When you’re recruiting in a tight talent market, the goal isn’t to have every candidate choose you over competitors. A candidate might be a poor match for your company but a great fit for a competitor.
Instead, handle the competition by highlighting your employer’s brand, showing candidates what it’s like to work at your company. Leave it to the candidate to decide what they want and determine if your company is the right fit. This will filter out the candidates who wouldn’t be happy in the role, and will allow you to hire the person who genuinely wants to work at your company.
Below are the five strategies I use to reach candidates when competition is fierce (like right now!), and show them what it’s like to work in my organization.
1. Promote your openings on niche platforms
Sometimes my friends at startups complain that they’re having a hard time recruiting software engineers. After I talk with them, their problem becomes clear: they’re going after software engineers at the top engineering schools, just like everybody else.
Companies have different needs, and many don’t need to target the same types of candidates on the same platforms. For instance, if you’re a startup building a web app, you have more flexibility to hire from schools across the spectrum. Regardless of the schools you target, you’ll be able to find great candidates who know how to code and can build your product.
In contrast, your recruiting efforts may be limited to a smaller pool of schools when your team is solving more complex and cutting edge software engineering problems. For instance, you may need engineers who have PhDs in theoretical computer science to take on massive data projects, and you’ll need to target candidates from a small number of schools with specialized programs.
Instead of relying on the same big platforms as everyone else, determine what type of candidate you really need and target them on smaller platforms where they may be spending time. Here are a few forums to consider:
Custom job boards: Everyone goes to LinkedIn and Indeed, so explore smaller job boards—regional boards, industry boards—where your candidates might be to gain more traction (you can find a list of these here: 50 Free Job Posting Sites to Help You Hire Faster and Smarter).
Alumni affinity groups: These small groups are organized by specific interests, so you can target ones that fit with your target candidate’s profile.
Conferences: Find smaller regional and academic conferences that your target candidates attend.
Meetups: Get creative here. When I worked as an individual recruiter, I would go to technical user groups and try to recruit the students who asked the best coding questions.
With these smaller platforms, you’ll encourage more applications from candidates who are a strong fit than you would competing head to head with so many other companies on the same platforms.