Ask us – I’m struggling to recruit

I’ve advertised a job vacancy on job boards for 3 months now but I’m not getting any applications of any quality. What else can I do?


As the economy improves and unemployment falls, the labour market is definitely favouring employees so they can be choosier and make higher demands than they could say 3 years ago.


Attracting employees is not necessarily about offering more money. More and more we are seeing employees wanting to align themselves with the purpose of an organisation or to achieve a better work/life balance through a flexible approach to hours and location.


Start by researching and benchmarking yourself against your labour market competitors – these are not necessarily your commercial competitors but any other employers that are looking for the same talent as you. If they are offering more than you (both financial and non-financial benefits), you’ll need to consider how you can set yourself apart. This can be done by:


  • Ensuring pay is competitive. If you cannot afford to do this, you’ll need to identify, implement and promote alternative non-financial rewards for working for you.
  • Being an employer of choice – check out our post on this
  • If you can accommodate flexible working – shout about this; it may entice someone back into the labour market or away from a less flexible employer


Next consider the advertising of your vacancy:

  • Are job boards targeting people with the knowledge, skills and experience you need – or do you need to consider specialist publications and/or websites.
  • Do you need to cast your net wider than your local press to let potentially appropriate applicants know about it? Technology and inexpensive travel allows remote working and flexibility so you don’t necessarily need someone locally.
  • Have you used your networks? Tell them what you are looking for. A personal recommendation has a much better chance leading to a successful applicant. Don’t forget your network can be industry specific group meetings or online forums and can include LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
  • However you promote your vacancy, give headlines of what you need and what you can offer in return to attract applicants.


If these do not create results it could be that what you are looking for is in very short supply. In this case you need to consider a compromise:


  • Maybe take on an applicant that does not have the full knowledge/skills/experience and invest in training for them
  • Consider this skills shortage for the long term and ‘grow your own’ with a training programme
  • Buy in the gap that you cannot recruit for using agencies, self-employed contractors, secondments etc
  • Restructure your workforce to change roles in line with the talent you already have and the new talent you are able to attract


Don’t forget that once you do find someone, you’ll need an effective induction and performance management process to ensure your recruit is engaged and you get the best out of them. We hope some of these strategies help. Good luck!

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