Hiring is a more complex field than most people realize. HR and hiring departments are constantly juggling multiple competing priorities, trying to fill positions as quickly as possible while also finding the best candidates in the industry.
Learning to identify your biggest challenges is half the battle. From there, you can devise strategies to counter these challenges, and optimize your strategy to achieve as many goals as possible.
The Biggest Challenges in Hiring
These are some of the biggest challenges faced by hiring teams:
- In some areas, thick competition can create a tight hiring market, providing job seekers with their pick of opportunities. If there’s a boom in your industry, you’ll be listing job opportunities alongside dozens, if not hundreds of contemporaries. With a finite pool of available talent, it becomes harder and harder to stand out. You can compensate for this by making your job offers more attractive or more visible, in multiple different ways. Offering a higher salary or better benefits is simple, but expensive. You could also provide “intangible” benefits like flexible working conditions, or provide an unconventional career path to job seekers.
- Talent and qualifications. Certain industries and certain departments require highly talented, skilled, and experienced individuals; these positions can’t be filled by unqualified candidates. But if there’s a shortage of people with these qualifications, it could take months, or even years, to find someone to fill the gap. You can’t simply manufacture new candidates, but there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of finding one. For example, you could look for less skilled candidates who could grow with your company, providing them with education or onsite experience. You could also look for remote candidates in a broader range of locations.
- Timing and pressure. It often takes time to fill a position, but the longer the position is open, the more stress is felt by that department; hiring managers are often under pressure to fill positions as quickly as possible to ease the strain. If you need someone with rare, specific qualifications, this can make your process even more challenging. The best way to handle this situation is to set realistic expectations, and ask the department head in question to consider their priorities. Is it better to get a candidate right away, or take the time required to find the “right” candidate?
- Job posting management. As a hiring manager, you’re probably juggling multiple job openings simultaneously. You’ll be in charge of editing (or even writing) job descriptions, which is a massive task in its own right, then posting those job descriptions on job boards, social media, and multiple other outlets. Keeping track of which positions are open and how long they’ve been open is challenging, as is maintaining accurate, up-to-date listings. Organizational skills can help you make sense of the clutter here, but they can only take you so far. A better long-term solution would be utilizing some kind of central management platform, and/or delegating different job postings to different people.
- Non-hiring tasks. If you work 40 hours a week, how many hours would you estimate you spend focusing on hiring-related tasks? If you’re like most hiring managers, you’re spending the majority of your time in meetings, responding to messages, engaging in conversation, and working on other administrative tasks. If you could eliminate some of these sources of time waste, you could spend much more time and energy on actual hiring.
- Onboarding efficiency. For most hiring managers, choosing the right candidate is just the first step of the process. After that, you’ll need to onboard those candidates. Getting new employees through the introductory processes quickly enough to begin work right away, but thoroughly enough to educate them about the company’s expectations can be quite challenging. Oftentimes, trial and error, along with gradual improvement, is the best way to get better here.
- Retention and long-term plays. Hiring, along with most other departments, functions better with long-term plays. It’s far better to bring on an employee who will stick with the business for many years than to go through employment churn. Optimizing your efforts for good culture fits is the right approach here, even if it takes you a bit longer to find good candidates.
Choosing Your Top Priorities
To be successful in hiring, you need to acknowledge that you probably won’t be able to solve every problem, or hire people that fulfill all your department’s wants and needs. Instead of trying to find perfect fits that accomplish every objective, set your priorities in advance. Which objectives are more important than the others? How can you shift your attention and resources to optimize for these priorities? The more adaptable you are, and the better you balance your resources in this way, the more likely you are to be successful.