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How to take hire top talent in a tight job market: 3 corporate tips and how to hire the “passive” candidates

Although most of the jobs added appear to be in the construction industry, the Canadian economy broke records, adding 106,500 jobs in April 2019, according to Statscan. This trend is expected to continue, as long as interest rates remain stable.

This contributed to an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, the lowest since March (at 5.8 percent.) Both the unemployment rate and the job growth numbers exceeded analyst expectations, which mostly projected 5.8 percent. All of which have made haring the top talent excruciatingly difficult.

Skilled Candidates in Short Supply

Here are some sobering statistics to think about (as of the beginning of 2019) [1] :

  • 86% of highly qualified candidates are not actively seeking new employers.
  • It takes, on average 50% longer to fill a position today, as compared to eight years ago.
  • Top candidates, if they become available, last only ten days — you’ll have to put aside your traditional recruiting modalities if you want a chance of hiring the cream.
  • 62% of employers feel the candidates control the labour market.
  • It costs, on average $500 per day for each job vacancy in the average workplace.

Problems to be solved in recruiting in a tight jobs market

In many ways, recruiting in this market mirrors overheated real-estate markets, with similar problems: pre-emptive offers, no time on the market, hidden listings (never advertised), high prices to acquire.

Specifically, here are the problems with the great economy and unemployment rates:

  • Extreme competition for the best talent.
  • Top candidates not on the market long — without outside recruiters, you probably won’t even know they were available.
  • Insufficient internal teams for recruiting in fast-moving markets where candidates last only days.
  • Candidate ghosting has become an epidemic (Where candidates don’t even bother showing up or informing of changes to status — usually when they’ve already been “scooped up.”)
  • Current long-term asset team members are tempted to leave.

How to overcome the competitive recruiting scenario?

Today, the best companies, the ones who never need to advertise or go through formal recruitment, have desirable workplaces. Leading the “tick-list” for most appealing cultures are:

  • Four-day work weeks with same pay (as 5-day weeks)
  • Flexible work hours
  • Option to work from home

#1 Flexible Company Environment

The number one reason a top recruit leaves a satisfying job for another option is the company environment. The three musts, today are the 4-day work week, flexible work hours and work-from-home options. Even bringing in one or two of these can make a difference. In particular, the 4-day work week makes recruiting very easy, all other factors being equal.

Don’t confuse Company Environment with Corporate Culture. Culture is no longer a top 5 item, as it’s too subjective and cliched to be of value.

#2 Salary and full benefits

After the “environment” is compensation. You don’t have to have the top offer to win a candidate since the environment, and other factors contribute to decisions, but you do have to be competitive — and have substantial benefits. Don’t make it complicated: dental, extra health care and pensions top the list. Continuing learning and tuition reimbursement are often significant, too, but are secondary to the top three benefits.

#3 Advancement and promotion

In today’s market, both environment and income come out on top, but the potential for promotion (or, failing that, at least credit and praise) are critical to lure top candidates.

The Secret to Top Talent Recruiting

Putting aside how to lure with the obvious negotiating factors, the real key to recruiting top talent is to focus on “already happily employed” candidates. Yes, this gets into the grey area of “headhunting,” but the reality is that talented people never stop looking, no matter how many years they have with a company.

Forget about the traditional resume and job interview process for the really top talent. Target them, learn about them, sell to them. You won’t lure the top talent by making things difficult for them.

It’s not a waste of time to “advertise” or post jobs, but this is more generic — not meant for recruiting the cream talent. So-called “transactional recruiting” certainly has its place for mainstream jobs that require qualified team members, but not necessarily the best-of-the-best. According to Deloitte, 74 percent of companies do use “transactional recruiting” — it’s not going away. But, in tight markets, chances are good you’ll be ghosted frequently (respondents don’t show up for interviews), and you’ll tend to get the lower-hanging fruit.

Three keys to recruiting “passive” talent

The two keys to recruiting the “passive candidates” — the top-talent who are not actively looking — are:

Make it well-known in your industry niche that you have a Flexible Company Environment: you encourage 4-day work weeks, telecommuting, home-working, and rewards based on performance rather than hours-at-the-desk
Consider using a top recruiter, such as Pivotal HR Solutions, to find and mine the “hidden” jewels who are not actively in the market.
Build long-term relationships. Chances are your industry is small, and the top talent knows everyone. Make sure you are extremely friendly and welcoming at all times, even to competitor team members. This is remembered when you try to recruit them.
Never burn bridges: related to building long-term relationships — but separated here because it’s widespread — is to avoid burning bridges. If someone leaves you, stay friends. No nasty work-divorces. You might some-day recruit them back. They also might tell other top talents how great you are.

Consider a full service HR solution

Even if you have the best HR team in your company, top talent is best recruited with the help of some outsourced help. Starting with building the “desirable work environment” — which can be facilitated by HR Management Consultants — down through to mining the top passive talent, a full-service solution works best for not only recruiting but retaining, top talent.

Do you need help recruiting or keeping top talent? Ask the experts at Pivotal HR Solutions.


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[1] Data from various sources, including Statscan,, HRWINS, and CEB, Global Talent Trends, Recruiting Blogs.

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