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Hiring and competing for talent is always a challenge, but it is getting even harder as the candidate market tightens. In order to be competitive, many employers need to step up their game in recruiting and retention. Is it time to change your recruiting efforts?

There are several cost effective ways to help attract and retain employees.

Good Job Postings

Job postings are a great way to attract job applicants. However, with so many jobs posted online, it is important to have a complete job posting that not only explains the skills and requirements for the job, but also sells the company. Include information about your company’s perks, culture, turn-over rates (if they are good), and other unique information. Keep posting dates fresh. Job applicants are deterred by jobs that have been open for months! Job postings are a marketing tool and can help do the hiring for you.

Incorporate a Complete Branding Strategy

Many companies have great social media and branding strategies. However, there are still those who only use their marketing and social media to attract customers. Leverage these media resources to also attract employees for hire. Many job applicants research companies on social media before applying to a job. Some applicants only use social media to apply for jobs. Make sure that your marketing team and your human resources team are working in tandem to promote your business to customers and prospective employees. A passive candidate following your company page today might just be an active candidate tomorrow!

Focus on Retaining Your Existing Staff

One of the easiest ways to limit your hiring needs (outside of growth needs), is to retain your existing staff and decrease your turnover. Market research expects average salary increases to be between 2.5 and 4 % in 2016, depending on the source. Salary increases alone are not enough to retain talent in the high demand markets. There are many retention strategies that don’t cost a lot of money. The key is to engage employees. Increase communication and encourage employee feedback. Try creating a wellness program or initiating one-on-one employee sessions. Communicating with employees regularly and making them feel like their opinions matter goes a long way toward retention. And don’t forget to have a little fun! Happy employees who enjoy going to work are not only more productive but more likely to stick around.

Make Applying Easy for Job Applicants

I can’t tell you how many job candidates complain to us about the online application process. Hours of time spent filling out online applications, uploading resumes that don’t populate the fields, and connectivity issues that require applicants to start the process over and over again. While it is convenient to have as much information about a job applicant as possible, a time-consuming application process can deter some job seekers from applying. Make applying to a job as easy as possible for the candidate and DEFINITELY make applying on mobile available. Whether you have a formal mobile app or just an email address available to accept resumes, don’t let a complicated application process cost you a good candidate. If your application process takes longer than 5 minutes, you are likely deterring some of the most qualified job applicants.

Leverage Your Existing Staff

Make it easy for your employees to view company job openings and send referrals. You don’t have to have an expensive employee referral program, though those are nice too. Most employees who are happy with their jobs are more than willing to send referrals. However, don’t solicit employee referrals if you don’t plan to follow up with them. Even if the referral is not a fit for a current job, it will send an unfavorable message to your employees if no one follows up with their referrals!

Look Outside For Hiring Help

The market is tight and finding qualified talent is not easy. If you have a lot of openings, hard-to-find skillsets, unexpected growth, or don’t have enough staff to conduct a successful candidate search, it may be time to contact an external recruiter. Working with a good external recruiter can actually save you money when hiring. They have strong networks of passive candidates, teams to share the work, and only one job— TO RECRUIT! Quicker time-to-fill, fewer applicants to review, guarantee on placement success, and vast knowledge of current industry sourcing strategies all make using an external recruiter an easy decision.

Be Responsive

Top talent goes fast. Whether you are using an external recruiter or managing the hiring process yourself, being responsive is essential. Providing feedback to qualified applicants in a timely fashion will reduce your recruiting costs and increase the likelihood of securing that highly sought after resource. Most candidates expect feedback within 72 hours after an interview. Make it a priority to be responsive and communicate with candidates throughout the interview and hiring process in a timely fashion.