So you released your posting for your brand manager opening out into the wild. You’re getting pinged nearly nonstop with responses from excited job seekers. Score!

But when you start digging into the resumes, your excitement fades. It turns out few, if any, of the applicants have the expertise your company needs to take your branding strategy to the next level. Now you’re wondering what else you can do to find candidates you actually want to meet.

You’re not alone. In our survey, 45 percent of advertising and marketing executives said it’s challenging to find creative professionals today — and it can be even more difficult to find candidates with sufficient experience for the brand manager role.

“Employers are looking for candidates with at least five years of true brand management experience under their belt, but they’re hard to find here,” says Sarah Elizabeth Zeis, division director for The Creative Group in St. Louis.

While looking for seasoned brand managers can feel like hunting for a unicorn, our recruiting specialists have some tips to help you find the candidates you want — and help you determine a salary that’ll get them on board.

Find the right stuff

“Finding specific industry experience is a roadblock many hiring managers come up against in Denver,” says Eric Kimble, division director for The Creative Group there. He encourages employers to look for candidates with a history of working with major brands. Even if they haven’t worked in your specific industry, they can apply brand strategies from the big players to your company’s branding.

Katie Bergin, division director for The Creative Group in Austin, Texas — also a challenging market for finding highly skilled brand managers — suggests another approach. “Don’t think about the number of years,” Bergin tells clients. “Instead, consider whether the applicant has worked in similar roles even if in other industries.”

Dig deeper

Across these markets, many employers have to rely on additional resources to find the right hire. “Solid candidates we get are often referrals from employers we work with and candidates we’ve placed,” Bergin notes. Kimble adds, “We typically find candidates through our professional network.”

That’s one reason why more hiring managers are turning to professional recruiters who have deep networks they can tap into to help speed up the recruiting process. “We’re good at digging deep,” Zeis says.

Pay for what you really want

Across the country, salary continues to be an important part of the hiring equation, and offering competitive compensation is a must. Amy Mangan with The Creative Group in Atlanta cautions employers to make sure their expectations align with their budgets.

“Companies who want five to 10 years of industry-specific brand management experience need to pay at or even above market,” says Mangan, a division director.

You can find the latest salary projections for a brand/product manager specific to your location in the Robert Half Salary Guide.

Sweeten the pot

While salary is crucial, it’s just one factor in an applicant’s decision. As competition for skilled creatives continues to increase, savvy employers offer extra perks and benefits to seal the deal, such as additional vacation days, workplace wellness programs and flexible scheduling options like telecommuting. Show potential hires the value you place on work-life balance and employee satisfaction. This can go a long way in securing top candidates with in-demand skills and experience.