As the RACE for TALENT  continues to heat up…Recruiters and Hiring Managers need NEW staffing and recruiting strategies!

With Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other fast growing tech firms beefing up their hiring plans locally, it’s doubly important for our clients to know what its going to take to win the race for talent!  In our forty years of recruiting in the local market, we’ve never seen the competition for talent more robust…and we’re pretty sure its going to get worse, before it gets better!

And make no mistake, candidates are now fully aware of their newly recognized value in our local marketplace.    Over the last 3 years we’ve seen their “job seeking” behaviors change dramatically.  Not only are they  more picky about what jobs they will consider, they are applying for any job “they might like”  even though they lack the required skills and/or experience.  With submitting an application just takes a “click”,  recruiters have to sift through 100’s of resumes, just to find the few who are likely to be the right fit.  This factor alone has dramatically slowed down the recruiting process!

So looking at the race for talent through a recruiters eyes, check out the following scenario and see if you see what we see about where this hiring manager might be setting themselves up for a less than positive recruiting experience:

“I need to hire someone quickly to replace Betty who is leaving at the end of the month.  I would like to interview 3-4 candidates in the next 2-3 days before I leave town and will make a decision when I return a week from this Friday.  Bettie is going to be a tough act to replace, so we want to make sure we pull out all the stops to hire the “perfect” candidate.   Hopefully you can get the paperwork started right away so the person can start the following day after I get back.”

We see many issues with this type of request (which happens more than you would think)  but let’s look at them one at a time to better understand what hiring managers and their recruiters need to be doing together to compete for the best talent in today’s marketplace.

Starting with this manager’s belief that there is such a person as their “perfect – just like Bettie” candidate, we land on our first rule…….

Win the Talent Race Rule #1Do your homework to identify the skills, experience, and intangible qualities you need before you begin your search.

“Find me a candidate just like Bettie” is probably not clear enough to give the recruiter a road map to success.   Before you even meet with your recruiter, ask yourself – “what does my recruiter need to know about the qualities of that perfect candidate who is “just like Betty”.   The more thought you spend creating the right recruiting profile up front, the easier it will be for you and your recruiter to find and hire the right employee, and avoid wasting time pursuing the wrong candidates.   

Want to know more about how to profile the “ideal candidate?  Click here to access a blog dedicated to this topic. 

Once you’ve created your “ideal candidate” profile, how will you know IF such a candidate even exists in today’s marketplace?  We think this is important, which brings us to…

Win the Talent Race Rule #2Make sure the person you are want to hire actually exists! 

There are several things to consider – are the skills and work experiences you think you need to replace Bettie actually available in the local market?  Sometimes there are so few candidates available with the profile of skills and experience you think you need, you have to re think your profile or spend a whole lot of time trying to find a person who doesn’t exist.  And even if market has the candidates you want to hire,  how much will those candidates cost?  Keep in mind that if you hired Betty several years ago, chances are the knowledge and skills she uses today are not the same knowledge or skills she had when she first started work. So how much time are you willing to put in to develop your new employee, or do you absolutely need them to be on point right out of the gate?

Your “ideal candidate profile” has to match-up with the pay and development resources you have available or you run the risk of wasting time chasing a “unicorn” you won’t be able to hire.

A good recruiter is able to answer most of your questions on the availability of the candidate you want to hire in the local marketplace and how much the right candidate is likely to cost.  They can also help you define the “recruiting profile” that will work with your budget and resources.  Make sure you listen to their advice and adjust your recruiting plan accordingly.

Which brings us to the next rule…

Win the Talent Race Rule #3Skip the search for perfection.  Look for attributes most important to performance and retention. 

Keep in mind that if your recruiter is lucky enough to find 2-3 candidates who fit the profile you’ve created, the chances are none of those candidates would be considered “perfect”.  The search for perfect in any marketplace is never a “win the race” strategy – but particularly ineffective in a tight talent market.

The rule of thumb is to give your recruiting 5-10 factors that you think are key to hiring success – attributes any candidate they find for you has to have in order for them to be worth your time interviewing.  At PACE we call them “key requirements” and one of the first thing we do with hiring managers is make sure we have full agreement on what those factors should be.

And even if the candidate meets all key reqwuirements, how do we know they’d like the job?

Win the Talent Race Rule #4 – A successful recruit is a two way street.  The candidate you want to hire has to be motivated to take the job! 

Of the candidates your recruiter will find who “can do” the job, the reality is that very few of those candidates will actually “want to do” the job.   The issues that can come up in terms of a candidate’s interest in the job, are not just about work content, but touch many other factors important to placement success – where the job is located (i.e. the commute), the hours of work, the degree of flexibility, their compatibility with the boss’s work style, or the organization’s culture, are all important to long term placement success.

No question, candidates are getting very particular about what jobs they are willing to consider.  Hiring managers can no longer assume that every candidate they’d like to hire will want to be hired. Your recruiter has to be good at  identifying the candidate’s ability to do the job, but also assessing the candidate’s motivators to make sure they are a good match for what you, your company, and the job have to offer.   Get that wrong, and you will have hired a candidate who, down the road, will be receptive to a competitive offer.

And all this screening and vetting activity takes time, which brings us to the next rule……

Win the Talent Race Rule #5 – Carve out enough time to MOVE QUICKLY! 

For as much as we understand this hiring manager’s request – to “interview candidates by Friday” and to make a hiring decision the week following, today’s candidates are not always able or willing to accommodate the employer’s schedule or wait for around to get an offer of employment.  Candidates have their own schedules.   They are busy interviewing elsewhere, often with employers who can move quickly, with streamlined vetting processes.

Forgive the pun,  but the PACE at which you or your company is able to find, evaluate and eventually hire a candidate from beginning to end is now making a big difference.    Candidates are lost when a manager takes too long to decide or a company has too many unnecessary steps in their screening processes.

(Don’t get me wrong –  any steps in your candidate screening and selection process that helps you make good hiring decisions need to stay in tact.  But anything in your candidate screening or selection process that don’t add value to that decision, need to go!)

And yes, even the “get the paperwork ready” part of the hiring process is a much bigger process than it was just a few years ago.  Criminal background checks now take 3-10 days and according to the EEOC, they shouldn’t be started until you’ve actually selected the employee you want to hire. The full onboarding process can take days longer.

We’re finding that hiring a high level administrative employee can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks.  More specialized candidates take considerably longer (6-8 weeks).

We hope our “win the race for talent ” rules aren’t scaring you.  Stay tuned for more in our next blog!

In the meantime, if you’d like to read more about hiring candidates based on the “right fit”  check out this blog on that topic. 


This article was written by Jeanne, Knutzen Founder and CEO of PACE Staffing Network at 2017 and 2018 Best of Staffing winner. PACE has been helping Northwest job seekers find employment and employers find the right talent for over 40 years.  In 2017 and 2018 PACE has earned the Best of Staffing designation, putting it in the top 2% of the staffing industry nationwide.

For more information about PACE and how its unique NETWORK solution could make a difference in your “race for talent” feel free to contact Jeanne directly at


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