Special offer 

Jumpstart your hiring with a $75 credit to sponsor your first job.*

Sponsored Jobs are 2.6x times faster to first hire than non-sponsored jobs.**
  • Attract the talent you’re looking for
  • Get more visibility in search results
  • Appear to more candidates longer

Top 3 Hiring Challenges (And How to Overcome Them)

If attracting quality candidates is a challenge for your business, you’re not alone. According to an Indeed survey of 250 employers, 43% of employers say that receiving unqualified candidates is their #1 biggest hiring challenge.

To learn more about the hiring challenges small and mid-sized business (SMB) owners face, we asked 250 employers: “What are your top three hiring challenges?” From a lack of quality candidates to being short on time and resources, here’s what they said — with solutions for navigating each challenge.

Post a Job
Create a Culture of Innovation
Download our free step-by-step guide for encouraging healthy risk-taking
Get the Guide

Challenge #1: Lack of quality candidates

As a small or mid-sized business, you might experience difficulties attracting quality candidates due to budgets and benefits that may not be able to compete with larger companies (e.g., health plans, free food).

In fact, our survey revealed that nearly half (43%) of employers say their biggest hiring challenge is receiving too many unqualified candidates on their job posts. Another 21% of our survey respondents say their #1 hiring challenge is not receiving enough applications.*

If a lack of quality candidates is leaving many of your roles unfilled, it may be time to switch up your recruiting strategy — but it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some strategies.

Go beyond job postings

Posting your job online is a great way to reach quality candidates, but consider diversifying your sourcing strategy to cast an even wider net. For example, you can use social media recruiting to connect with a larger pool of both active and passive candidates.

Instead of waiting for candidates to come to you, try Indeed Smart Sourcing to proactively find quality talent. Search millions of resumes across your industry and location and send messages to the candidates you’re interested in. You can even set up alerts so you’ll be notified about new job seekers who match your job criteria.

Here are three more unexpected places to source quality candidates.

Sourcing tip: Consider tracking source of hire to evaluate which sourcing methods are working best and help you decide where to spend your recruiting budget. You can track source of hire through an automated employee tracking system, by including a “how did you hear about us?” line on job application forms or by asking new hires during onboarding.

Invest in your employer brand

An Indeed survey of 2,091 job seekers revealed that 72% say it’s “extremely” or “very important” to see details about company culture in a job description.

To make your company stand out, broadcast your benefits and employee value proposition (i.e., what makes your company a great place to work) in your job descriptions and on your company career website or Indeed Company Page. If you don’t have one, you can claim your page for free here.

Share your company’s unique perks and benefits (e.g., daily lunches, gym discounts, 401(k) matching) and encourage your employees to leave honest reviews about what it’s like working at your company. Here are some additional tips to help you create a standout career site that elevates your employer brand.

Read more: Employer Branding: An Intro for Small Businesses

72% of job seekers say it's extremely or very important to see details about company culture

Hire a freelancer or contractor

Another way to quickly get extra support to complete projects and meet demand is to hire a freelancer or contract worker instead of a full-time employee. There are marketplaces where you can connect with freelancers who meet your needs and proactively reach out to them to fill any skills gaps your business may have.

The great thing about freelancers and contractors is that you have the flexibility to hire a full-time employee (or convert contractors to full-time) as needs and budgets change.

Related: Contracting Independent Workers: What is a Contractor?

Challenge #2: Writing effective job postings

A big part of attracting quality candidates comes down to your job descriptions. However, our survey suggests that writing effective job descriptions is a challenge for many employers. Almost a quarter of respondents claim: “I’m not confident in the job posts I write” and cite this step as one of their top three hiring challenges.*

Even if you source candidates from places other than online job sites, you’ll still likely need to send them a job description so they can decide whether the role and company could be a match. Here are three tips for writing more effective job postings that attract a candidate’s attention and provide them with an accurate view of the job.

Ask employees in related roles for help

Consider getting your job descriptions vetted by someone who’s worked in the role before (or who currently works in a similar role or on the same team) to make sure it accurately reflects the role’s requirements. You can also ask employees in related roles to come up with a list of common duties and responsibilities or must-have skills for the role.

Another way to enlist the help of your employees is by performing a job analysis — a method used to collect information about the duties, responsibilities, skills and desired outcomes of a particular job. It often involves interviewing employees and conducting employee questionnaires to find out what skills are necessary to complete a given job effectively.

