Filling challenging roles can be a daunting task, but we’ve gathered insights from industry professionals to help you succeed. From using referrals, universities and employer image to headhunting from the competitive market, these experts share their top recruitment strategies for finding the perfect candidate.

Use Referrals, Universities and Employer Image

For difficult positions, asking current employees for referrals and using your existing network are also effective strategies. Employee referrals are a great way to increase diversity and quality in your application pool, as well as speed up the hiring process

In order to entice top talent, you must build and maintain a solid image as an employer. Highlight the advantages and benefits of working for the company, as well as the organization’s mission, principles and culture.

Finding fresh talent, especially in specialized fields, at universities and colleges, is a terrific idea. Companies frequently publicize job openings through career fairs, events and other university-sponsored activities to attract students and recent graduates.

Aleksandar Ginovski
Career Expert, Resume Expert and Product Manager, Enhancv

Offer Growth Opportunities

It is difficult to find the right person to fill a challenging role. Offer them a future as well. This made all the difference to us. We are upfront about the role challenge and show that we create new positions for people in these roles to advance. Employees must have room to grow. We have increased retention by 16% by focusing on this.

Rick Berres
Owner, Honey-Doers

Connect With Specialized Recruiters

One recruitment strategy that I have used successfully to fill challenging roles is to establish relationships with industry-specific recruiters. By engaging with recruiters who have a deep understanding of the role and industry, I have had outstanding success in finding qualified candidates who have the right skill set and industry experience to fill the role. By leveraging these recruiters, I have been able to identify and hire top talent quickly and in a timely manner.

Span Chen
Growth Director, Notta

Gain Insights From Behavioral Assessments

One recruitment strategy that has consistently yielded success in filling challenging roles is the utilization of behavioral assessments. According to a report by the Aberdeen Group, companies that use pre-hire assessments are 36% more likely to be satisfied with their new hire’s performance.

At our company, we use a scientifically validated behavioral assessment tool to assess the candidates’ cognitive abilities, personality traits, and work styles. This enables us to gain insight into the candidates’ potential job performance, culture fit and team dynamics

For example, we recently had a hard-to-fill sales leadership role that required someone with exceptional negotiation skills, strategic thinking, and leadership qualities. By using a behavioral assessment tool, we could identify the candidate who possessed these critical traits and hire them with confidence. Within six months, this new hire led the team to achieve a 20% increase in sales, exceeding our expectations.

Himanshu Sharma
CEO and Founder, Academy of Digital Marketing

Implement an Employee Referral System

Job seekers are often told to activate their network as a key step in finding their ideal role, and the same is true of companies looking for ideal employees. The professionals on your team have their own professional networks, which can include both active and passive job seekers you may not connect with through job search marketplaces or other company-wide channels.

A robust employee referral system makes your entire team into potential recruiters scouting out potential top talent. Employees also have a vested interest in referring high-quality employees.

Not only does the performance of people they refer reflect on them, but they also need to work side-by-side with them after they’re hired, so they’re unlikely to recommend someone who is toxic, can’t perform the role well or will otherwise make their lives difficult.

Jon Hill
Chairman and CEO, The Energists

Attract Top Talent Through Social Media

For me, harnessing the power of social media platforms has been a successful recruitment strategy for filling challenging roles. By strategically using platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and professional industry groups, we connect with highly qualified candidates who possess the specific skills and expertise needed.

This approach expands our talent pool, engages passive job seekers and showcases our organization’s unique opportunities and culture. Through proactive networking and targeted outreach, we attract top talent to fill our challenging roles.

Ben McInerney
Director, Go Tree Quotes

Employ Recruitment Marketing

Recruitment marketing is a strategy that helps you build, promote, and share employer brand values and vision with potential candidates. It involves creating targeted employer brand messaging and promoting it using various channels, such as social media, job boards and career fairs.

Drafting precise job descriptions, and showcasing company culture, benefits, and employee testimonials can attract ideal candidates to a challenging position. By using recruitment marketing, you can get ahead of competitors, reach out to the best candidates and, ultimately, fill even the most challenging roles.

Jefferson McCall
Co-Founder and HR Head, TechBullish

Build Your Employer Brand

Often, roles are challenging to fill because you’re competing with other employers for a limited pool of qualified talent. In these situations, it isn’t enough to find people who have the skills for the role—you also need to entice them to join your team and make it clear to them what benefits you offer as an employer.

This doesn’t just mean the benefits and compensation package you offer, either. You want them to see the aspects of your culture, work environment, and mission that will make them want to be a part of your company.

Building your employer brand on social media makes it easy for potential candidates to research these aspects of your workplace and learn why they should choose your role over the others they’re considering, and that can get the right person into a hard-to-fill role.

Archie Payne
CEO, CalTek Staffing

Use Networking Events for Talent

One recruitment strategy that I have used successfully to fill challenging roles is building talent pipelines through networking events. Rather than only relying on job postings and recruiting firms, we focus on building relationships with potential candidates through industry-specific networking events.

We identify and attend events where top talent in our industry is likely to be present, and we leverage these events to engage with potential hires. By doing so, we can build a talent pipeline of highly qualified candidates who are already familiar with our brand and culture, and who are more likely to be a strong fit for the roles we need to fill.

Basana Saha
Founder, KidsCareIdeas

Practice Proactive Outreach and Faster Hiring

I proactively reached out to local candidates on the FindWRK platform via text and email the same day they asked about the role. All nine candidates who were extended interview offers replied, with most of them replying in under nine minutes.

I’ve found that proactively reaching out to candidates who have signed up for candidate databases improves the response times and reply rates compared to candidates who are smashing the apply button on job boards. Streamlining the hiring cycle to one week has performed better than cycles lasting three to four weeks.

Matt Parkin
Business Development Lead, FindWRK

Collaborate With Industry Influencers

As someone who is tasked with filling tech roles, I have dealt with my fair share of hard-to-fill roles. For example, one client, a startup in the geoengineering field, needed to fill the role of network engineer and after 52 days of actively headhunting and scouting, we still couldn’t find a suitable candidate.

What finally yielded results involved us reaching out to an industry influencer (won’t mention their name here) and partnering with them to spread the word about the position we wanted to fill, including the requirements for the ideal candidate.

The influencer search platform, SocialBook, was helpful in helping to identify suitable tech industry influencers who played an important role in aiding us to find just the candidate we were looking for. It wasn’t the cheapest strategy, but it was definitely a win-win for everyone, providing solid ROI. It’s a strategy I would recommend for other recruiters to try.

Joe Coletta
Founder and CEO, 180 Engineering

Headhunt From the Competitive Market

In my experience, the best (and quickest) way to fill challenging roles is by headhunting people directly from the competitive market, rather than waiting for people to apply. This involves mapping the market to see who is currently performing this role in each competitor and reaching out to them directly to entice them to have a conversation with your client. Typically, these challenging roles are filled by candidates who are not actively looking for a new role

Stephanie White
Director, EC1 Partners