Thousands of candidates viewed your most recent job post — and plenty applied. As you wade through the seemingly endless resumes and profiles, it’s clear you’re getting a tremendous applicant response. The problem? They aren’t the right candidates for the role.

Whether applicants lack the training, years of experience, or simply miss the mark qualification-wise, many organizations are struggling with engaging and activating candidates who match their specific job requirements. For many HR and recruiting leaders, it’s a surprise. In 2020, Canadian unemployment rates rose to record highs, peaking at nearly 14% in May, and countless job seekers flooded the market. Now, though, we’re experiencing the opposite —  with considerably more job openings than there are candidates, finding and hiring top talent is increasingly a challenge.  

If your business is seeing abundant job post traffic and applicants, but still isn’t attracting the right talent, it’s important to pause and identify your specific challenges. Often, this imbalance — getting a solid number of resumes, but still not finding the right talent for the role — is easily remedied by:

  1. defining your “must-haves” and ensuring they are strictly what’s needed for the job.
  2. ensuring your benefits and perks are well-aligned with current industry norms.
  3. promoting your job posts to the right audiences. 

By reviewing each of these potential pitfalls, your teams can identify what could be keeping the right talent from engaging with your posts and ensure you’re finding high-performance candidates every time. To get started, ask yourself: 

1. What is required vs what is desired?

Many industries and roles require significant, specific education, training, and on-the-job experiences. A good example: registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). RNs require a four-year degree in a university nursing program to become a generalist registered nurse, while LPNs must complete a college nursing program that typically takes about two years to complete.

Minimally, it takes two to four years of higher education—and often involves hours of clinical practice in addition to nursing theory. The registration and licensing of RNs and LPNs is regulated by individual provinces and territories, and so the requirements of each province or territory may vary. Nurses in Quebec, for example, may obtain a university degree or have the option of completing a three-year diploma of collegial studies in nursing. Nurses in Ontario, meanwhile, must complete a registration exam and a separate jurisprudence exam by the college where they get their degree, in addition to the degree itself.

Requiring this level of training and certification already limits a candidate pool. In the case of nursing, though, layer on a critical nurse shortage and it’s clear why finding this type of candidate could be a significant challenge. But, if hiring managers add on “nice-to-haves,” such as optional training, additional certifications, and specific scheduling requirements, it limits the potential applicant pool even more. 

Medical hiring managers, though, aren’t the only ones experiencing a lack of qualified candidates. Engineering, high-tech, education, marketing, and other key industries can have significant qualifications tied to even mid- and entry-level roles.

While it’s important to outline the experience, background, certifications, and training required to successfully perform a role, too many “must-haves” may keep even qualified candidates from applying. To overcome this, consider listing only the skills, education, certifications, and experiences that are non-negotiable. Additional preferences — an MBA, for example, or training on more intuitive software and platforms — can be listed as “preferred” qualifications.

Many companies are following this approach. Tesla, Apple, Google, and Netflix don’t require four-year degrees, citing successful business leaders and entrepreneurs who lacked this common qualification. Others have indicated the core skills their organizations require are those colleges and universities typically don’t teach — coding, for example, as well as emerging technologies like AI and machine learning. 

2. Can high-potential talent be trained on certain aspects of the job?

If there are ideal qualifications that aren’t required on day one, consider benefits like on-the-job training or paid upskilling and professional certifications, as needed. With 30% of workers ready to look for a new job that offers better benefits and perks, adding such benefits can drive increased attention to your posts. 

Hiring incentives are becoming increasingly common, so what are the top incentives employers in Canada are using to attract talent?

  • Remote work options 47%
  • Higher starting salaries 46%
  • Signing bonuses 30%
  • Increased paid time off 29% 

Source: Robert Half, 2022 Demand for Skilled Talent report

3. Are you offering what candidates are looking for right now?

It’s also important to consider the “new norms” in your industry and among specific roles or talent pools. For example, while requiring restaurant staff to return to their core workplace, designers, marketers, developers, and operations teams may be able to work from home or adopt flexible work schedules going forward.

Looking at roles you’re struggling to fill, consider benefits like flexibility or, even, an entirely remote schedule, if it’s appropriate. Now more than ever, flexibility is a top priority. More than half of current employees say flexible or hybrid work is more important to them than career progression, and 33% say it’s the most important thing an employer can do to support their mental health. If you have an open role that doesn’t truly require the employee to be in the office — or in the office full time — mandating it will likely reduce your candidate pool. 

“More than half of current employees say flexible or hybrid work is more important to them than career progression, and 33% say it’s the most important thing an employer can do to support their mental health.”

Flexibility, though, is just one example. Different industries and job types have different norms or pervasive priorities that hiring managers should be leaning into to best engage top candidates. Paid sabbaticals, childcare benefits, and even support caring for aging parents can entice top-tier candidates.    

4. Are there other benefits that could be appealing?

Granted, training perks aren’t the only sought-after benefit right now—but perks, in general, are key to getting top talent to consider your organization. 
More and more, competing in today’s market often comes down to thinking outside the traditional benefits box. Seventy-nine percent of HR managers say their company has added new perks as a result of the pandemic. Pet insurance is becoming an increasingly popular benefit requested by employees in Canada. Paid time off, health insurance, retirement savings plans, and dental insurance are the benefits that have become increasingly popular. Flexibility, again, remains one of the most sought-after perks among employees in Canada. 

Enhanced benefits and perks to consider

More and more, companies are offering creative benefits to current and incoming employees. Some enhanced benefits to consider—and promote—to attract and retain top talent include:

  • Gym memberships
  • Extended parental leave 
  • Pet-friendly workplaces 
  • Paid education and training 

All of this said it’s not enough to just have expanded or creative benefits—it’s equally important to promote them. While employers are adding benefits to their offerings, just 4.1% of Indeed job posts in the US reference these added perks. Even if you can’t boost your benefits or perks right now, be sure what you do offer is front and centre in every job post.

5. Are you optimizing your job posts?

Taking a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach with your job posts may mean the right candidates aren’t seeing your message. Using optimization technology like Indeed’s objective-based campaigns can ensure posts align with your goals, including who’s seeing your opportunities.

Using objective-based campaigns, employers can target specific, relevant job seekers, delivering ad placements on and off Indeed. This ensures job posts reach the right candidates with the right skills, even if those candidates don’t initially engage on Indeed. 

Revisit job posts and eliminate any skills, qualifications, or certifications that aren’t 100% essential on day one — and consider on-the-job training to bridge any gaps. At the same time, review your benefits and perks to ensure you’re in-step with — or better yet, competitive with — other businesses in your industry. From there, consider introducing a short candidate pre-screen and better optimizing your posts to get to the right applicants, faster. 

After gut-checking against each of these key questions, you’ll likely spot areas to optimize and enhance — and, from there, you’ll be better positioned to engage the right talent every time.