Split job requirements into “must-haves” vs. “nice-to-haves”

According to a survey of more than 2,000 job seekers, 57% say they spend five minutes or less reading a job posting before deciding if the role is right for them. Make it easier for job seekers to scan your job descriptions by splitting the requirements of the role into “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” This can encourage a more diverse set of candidates to apply and can be an easy way to make your job descriptions more effective.

71% of employers say they split the requirements of the role into two lists of must-haves vs nice-to-haves

Answer job seekers’ questions

Quality candidates are often more likely to be looking for a position that’s a true fit, which means they’ll have a lot of questions about the role, company and what their impact will be. To help candidates qualify themselves, answer some or all of the following questions within your job posting:

  • What will an average workday look like? Who will the candidate report to?
  • What challenges will they be taking on? What is the work environment like?
  • Is there potential for career growth?
  • Why is the role important and how does it impact the company?
  • What will expectations be for the first 30 days? 60? 90?

To simplify the process of writing a standout job description, we’ve compiled job description samples for more than 600 jobs to help you attract your ideal candidates.

Challenge #3: Not enough time to devote to the hiring process

There are many steps involved in the hiring process — from candidate sourcing and outreach to reviewing stacks of resumes, scheduling interviews and offer negotiations. Many of these tasks are repetitive and time-consuming, and carving out enough time for them can be difficult, especially if hiring isn’t your only responsibility.

In fact, 27% of the 250 employers we surveyed ranked “not having enough time to pay the attention they’d like to the hiring process” as one of their top three hiring challenges. Another 21% of the employees we surveyed say their top recruiting challenge is receiving more job applicants than they have time to adequately review.* If there aren’t enough hours in your day, try these three strategies to work smarter, not harder.

Outsource hiring tasks

Since hiring can require a significant time investment, consider outsourcing your recruiting process. For instance, you can hire a third-party recruiter or headhunter to perform a variety of hiring tasks, such as sourcing, screening and interviewing candidates. These professionals often have access to a variety of talent and the tools and connections to find you a great fit for your open role.

Indeed Hire is an option you may want to check out if you need someone else to do the heavy lifting. A pay-per-hire recruiting service that balances automation with experienced hiring specialists, Indeed Hire provides a quality candidate in just three days, on average.** Give it a try.

Ask employees for referrals

If you’d prefer to keep hiring in-house, another strategy to try is an employee referral program. When your current employees do the work of sourcing new candidates for you, you’ll spend less time on outreach activities and more time connecting with top candidates. Referrals are also a great source for above-average candidates. An Indeed survey showed that 74% of employers say candidates sourced from employee referrals are “extremely qualified” for the role.***

To encourage successful referrals, sit down with your current employees and instead of asking “Do you know anyone who’s looking for a job?” ask, “Who would you work with again?” Additionally, consider offering a referral incentive — companies typically offer employees between $1,000 to $5,000 for each referral that gets hired and completes at least three or six months on the job.

Related: How to Find Good Employees

Rethink your screening process

For time-strapped employers, sourcing candidates isn’t the only major pain point. Screening and evaluating applicants can also be a huge time suck — from reviewing resumes to conducting phone screens, interviews and reference checks. An applicant tracking system (ATS) can help automate some of the steps in the screening process by parsing resumes for you. However, resumes don’t always tell the whole story.

When you post your job on Indeed, you can add skills tests and automated screener questions to learn more about your candidates without adding more tasks to your plate. You can then filter candidates based on their test scores and answers to your “deal-breaker” questions. After you’ve narrowed it down to your top candidates, you can also conduct virtual interviews right on Indeed so you don’t have to coordinate time and place.

More than 1 in 3 job seekers prefer virtual interviews via phone and/or video over in-person interviews


Hiring can be challenging no matter the size of your business. However, many small businesses don’t have a dedicated hiring team, making it hard to find time to complete all the steps in the hiring process, stand out from competitors and choose the right hiring tools to attract quality candidates.

While hiring will almost always require time and patience, using the strategies, resources and tools mentioned here can help you solve some of the top hiring challenges facing your business.

*Indeed survey, n=250
**Indeed Hire data (US)
***Indeed survey, n=663

Post a Job
Create a Culture of Innovation
Download our free step-by-step guide for encouraging healthy risk-taking
Get the Guide

Ready to get started?

Post a Job

*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

Editorial Guidelines