5 strategies for filling key jobs quickly (and still hiring the right person)

5 strategies for filling key jobs quickly (and still hiring the right person)

Employment in the U.S. is expected to grow 10.8 percent between now and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, in September alone, the U.S. economy added 248,000 jobs.

That makes it a job seekers’ market, especially for those with in-demand skills in engineering, IT, sales, accounting and healthcare. As a result, those who recruit for hot job functions need to understand how top candidates experience the job-change process to fill key roles successfully.

A recent study from the Brookings Institution found that science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) positions take more than twice as long to fill as non-STEM jobs. Robert Half Technology surveyed more than 2,000 CIOs and found that 61 percent of respondents admitted it would be challenging to successfully fill positions as they grow through the second half of 2014.

To find out how to combat some of their challenges in filling those roles, I spoke with Tom Leung, founder of Poachable, an anonymous career matchmaking service and a former executive at Google and Microsoft.

According to Tom, passive job seekers considering new jobs are complaining about working with recruiters and multitasking hiring managers who are desperately trying to fill key roles. They say LinkedIn emails are failing in multiple ways to match them with the right potential jobs. And we’re not talking about LinkedIn’s failures — we’re talking about the hiring companies’ failures to address these hiring challenges the right way.

Combat these trends with these five strategies for filling key roles at your company:

1. Speed up response time

Passive candidates have a limited amount of attention to devote to the job-hunting process, because they’re busy being awesome at their current jobs. If suitors aren’t responsive or respond slowly, it’s easy for their emails to get pushed down beneath the constant swarm and buzz of a candidate’s inbox.

Candidates remember when a company doesn’t follow up well, and it’s amazing how many times we’ve heard that it can leave a very bad taste in a potential candidate’s mouth for years. Whether you like it or not, every person at your company who connects with candidates has the power to make a big impact on your employer brand.

2. Pitch jobs to potential hires with the right experience level

Jobs that are being pitched to potential hires with the wrong experience level are a symptom of what I call the “spray and pray” approach. Nevertheless, we hear the complaint all the time. Candidates hate hearing a prospective employer tell them they’d be perfect for a role when it’s obvious they’re not. You would be surprised how many times the founders of venture-backed companies are actively recruited by large technology companies, without the recruiter understanding or taking the time to research that any move would need to incorporate the entire company the founder is building.

Similarly, we’ve talked to numerous top performers at Google and Facebook who are presented with more junior roles at smaller competitors. This “mail merge” candidate sourcing gives the feeling of impersonality to recruiting. Companies fail to invest time in selecting roles that are a good match for candidates, and that’s why candidates quickly begin to tune out even legitimate recruiters and genuinely great opportunities.

3. Include the hiring manager in the process from the beginning

We’ve also heard lots of feedback when a hard-to-reach candidate finally agrees to an introductory call, only to find a sudden change in interest from the potential employer’s end. What starts as a recruiter telling a candidate, “I think you’d be great! Come work for us,” turns into a hiring manager pointing out all the reasons a candidate is not perfect.

The breakdown in communication between the hiring manager’s vision of the new role and the skills that the recruiter is looking for on résumés is a lose-lose. Without good framing ahead of time, these calls usually end with the passive candidate feeling like they were being grilled, as if they were asking for the job and the hiring manager felt like the candidate wasn’t “hungry” enough.

4. Ensure you’re in the ballpark with your salary offer

When senior recruits are highly compensated at their current roles, and are open to a change, the initial offer often entails a huge pay cut. It’s best to make sure everyone is at least in the same salary ZIP code before asking someone to take a day off to “come in and meet the team.”

As the economy continues to recover, potential candidates will be more willing to say no to positions they find interesting when the pay doesn’t line up. A mid-year hiring report by Dice.com recently found that 61 percent of hiring managers have had candidates ask for higher salaries after they were offered a position.

5. Cultivate the relationship

Money isn’t everything. If you’re looking to grab someone from Google, they’re going to outbid you, so you need to take another approach. A good relationship can really impact the candidate/recruiter conversation in the long run.

Most candidates are open to sharing more about their backgrounds and what they’re really looking for. Unfortunately, they deal with dozens of inbound recruiters a year. Most of them are focused on the open role they’re working on filling in that very moment and the end commission that comes with filling it quickly. This transactional approach to sourcing makes it hard for a desirable candidate to trust a recruiter over the long term to identify that perfect next role.