By Steve Saah and Randi Weitzman, Executive Directors of Permanent Placement Practices at Robert Half

In today’s red-hot labor market, where 88% of managers say it’s challenging to find skilled professionals, putting talented people into place requires us to work at top speed through a process that still manages to be time-consuming.

Too often, progress breaks down as our candidates stall, weigh competing offers and sometimes simply melt away. Hiring managers are frustrated, weary and wondering how long this can last.

As tempting as it may be to take a breath, ease back and wait for a more favorable talent climate, we are here to tell you: Don’t.

You can’t win if you don’t play. Now is the time to ramp up, giving your hiring managers the tools and runway to land the best on the market, efficiently and effectively. We have a few tips you can take away.

Tell a compelling story

Do you have a clear understanding of your employer brand? The story you tell the world about your workplace will differ from how you market your organization to your customers. Your employer brand emphasizes your company's reputation, unique benefits and lived values. It can be a powerful deciding factor for an employee weighing competing opportunities.

To develop a strong employer brand, consider what it means to work for your organization. Ask your current employees what attracted them to you. And why do they stay? What do they say about you to their friends and colleagues outside the business? Gathering this information, possibly through an employee survey, can help you tell a compelling story to potential candidates in job ads, on social media and in interviews.

The most important feature of an employer brand is that it must be authentic — not invented or aspirational. You want your new employees to experience what you promised them once on board, and if they don’t, your brand will take a credibility hit.

Streamline your hiring processes

Job candidates today are juggling multiple interviews and onboarding more quickly than ever. It’s common for some to slip away if the process drags on. In fact, a recent Robert Half survey found that 62% of professionals said they lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back from the employer within two weeks — or 10 business days — after the initial interview. That number rises to 77% if there is no status update within three weeks.

You’ll have a better success rate if you shorten the time between application and interview, from interview to hiring and from hiring to onboarding. Some ways to streamline the process are:

  • Make sure your job descriptions accurately reflect the skills needed for the position so you're more likely to attract applicants who fit your requirements and can be selected quickly.
  • Try to do as much as you can internally in advance, ensuring your paperwork and interview and approval processes are firmly established, and a timeline is set.
  • Set your compensation range so you can make an offer immediately. Know how much wiggle room you have if candidates want to negotiate. You’ll only have one chance to make a winning offer.
  • Stay in touch with top candidates to reinforce your interest in bringing them aboard and look for ways to further engage them.
  • Empower your hiring managers to make final decisions when possible.

Don’t hold back on pay and perks

When was the last time you conducted a compensation and benefits review? Much has changed in the past three years, so be sure your offerings are still competitive in this new talent climate. According to Robert Half’s 2023 Salary Survey, the most common ways employers are attracting workers today are higher starting salaries (46%), signing bonuses (34%), flexible work options (33%) and hiring remote candidates (31%).

There’s no doubt that candidates across industries are looking for flexibility and remote work options more than ever, so think about how you can become more competitive in this arena

Take a holistic approach to qualifying candidates

Try to guard against overlooking talented applicants because you’re relying heavily on automated screening processes. Rather than trying rigorously to match a job description to a resume full of job titles, duties performed and academic degrees, try a more holistic, talent-first approach. Take a deeper dive into candidates’ soft skills and real-world experiences to assess their ability to be successful in the role.

Finally, you might land a great-fitting employee with less risk by pursuing a contract-to-hire approach.

Hiring new employees can be time-consuming and expensive. And when competition from other employers is also a factor, your best bet may be to outsource the search to a talent solutions firm, which is likely to have screened candidates already on deck. If you choose a firm that specializes in the field where you're looking for talent, you can further boost your chances of getting the right employee on the first try.

Follow Steve Saah and Randi Weitzman on LinkedIn.