Talent scarcity: Creative alternatives when job applicants are hard to find

Does your company find itself struggling to keep up on the talent acquisition front? If so, you’re not alone. Despite a somewhat hectic job market where many companies struggle to find qualified talent while others are experiencing large-scale layoffs, the general trend remains that good candidates are hard to find, and jobs are taking longer than expected to fill. In times of “tight” labor markets like these where scarcity is the norm, it becomes critical to identify new sources or funnels of potential talent. The following are some possibilities that might work well for your organization in this current post-COVID reintegration phase.

Look first to build out your talent acquisition program locally

Sometimes the greatest resources are hiding in plain sight, right in your own neighborhood or community. Refer to the list below to see what, if any, local resources might make for strong additions to your recruitment outreach strategy:

1. Employee referral programs incentivize your existing employees to refer friends and associates for a limited referral fee (e.g., $500 or $1,000).

2. Career fairs (internal) highlight hiring departments and open positions, and incentivize career development and cross-training for existing staff members.

3. Career fairs (external) profile your organization in the community. They also provide you with an opportunity to give back by offering interview and résumé-writing workshops.

Hiring for Attitude D

4. School partnerships, especially with trade or specialty schools, offer certifications rather than a formal degree. Offer to guest lecture on hiring and career strategies to build a stronger bond with the school.

5. Retiree and boomerang approaches to rehiring former employees or those community members early in retirement who may be looking to return to work in a limited capacity demonstrate goodwill and potentially unconventional talent sources.

6. Community action agencies, civil rights organizations and church groups often help employers reach inner-city or disadvantaged residents looking for work.

7. Intern or externship programs with community colleges and universities build a talent pipeline for current or recent graduates. Consider hosting or sponsoring an event or competition among schools in your line of work.

8. Specialty organizations like MedCerts.com provide personalized, short-term online career training to get nationally recognized certifications and credentials in areas like health care and IT.

Look to boutique job boards next to cast your recruitment net more broadly

First, big job boards like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Zip Recruiter, Simply Hired, Monster and Dice (for technical computer talent), among others, may have challenges identifying the volume of talent needed for today’s many employment openings. While job boards will likely remain “first stops” for companies with job postings, employers are turning to new boutique websites for their recruitment outreach efforts, which likewise serve their diversity and inclusion needs. Boutique job boards that you might want to consider include:













The Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network is an excellent source for identifying job candidates with disabilities. Today, underrepresented ethnic groups account for 30 percent of the total U.S. population. By 2060, they are expected to reach 60 percent of the population. These groups have historically been overlooked but have a growing amount of buying power. As such, a diverse talent pool increases the range of human capital available to your organization, while also better reflecting the buying habits of a more diverse consumer base.

Further, social media sites like LinkedIn and Instagram will continue to expand their outreach for professional-level and creative candidates. Be sure to purchase a LinkedIn license or apply for résumé-sourcing capabilities so your recruitment or operational management team can reach candidates proactively, even if they’re not currently in the active job market. Set your recruitment budget for the next quarter or year by exploring new sources of potential talent providers and funnels. Some will work better than others, but you won’t know until you try different options. Note that a recruitment advertising agency may make sense as well to help you with your ad placement strategy.

Finally, build a buddy onboarding program to ensure a safer transition for new hires to make it through their first three or six months (where so much turnover typically happens). Talent acquisition and retention remain a living, breathing part of your organizational culture. It also spells your long-term success, as talent remains a company’s primary profit lever. Keep in mind that talent acquisition is not a temporary crisis—it will underscore your organization’s trajectory for years to come.

Accommodating families

If your organization offers any family-friendly benefits, advertise them broadly in your recruitment advertising campaigns and internal employee referral programs, especially those designed to be mutually advantageous to career-oriented working mothers and their children. This may include alternative career paths, extended leave, flextime, job sharing, relaxed dress codes, summer hours and remote work. Some organizations provide take-home meals for those working overtime, subsidize babysitting or offer job-finding assistance for spouses of employees who are relocated.

Requiring workers to shut off their mobile devices after hours is another perk that organizations are increasingly giving to their employees. All help recipients balance career and family. All square with Gen Y and Gen Z’s desire for greater work-life-family balance and control. And all will set you apart from your competition in terms of appealing to qualified applicants who may have multiple offers to choose from.

—From Paul Falcone’s newest book, The First-Time Manager: Leading Through Crisis (HarperCollins Leadership, 2023)