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How to Hire in a Competitive Market


When unemployment rates drop, job seekers benefit with lots of potential job opportunities. But what’s great for job seekers makes your job, as an employer, more difficult when you need to fill a vacancy. Positioning yourself as an attractive option starts with solid compensation and benefits, but picky job seekers look for more than just a good payday. Improving your recruiting strategy and becoming more competitive can help you snag the best candidates.

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Upgrade your job descriptions

Stand out from the start with creative and informational job descriptions. A boring job description that sounds just like everyone else’s won’t get job seekers excited about the opportunity. When writing your job descriptions, show your personality with funny or creative wording and titles. Show them what it’s like to work at your company through your words, so they can tell if it’s a good culture match.

Include very specific details about the job, so candidates understand what they’re applying for. Vague details can result in your top candidate turning the job down if it doesn’t match what they want or need.

Include the following information:

  • Detailed job duties
  • Salary range and benefits
  • Location and the possibility for remote work
  • Required and preferred qualifications
  • Details about the company culture
  • Specific application steps

Review your compensation and benefits

Attracting the most qualified candidates starts with offering competitive salaries and a solid benefits package. Research competitors and industry-standard salaries to determine if your wages are competitive. Increasing your salaries to attract and retain high-quality employees can save money over time since hiring costs are high.

Consider the benefits your competitors offer, which go beyond traditional time off and insurance. A flexible work schedule, unlimited PTO, free food in the breakroom and other nontraditional perks can make you stand out and appeal to job seekers. Give specifics on the benefits in your job description.

Make it easy to apply and interview

If you make candidates jump through lots of hoops just to apply, some might skip your job opportunity completely, especially if they have lots of other options. A simple mobile-friendly, online application process makes it faster for candidates to apply.

Continue the simplicity through the interview process. Screening candidates with phone interviews ensures you do in-depth interviews with the most qualified candidates. Flexible scheduling and virtual interviews make it easier for your top candidates to interview conveniently.

Create a referral program

An employee referral program is often a faster way to hire new employees. The applicants are usually well-qualified for the job and a good culture fit. Plus, your current employees get a little bonus, which encourages them to stick around and refer more people to your company.

Having a good company culture can improve your referral program even more. Employees who love working for your company will be more likely to recommend that a friend apply.

Improve your image

Your company’s reputation can improve your recruitment prospects. Employees want to work for a company that treats people well. If you have a reputation as an employee-friendly company that supports its staff, more people will want to work there.

Focus on keeping your current employees happy and offering extra little perks. This helps your employees become advocates for your business when they talk about how well you treat them.

Focus on retention

Using employee retention strategies to avoid turnover can help you avoid the need to do a lot of recruiting in a competitive market. Instead of focusing all your attention on hiring new employees, put some of your efforts into keeping your current employees happy. This can also improve your company’s overall reputation and result in more employee referrals, which can help when you do have a vacancy.

Expand where you recruit

If you stick to the same few methods of recruiting employees, consider expanding to reach more people. Traditional job postings on sites, such as Indeed, are effective, but expanding into creative recruitment methods can help you reach people who aren’t actively seeking a new job.

Some places to consider recruiting include:

  • Your social media pages
  • Job boards through professional organizations in your field
  • In-person networking events
  • College career service offices
  • Job fairs
  • Paid social media advertising
  • Online message boards and communities related to your industry
  • Email list

Reevaluate your expectations

Some job requirements are nonnegotiable. A public school teacher needs a four-year degree and a valid teaching license in the state. A hairstylist needs a cosmetology license. Other requirements are things you need your employees to have, even if they aren’t state-mandated.

Loosening up your standards in some areas can expand your candidate pool. Many technical skills can be taught easily after someone is hired. Focusing more on the overall potential of an employee, rather than whether they have skills that are easy to teach, can give you more options. Think about what the candidate truly needs versus what you can teach later to create a deeper talent pool.

Act fast

While you don’t want to rush into a hiring decision, waiting too long to extend a job offer could mean you lose your top choice. The best candidates often receive multiple job offers. If your number one pick gets an offer somewhere else first, you could potentially miss out on an ideal employee.

Be prepared to make your decision quickly by being clear on what you want and need. Schedule the interviews close together, and gather all decision-makers quickly after the interviews end to make your decision.

Streamline onboarding

A strong onboarding process is also crucial in a competitive hiring market. Engage new hires from the time they accept the job offer with transparent communication and a clear step-by-step onboarding process. Early support to help employees feel like a part of the organization can increase the chances of them staying long-term.

FAQs about hiring in a competitive market

How do you know where to advertise jobs?

Consider where your ideal candidates hang out. Posting online is the fastest and easiest way to reach a broad audience. If you’re looking for someone in a very specific industry, focusing on industry organizations, message boards, social media groups and similar options can help you reach qualified candidates. When hiring, track where you get the most candidates and where you find the most qualified candidates. Using this data can help you plan for future job postings.

How do you find candidates who will stay?

It’s tempting to rush into a hiring decision in a competitive market, but it’s worth your time to choose a candidate who’s likely to stay. This lowers your turnover costs and keeps productivity higher by keeping someone in the position for longer. Finding someone whose values align with your company’s culture and mission can reduce turnover. Look at the candidate’s past experiences. A history of job-hopping could be a good predictor that the candidate won’t stay long at your company, either. Look for candidates who seem genuinely excited about your company and job opportunity, and evaluate whether their future goals align with any advancement opportunities you may have.

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