Thousands of candidates viewed your most recent job post — and plenty applied. As you wade through the seemingly endless resumes and profiles, it’s clear you’re getting a tremendous applicant response. The problem? They aren’t the right candidates for the role.

Whether applicants lack the training or years of experience or simply miss the mark qualification-wise, many organizations are struggling with engaging and activating candidates who sync with specific job requirements. For many HR and recruiting leaders, it’s a surprise. In 2020, US unemployment rose to record highs, peaking at nearly 15% in April, and countless job seekers flooded the market. Now, though, we’re experiencing the opposite — with considerably more job openings than there are candidates, finding and hiring top talent is increasingly a challenge.  

If your business is seeing abundant job-post traffic and applicants but still isn’t attracting the right talent, it’s important to pause and identify your specific challenges. Often, this imbalance — getting a solid number of resumes but still not finding the right talent for the role — is easily remedied in a few steps:

  1. Defining your “must-haves” and ensuring they are strictly what’s needed for the job.
  2. Ensuring your benefits and perks are well aligned with current industry norms.
  3. Promoting your job posts to the right audiences. 

By reviewing each of these potential pitfalls, your teams can identify what could be keeping the right talent from engaging with your posts and ensure you’re finding high-performance candidates every time. To get started, ask yourself: 

1. What is required vs. what is desired?

Many industries and roles require significant, specific education, training and on-the-job experiences. A good example: registered nurses (RNs). RNs require a four-year degree, three-year diploma, and higher certification in auxiliary nursing or an advanced, post-graduate diploma in nursing paired with a degree.

Minimally, it takes two to four years of higher education — and, depending on a facility’s needs, roles may require several years of on-the-ground experience or work in a specific department. Obstetrics nurses, for example, must complete two years of on-the-job training and have at least 2,400 hours of obstetrics experience before they can sit for the National Certification Corporation’s (NCC) Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification exam. Nurses who pass receive a certification in obstetrics nursing.

Requiring this level of training and certification already limits a candidate pool. In the case of nursing, though, layer on a critical nurse shortage and it’s clear why finding this type of candidate could be a significant challenge. But if hiring managers pile on additional “nice-to-haves” such as optional trainings, additional certifications and specific scheduling requirements, it limits the potential applicant pool even more. 
Medical hiring managers, though, aren’t the only ones experiencing a lack of qualified candidates. Engineering, high-tech, education, marketing and other key industries can have significant qualifications tied to even mid- and entry-level roles.

While it’s important to outline the experience, background, certifications and training required to successfully perform a role, too many must-haves may keep even qualified candidates from applying. To overcome this, consider listing only the skills, education, certifications and experiences that are nonnegotiable. Additional preferences — an MBA, for example, or training on more intuitive software and platforms — can be listed as preferred qualifications.

Many companies are following this approach. Tesla, Apple, Google and Netflix don’t require four-year degrees, citing successful business leaders and entrepreneurs who lacked this common qualification. Others have indicated that the core skills their organizations require are those colleges and universities typically don’t teach — coding, for example, as well as emerging technologies like AI and machine learning.

2. Can high-potential talent be trained on certain aspects of the job?

If there are ideal qualifications that aren’t required on day one, consider benefits like on-the-job training or paid upskilling and professional certifications, as needed. With Indeed searches for hiring incentives up 134% since the beginning of 2021, adding these benefits can drive increased attention to your posts.


Hiring incentives are becoming increasingly common in industries with harder-to-fill and more specialized positions:

Driving 16%
Dental 14%
Nursing 11%
Veterinary 11% 
Beauty & Wellness 11% 
Source: Indeed, Having Trouble Hiring? Try Offering Hiring Incentives, July 2021.

3. Are you offering what candidates are looking for right now?

It’s also important to consider the “new norms” in your industry and among specific roles or talent pools. For example, while requiring restaurant staff to return to their core workplaces, designers, marketers, developers and operations teams may be able to work from home or adopt flexible work schedules going forward.

When looking at roles you’re struggling to fill, consider benefits like flexibility or even an entirely remote schedule, if it’s appropriate. Now more than ever, flexibility is a top priority. More than half of current job seekers say working flexible hours is one of the most important benefits when assessing an offer, and one in three say it’s a top-three consideration when applying for a new job. If you have an open role that doesn’t truly require the employee to be in the office — or in the office full time — mandating it will likely reduce your candidate pool.

“More than half of current job seekers say working flexible hours is one of the most important benefits when assessing an offer, and one in three say it’s a top-three consideration.”

Flexibility, though, is just one example. Different industries and job types have different norms or pervasive priorities that hiring managers should be leaning into to best engage top candidates. Paid sabbaticals, childcare benefits and even support caring for aging parents can entice top-tier candidates.

4. Are there other benefits that could be appealing?

Granted, training perks aren’t the only sought-after benefits right now, but perks, in general, are key to getting top talent to consider your organization. 
More and more, competing in today’s market often comes down to thinking outside the traditional benefits box. Sixty-eight percent of employees think perks are just as important as benefits like healthcare — and many companies are responding accordingly. The percentage of companies offering pet insurance — a perk offered by 19% of companies now — is expected to climb to 27% in the next two years. Discount programs, legal services, identity theft protection and enhanced medical and pharmacy benefits are increasingly popular. Flexibility, again, remains one of the most sought-after perks among US employees.

Enhanced benefits and perks to consider

More and more, companies are offering creative benefits to current and incoming employees. Some enhanced benefits to consider — and promote — to attract and retain top talent:

  • Gym memberships
  • Extended parental leave 
  • Pet-friendly workplaces 
  • Paid education and training

All of this said, it’s not enough to just have expanded or creative benefits — it’s equally important to promote them. While 98% of employers plan to add or enhance at least one benefit, just 4.1% of Indeed job posts reference these added perks. Even if you can’t boost your benefits or perks right now, be sure that what you do offer is front and center in every job post.

5. Are you optimizing your job posts?

Taking a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach with your job posts may mean the right candidates aren’t seeing your message. Using optimization technology like Indeed’s objective-based campaigns can ensure posts align to your goals, including who’s seeing your opportunities.

Using objective-based campaigns, employers can target specific, relevant job seekers, delivering ad placements on and off Indeed. This ensures job posts reach the right candidates with the right skills, even if those candidates don’t initially engage on Indeed. 

Revisit job posts and eliminate any skills, qualifications or certifications that aren’t 100% essential on day one — and consider on-the-job training to bridge any gaps. At the same time, review your benefits and perks to ensure you’re in step with — or, better, competitive with — other businesses in your industry. From there, consider introducing a short candidate prescreen and better optimizing your posts to get to the right applicants faster. 

After gut-checking against each of these key questions, you’ll likely spot areas to optimize and enhance. From there, you will be better positioned to engage the right talent every time.