By Dawn Fay, Senior District President, Robert Half

Each month, economists and business leaders anxiously await news on the employment situation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which gives us multiple data points about hiring activity across the country. The latest report was a blockbuster: U.S. employers added 467,000 jobs in January, and there were positive revisions to the previous months’ figures as well.

This data surprised many who follow these reports on a regular basis. It also reinforced the strong levels of confidence and optimism in the job market, as I recently discussed with Bloomberg.*

There’s no question that businesses across multiple industries have learned to adapt and grow despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. This is great news for job seekers, as there’s something for just about everyone in the market right now. If you’re looking for talent, though, the environment is more complex than ever. Here are three strategies that can help drive a more successful hiring process:

1. Know your competition

It’s everywhere! Not long ago, you only needed to focus on having a stronger job offer than other firms in your local area. Now, with the prevalence of remote work arrangements, you’re competing for talent nationally and globally.

Your competition also includes the job candidate’s current employer (who is very likely to offer a healthy counteroffer when presented with a resignation), as well as a candidate’s interest in pursuing flexible contract work instead of a full-time job. Multiple options are pulling people in different directions, with each path offering unique benefits.

2. Get the right support

We’re getting more calls from firms that have never used outside recruiters in the past, even if they have full-time recruiters in-house. There are a few reasons for this.

First, firms know their in-house staff can’t be jacks-of-all-trades. Outside recruiters who specialize in one area have a deep understanding of those jobs’ requirements and can conduct more efficient searches (e.g., finance recruiters searching for finance talent, IT searching for IT).

Second, outside recruiters have an inside track on changing trends in compensation, benefits and perks, and other market conditions that shift constantly. They can advise on the best way to stand out in a crowded market today, which may be entirely different than it was last week or last month.

Finally, specialized recruiters have access to “passive” candidates. These individuals are open to hearing about new employment opportunities but may not reply to job postings or have a resume posted online. You’ll have an easier time connecting with passive candidates when you work with an outside firm.

3. Don’t neglect your current staff

With so much focus on hiring new talent, it’s easy to lose focus on your current employees. Don’t fall into this trap. I always tell clients your very best recruiting tool is your existing staff: There’s nothing more powerful than current employees who engage with prospective hires on what they like about their roles, career path and the firm’s leadership.

Hold retention interviews with each team member. Have regular conversations about the “big picture” at your firm so your employees know how their daily work is contributing to larger business goals. Also, get support so staff can hand off routine tasks and take “stretch” assignments or cross-train on mission-critical initiatives. Doing these things will keep internal morale and engagement at peak levels.

As you lead and expand your team, flexibility is the name of the game. Give your staff members as much autonomy as possible in how and where they do their jobs, keeping the focus on goals achieved versus hours sitting at a desk.

And when looking for new talent, know that flexibility leads to success. The perfect candidate doesn’t exist, so be willing to bend on job requirements and other factors. Your openness can lead to finding the right hire who can hit the ground running and make an immediate impact on your team.

*Segment starts at 4:25.

Follow Dawn Fay on LinkedIn.