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How to secure niche talent in a candidate short market

If you find yourself wondering how to secure niche talent for your company, don’t worry, you are not alone. PwC research shows that 63 percent of global CEOs are concerned about not being able to find employees with the necessary skills and innovative mindsets to fill vacancies. It’s unsurprising that this is such a big concern, as the ‘war for talent’ is felt across many industries. Demand is beginning to outstrip supply for a number of professions — especially for experts with digital skills — and McKinsey estimates that there will be a shortage of about 85 million qualified workers by 2020.

To make matters worse, recruitment agency fees for these specialists can be up to 15-20% of the salary, or a staggering 30% for hard to fill positions. Yes - things have been quite bleak up until this point - however, there are several steps you can take to help you secure top talent in a candidate short market – without being held ransom by staffing agencies.

Shift your mindset and “lower” your standards

We don’t suggest that you actually drop your standards in terms of skills, but perhaps stop looking for the ‘perfect candidate’ as this person likely doesn’t exist and only keeps the vacancy dormant longer than necessary. Moving away from the ‘typical profile’ and giving yourself more flexibility in what core competencies the role requires can be advantageous, as this will allow you to still capture top talent and invest in employees with potential for growth. Leading businesses like Google and Facebook are known to hire based on cultural fit and potential rather than the ‘perfect fit’ on paper.

Open the doors to everyone - explore underutilised talent

Sourcing specialist skills means that you are dipping into a small talent pool, so it is important to explore all available talent. It is easy to fall into a routine of searching for employees from the same university, or company, but this often perpetuates an unnecessary cycle of excluding valuable talent. For example, many of the in-demand roles are currently in digital, fintech and STEM, which have historically been dominated by men, meaning many women were not given a chance to prove their capability. However, recruiting on ability to do the job, rather than specific prior experience, will ensure candidates are treated fairly, and also increase your access to niche skills.

Boost your Employee Value Proposition

As we have written before, a strong employee value proposition (EVP) will help to retain top performers and attract the best external talent. According to Gartner, organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%. Letting potential employees know how they can benefit from your company can be the key difference in why a candidate chooses to work for you instead of a competitor, or what makes a passive job seeker’s ears perk up. Proactively engage potential employees by promoting a compelling EVP on social media, your careers page, and throughout the recruitment process, as this will ensure you are engaging passive candidates without any competition.

How to secure niche talent through an internal talent acquisition team

As mentioned above, securing niche skills in a candidate short market requires quite a lot of leeway, flexibility and creativity in approach. Although recruitment agencies promise to get employees through the door, they are often also known for being rigid and formulaic, which is understandable as they are following a specific brief. An in-house team, however, has the power to control situations and negotiate with internal managers if they identify potential candidates that may not fit the exact job specifications, but at same time, are a perfect cultural match.

Internal hiring teams have a greater understanding of what is needed from the candidate, a more passionate reason to promote the EVP and are positioned best to draw in valuable niche candidates.

For more help with recruiting niche talent for your business through an internal talent acquisition team, get in touch today.