It’s always top of their list of priorities – but in 2019, recruiters have found it harder than ever to source the right candidates. Here, we look at why it’s so difficult – and what you can do about it.

The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce spells out the figures: in 2019 Q2, 64% of businesses attempting to recruit staff found it difficult, with certain sectors even worse affected – such as hotels & catering at 74% and transport & distribution at 67%.

According to Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy for the British Chambers of Commerce “Businesses across all regions and sectors continue to experience persistent and pervasive skills gaps, damaging their productivity and competitiveness.”

Truth is, there are various factors that make it hard to recruit. The obvious one is the ongoing skills shortage, caused by rapid changes in many industries who are now looking for different skills than they traditionally needed. The knock-on effect has been to push up demand, so more competitive remuneration packages and flexibility are needed – and employers have been slow to catch up. At the same time, increased demand for those with the right skills means there’s greater turnover as people move on quicker, accelerating the cycle even further.

Ironically, while it’s good news that employment remains high and 30% of businesses expect to increase their workforce in the next three months (according to the Quarterly Recruitment Outlook), it will only make the situation worse.

And that means recruiters will have to work harder – and smarter – than ever to find the candidates they need. So we’ve put together a few tips on how best to do just that, and stay ahead of your competitors.

1. Go deeper with job descriptions

It’s important to get your client to clarify their thinking on exactly what they need; if they specify a certain level of experience on a job description for example, they could be closing off some candidates who’d turn out to be great in the role. Often, employers simply look at solving their problem too – they need someone to do a particular job, so look for someone who’s done it before. But few candidates just want to do the same job somewhere else – they’ll be looking for opportunities to do more besides.

2. Focus on more than just money

Yes a competitive salary is important – but increasingly, candidates are taking a broader view when looking at a role. Perks such as healthcare and flexible working come into play, as do what it’s like as a place to work; and for some candidates, a company’s mission and social responsibility profile are as important as opportunities for career progression. So make sure you get across what sets your client apart from its competitors, and why a candidate should work for them.

3. Keep in touch

Stay in contact with placed candidates and keep track of how they’re doing – if they become unsettled and look to move, you’ll be the first to know. And never miss an opportunity to engage with a candidate, such as wishing them luck in a new role or even just happy birthday – building a relationship can pay dividends later.

4. Be social

Building relationships with candidates can have other benefits too; they can help grow your network in their particular field, and highlight professional get-togethers that would be of interest to other potential candidates.

5. Get more from social media

LinkedIn, of course, is the go-to network for recruiters – but how you use it can make all the difference. For example, if you treat it as a CV database and use natural language searches – with relevant phrases such as ‘I delivered presentations to clinical’ or ‘I configured X’ – you’ll find profiles others might well miss. Save productive searches to LinkedIn Recruiter, and you’ll be notified whenever suitably qualified candidates appear. Using the ‘Update Me’ feature, you can also track candidates who look promising so you’ll be aware of when their career’s advanced to the next level. Specialists in certain fields often write about their work in blogs too, so keep an eye on relevant articles that can showcase potential candidates.

Other social media channels can also be very helpful. Recent graduates often use Flickr and Pinterest to share pictures of certificates they’ve achieved, so if you’re looking for a niche qualification it can be a good place to start. And Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can prove invaluable in building a broader picture of a candidate’s interests, activities and even their political views.

6. Look beyond the obvious

Niche talent isn’t always active on LinkedIn, so identify communities with the right skill sets you’re targeting. These could be a Facebook group, an event community, conference or other web group; and once you’ve found them, get interactive with them! Depending on the skills required, it can also be worth targeting new graduates through job boards and college/university contacts.

It may be no easy task, but plan ahead, get creative with your searches and go outside the usual channels and finding those candidates you’re after might just become a little less elusive!

At Back Office, we’re here to help recruitment agencies make the most of every opportunity. Just talk to any member of our team by calling 01260 280 290.