “nice to have” skills.

  • Create a targeted job posting. Think of it as a “features and benefits” ad. Keep it short, easy to read, and filled with what’s in it for them. Later you can share the full job description with interested candidates. Right now, you just want to interest them enough to submit their information or respond to your inquiry.

  • Identify the type of candidate you’re looking for and pursue them. Yes, post your ad in all of your usual places. But also find people that you think would be a fit or people who might know those people (ahem, us) and reach out. Remember, candidates are busy; go where they are.

4. Move quickly! We can’t say this enough…candidates are getting multiple offers, and hiring moves quickly.

  • When you find a good fit, make an offer or move forward with the next steps as quickly as possible. Don’t delay, don’t over-interview, don’t keep looking for a unicorn. 

  • If there will be multiple interviews or next steps, tell them exactly what is happening and when. You need to keep them engaged throughout your hiring process and keep that process as short as possible. 

We’ve always thought recruiting is a lot like matchmaking, and hiring is like dating. Candidates want to know whether you’re “the one” and why what you have to offer is better than the next option. And they’ll swipe by if your role is not attractive enough to catch their attention. 

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the marketing and creative people you need in this tight candidate market? That’s what we do, and we’re here to help.