With the strong economy, companies are hoping to expand, but the skilled talent they need to grow is getting harder to find. Just ask the people trying to hire — as we have. In the latest edition of The Demand for Skilled Talent from Robert Half, we report survey results of Canadian executives’ hiring plans in several industries. And the numbers who say they face recruiting challenges are surprisingly high:

  • CFOs: 51 per cent 
  • Lawyers: 56 per cent
  • CIOs: 34 per cent

Chances are, your company will feel that pain soon. Forecasts predict even lower unemployment rates and higher job creation as 2018 progresses — or to put it another way, there’ll be fewer candidates for more jobs.

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If your firm is looking to hire, you need to recognize that it’s a candidate-driven market. You’ll have to work double time to staff vacancies and new positions. Read on for more about recruiting challenges you may soon encounter. And, after that, we’ll suggest some ways to deal with them.

Recruiting challenge #1: Hiring on the rise

Overall, Canada added 423,000 jobs in 2017, closing out the year with the country's lowest unemployment rate since at least 1976, and the trend is set to continue through this year. Hot jobs in growing sectors, such as finance and marketing, saw unemployment rates of less than 2 per cent in the last month of 2017. With a shrinking pool of talent to draw from, employers can expect an ever more competitive hiring market.

Recruiting challenge #2: Stiff competition for talent

With plenty of opportunities and fewer applicants, the best candidates often get multiple job offers. To convince these people to join your firm, you need to showcase what you offer that your competitors don’t. Top priorities for candidates include attractive pay, work-life balance options and a satisfying job experience.

Check out the Robert Half Salary Calculator to see the salary ranges skilled candidates in your city expect to earn when starting a new job.

Recruiting challenge #3: High employee turnover

The Demand for Skilled Talent reports that 46 per cent of North American employees would consider leaving their companies for a better job, even when they’re not actively on the job hunt. No doubt some of these folks are your own workers. Especially at a time when recruitment is so tough — not only time-consuming but also costly — you should make every effort to limit your vacancies.

Recruiting challenge #4: Lack of skilled candidates

If you don’t think there are many skilled candidates in the pool now, just wait: Chances are, it will only get worse. Recruitment is particularly challenging for employers in fast-growing sectors, such as tech and healthcare, and firms report labour shortages are already getting worse.

How to get the upper hand

Recruiting challenges are intensifying, but it’s not impossible to overcome them. Here are several tips to improve your chances of securing top talent:

Recognize compensation is not the place to skimp. It goes without saying that offering a good salary and benefits package puts you at an advantage, but this is especially true today. How much is enough? Use the Robert Half Salary Guides to check starting salaries in your area to ensure your pay ranges are competitive. Also, consider non-monetary incentives: Commute time is a top concern among many candidates, so offering work-life balance options — think flexible hours and telecommuting opportunities — can help attract applicants.

Put your best foot forward. Know your strengths and make sure your company culture is central to your hiring strategy. A company that combines enticing perks, a commitment to social responsibility and a track record of innovation is often appealing to good candidates. In fact, a recent Robert Half survey found that 87 per cent of employees believe it’s important to consider a company’s reputation for innovation when evaluating a potential employer.

Don’t try to do it all alone. Hiring the right person is pivotal today, when skilled professionals are scarce and companies can’t afford the cost and disruption a “do-over” requires. Working with a staffing agency can solve many of the recruitment challenges you may face in 2018, including finding a good fit the first time around. A reputable staffing firm — especially one specializing in the field where you’re looking for candidates — can help significantly because of its wider access to job seekers, including those not actively looking.

Stop looking for the ‘perfect’ candidate. Given the small pool of available talent, it could be that no applicant will possess all the soft and technical skills you need, as well as the exact experience you desire. Instead, you may want to consider hiring individuals who show potential and the ability to learn quickly, then create professional development and learning opportunities to gradually bring them up to speed.

Work on retention. Keep your employees satisfied in their jobs by creating a positive, supportive work environment:

  • Offer more vacation
  • Focus on employee appreciation
  • Promote professional development
  • Start a mentorship program if you don’t already have one
  • Give staff your personal involvement in achieving their career targets

The recruitment space is ever-changing. Keeping up with new developments and trends will allow you to increase your reach, target your search and bring in professionals who are a good fit with your company culture. Use tech tools such as applicant-tracking systems as well as smart non-tech tactics like employee referral programs.

Download our free report, The Demand for Skilled Talent, and start making smarter hiring decisions today.