Finding your winning edge in the race for talent is requiring employers everywhere to explore new approaches to both recruiting and retention.   In a recent  blog, we discussed 5 new ways for employers to approach the race for talent.  Here’s five more………

Win the Race for Talent Rule #6 – Look for the candidate’s hidden “talent”, not just their skills or experience.

In today’s candidate short marketplace, hiring managers who learn how to identify and select employees based on their talent, not just specific  skills or experience, enjoy a special advantage.  First of all, they get to look more closely at candidates their competitors are likely to over look, reducing the competition for the “talent” they want to hire.  They also tend to find better candidates because they are giving focus to the “soft” skills that are as important as skills and experience when it comes to long term hiring success.

Unfortunately a candidate’s soft skills are much harder to “detect and teach” than are the more concrete, easy to quantify, hard skills.    For example, an employee either has 3 years of accounts payable experience, or they don’t.  An employee who loves to learn new accounting processes,  on the other hand, is a talent impossible to teach and more difficult to detect, but is likely the talent most closely linked to long term placement success in today’s fast changing work environments.

Today’s marketplace rewards employers who have found that balance between hiring employees based on their talent to contribute to the team long term and/or based on their here and now skills and abilities to get the job done NOW!   Hiring managers who are willing to “screen in” as well as “screen out” as the market and available candidate pools dictates are hiring managers prepared to win.

A talent focused hiring process takes longer…

At PACE we know our screening services are much more valuable to our client when they ask us to find the “right talent” not just a particular profile of skills and experience.  Our screening and candidate assessment processes definitely add time to our recruit, but in the end, delivers more value to our customer.

Win the race for Talent Rule #7 – Don’t wait for a specific job to come open before you start your recruit!

Despite all our advice to keep your hiring process moving quickly,  the reality of the current market is that it just takes more time.  Career Builder reported that between 2009 and 2014 the time it took to fill most open positions increased by 65%.  We suspect that number has doubled since 2014.

Proactive pipe-lining and recruiting for top candidates before you have an actual need is a recruiting strategy we highly recommend in today’s competitive marketplace.  Rather than starting a new recruit each time they need to hire, hiring managers who are in an “always interviewing mode”- building up a “bench” of potential candidates prior to need – always have a competitive advantage.

Many employers have embedded staffing strategies into their overall recruiting processes designed to hire quickly when the time is right plus reduce the number of early term quits or terminations.   For example, some employers now keep a certain number of “temps” in their workforce who have agreed to audition for a more permanent role on the team as openings come available.  These are strategies that work effectively for both employer and employee, particularly in today’s marketplace where speed and flexibility are shared values.

PACE recruiters, and the recruiters in our NETWORK, love to work with their clients proactively….making sure that when we see a candidate that “fits your long term staffing goals” we get them in front of you asap.  The popular “temp to hire” staffing strategy is one of our specialties and has been used by many of our clients to make sure they engage the talent they want even when they aren’t officially hiring.

Win the Race for Talent Rule #8 – Consider re-engineering the job to better fit the current candidate marketplace!         

A candidate short marketplace requires Hiring Managers to push the envelope on what’s possible – looking for new ways to get work done, to attract employees to their teams.   We know that some jobs are particularly difficult to fill because the current market doesn’t have an abundance of candidate’s with the specific combination of skills, experience, and talent needed to do the job well.    This issue not only makes the job difficult to fill, but because the current market is moving toward,  not away from,  specialization, it increases the likelihood of more frequent turnover.

In order for some jobs to stay reliably staffed, we often suggest the work content be re configured to require a more targeted set of skills or a different combination of part time or temporary staff to take on specific components of the job.  For example, staffing a position for a front desk receptionist is always a challenge, but if you require your receptionist to also have strong data entry or analytic skills, you are significantly reducing the size of the available candidate pool, lengthening and complicating your recruiting process.  Staffing that job with a full time receptionist and a part time or even temporary data entry employee will often make both jobs more attractive to prospective candidates.

Rule of thumb?  If the talent you need an employee to bring to one part of a job doesn’t line up with the talent they need to do another part of the job, it may be time to look at the position differently – either turning it into two part-time jobs, or re-engineering the work content to fit the skills more available in the current candidate marketplace.

And if there is any way you can re engineer work to add “flexible work hours” to your job description – in almost all situations, you will have significantly expanded your universe of potential candidates.  Right now flexibility around hours of work out ranks pay as the #1 reason why candidates take jobs. 

The PACE team can give you ideas on how other of our customers have re-organized jobs to make them “recruit ready” – i.e. more attractive to qualified candidates.

Win the Race for Talent Rule #9 – Get clear on why the right candidate will want your job!

Make no mistake – no recruiting campaign works unless there is a clear vision of why the right high-talent candidate would want this job instead of other jobs in the marketplace – the famous “What’s in it for me”/WIFM proposition.

What is it about this job that will make it the right fit for the right candidate.  They are part of your recruiting story which you and everyone involved in the recruiting process has to tell well and often.  You don’t have to engage all the candidates who apply for the job, but you have to attract and retain the interest of the right candidates each step of the way – from first contact to on-boarding.

At PACE, we take great pride in being able to tell our client’s stories well.  That’s why  its so important for our team to get to know the employees on your team and what it’s like to work on your team – really.

Win the Race for Talent Rule #10 – Treat your recruiter as your most important business partner – they are!     

We’re aware that for some hiring managers, their recruiters, particularly third party recruiters, are easily viewed as a necessary evil rather than as a valued business partner  i.e. the folks that make you go through an actual selection process rather than shoot from the hip and hope things work out.   That perception of the relationship between recruiter and hiring manager, if true, is unfortunate in that the recruiting/hiring/staffing  function is one of the most important processes a company needs to master in today’s marketplace. It impacts not just how a company gets its work done now and in the future – with either poor, good or great outcomes – but touches people’s lives, jobs and careers.

Our suggestions for growing your partnership?

And keep in mind you may only hire 3-4 times a year, but your recruiter is in the candidate marketplace  24/7.  They know things about the candidate marketplace that you couldn’t possibly know. And they know it not from data they have read, but from being in the trenches – solving staffing challenges for their clients each and every day.  One of the most important values your recruiter brings to the table is the ideas they have about how you and your team can win the race for talent!

Whew – you now have 10 things you can do now to make your hiring experience a successful one.  If you’d like to review our earlier blog on this same topic  click here.

Img: Jeanne KnutzenThis article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network, a Best of Staffing winner and  leading Northwest staffing company who has been helping  local employers find and hire high talent employees for over 40 years.  For additional ideas on how you can tackle the current marketplace – find and hire the employees you need for your 2018 business plan – contact the PACE team at 425-637-3312 or by emailing


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