12 Top Tips For Filling Those Hard To Fill Roles

Whatever type of company you work for or are recruiting for, there are always those roles that are difficult to fill. It might be a role that is difficult to retain the staff for once you do fill it or it might be a role where you just can’t get enough applicants or the right type of applicants with the relevant qualifications or experience.

If you are a charity, an NGO or an SME, you might struggle to fill your vacancies simply because you find it difficult to compete with larger firms in terms of salary. For charities and NGOs, in particular, you need to be able to hook those people with a genuine passion for your cause or for the work your organisation carries out. How do you go about seeking those people and hooking them in?

And then, of course, there are the highly specialised or technical roles. Roles requiring a strength in STEM subjects are particularly hard to fill for many companies. In some cases, especially in the world of technology, these are roles that might not even have existed a few years ago. As technology changes and advances, so does the role you are recruiting for.

In an increasingly fast moving world, your recruitment strategies also have to be fast moving so that you can attract the best quality applicants for your vacancies that are hard to fill. For many of your recruitment strategies it could just be case of taking the ones you already have in place and tweaking them slightly so that they are brought right into line with what applicants might be looking for.

Let’s take a look at some ideas you can employ for attracting applicants to those hard to fill roles. It’s all about thinking strategically and really targeting your marketing to those applicants.

Invest in young people

At E4S, we are all about young people and, the good news for you is that investing in young people is a great way to get those hard to fill roles filled. If you can attract young people to your company and invest in their development you have a very good chance of keeping their loyalty for quite some time.

There are different methods you can employ for tapping into young talent. Depending on the nature of your company some methods could be more effective than others. Are you in a position to implement any of these strategies:

  • Job shadowing – this gives young people the opportunity to see for themselves how the workplace operates and what staff do on a day to day basis. If they like what they see, they could be attracted to applying for a paid role.
  • Work experience programmes – this is not about taking on a young person for a week or two and using them to make a cup of tea for your team. Having a meaningful programme in place where young people can assist on real projects means you can assess whether or not they would be a good fit for your company.
  • Workshops – Could you organise any workshops where young people – school children or students – could visit your company and take part in mini projects designed to give them experience of the type of work your company does?
  • Internships – These allow students to take part in, and sometimes lead, projects. They gain valuable work experience and you get to see if that person would be a good fit for your company.
  • Employing entry level graduates – There are many graduates out there who have little or no work experience. This doesn’t mean they lack talent and they could be a perfect match for your hard to fill role. If this role is of a nature where you could train them up then this can also be an effective strategy.
  • Student jobs – Offering part time or seasonal work to students can encourage them to be loyal to your co0mpany and perhaps apply for roles on graduation. Again, you also get the chance to see whether they would be a good match for your company.
  • Go out into schools and colleges – Getting your name out there and marketing yourself is a good way to attract future applicants. Can you go out into schools and colleges and give talks or perhaps run a lesson that could make young people more aware of career paths they might not have considered.
  • Apprenticeships – Offering Apprenticeships not only mean you are investing in young people, but it means they can receive structured training and qualifications in your hard to fill role. Depending on the age of your Apprentice, you will also receive some financşal assistance.
  • Can colleges and universities adapt their courses so that students are learning relevant skills for your workplace? Some companies are in a position to work closely with colleges and universities so that course can become more relevant and stuıdents are better prepared for the workplace on graduation.

Location, Location, Location

Where is your organisation based? You could be having problems filling those hard to fill roles because there is a shortage of people who live in the local area who have the skills to match the needs of your firm.

Is your company in a position to offer a relocation package and other incentives to attract candidates from elsewhere in the UK. Graduates are often expecting to have to relocate to begin their graduate careers so they may already be open to the idea of moving to a new town or city.

The advantage of targeting graduates and young people is that they are less likely to be already settled in a particular area with a family, for example. Many students are at universities in towns and cities other than the ones where they grew up so the idea of moving away from home isn’t so daunting. Assisting them with travel costs or finding accommodation could help you attract the applicants with the skills you are looking for.

Staff referrals

Using your existing staff to find the best candidates for your hard to fill roles can also prove to be effective. If you have recruited graduates or Apprentices who have those hard to find skills, then chances are they are going to know someone else with that same skill set.

Especially for graduates who have done degrees in specialised subjects, they might know people from their course who would be a good fit for your vacancy. Offering incentives for successful referrals encourages your existing staff to generate ideas for applicants who would benefit your company.

Putting yourself out there online

What does your website say to people? Is it stagnant or do you have regular, quality content going on there? Does it show all the exciting projects you work on? Have you got young staff on there telling others why your company is such a great place to work? Is it linked to your social media accounts so that YouTube videos are embedded or latest tweets are visible? having good content on your website

You need your website for branding – not just to sell your products or services but to also sell the idea of working there to young people. You can also sell your company culture via your website. Community projects you might have been involved in. Having a good online presence is essential.

Putting yourself out there, physically

Make sure people know about your company and the work you do. Be present at exhibitions both locally and, if possible, nationally. Take part in conferences and get involved in local community projects.One of the main things that attracts young people to companies is the work they do for community projects. Get involved in environmental initiatives, sponsor a local amatueur sports team, contribute to youth clubs.

Having a presence in the community can help you get those difficult to fill roles filled.

Target those job ads

If you are advertising your vacancy with E4S, is your job ad really targeting the people you need to fill that role? As well as drilling down with the job description, does that ad also brand your company as a great place to work? Does it make your product or service look the part? Job ads are an ad for your company as well as an ad for your vacancy.

Be the workplace where young people want to be and those applications could start rolling in for those hard to fill positions.

With regards to the job itself, is your job ad recruiting for the right role? Dissect your job ad and make sure those who read it are applying for your actual vacancy for so you are not wasting your time with the wrong candidates. For example, is the job ad right up to date, taking into account any changes in the role? This is especially the case for IT and and other technical roles where the technology and nature of the job is changing all the time.

Make sure salaries and perks are competitive

I have written about the challenges SMEs can face when it comes to recruitment and often, if you are an SME, you might be struggling to compete with salaries offered by larger companies. However, there other ways of appealing to younger people other salary.

Whatever type of company you are, check out the salaries and perks other similar companies are offering when they are trying to attract people to those hard to fill vacancies. If you can’t match or beat the salary, what alternatives can you offer? For example, you might be in a position to offer time out to work from home or to do flexible hours. Or you might be able to offer time off for major sporting events.

If you need to get creative, get creative. Ask your existing younger staff what would attract them to apply for roles.

Can the skills be taught?

Many times, employers will be looking to employ experienced staff or people with the relevant skills for the job. If you have a hard to fill role, what is the nature of it? Can the skills needed to perform the role be taught in the workplace or on courses?

You might be able to recruit someone young and inexperienced if you feel they will match the culture of your company and then you can train them on the job. And, as mentioned above, if you invest in young people by offering training and development, this can boost your staff retention as they are more likely to remain loyal to your company. You also get the opportunity to train that person specifically for that role.

Is it possible to broaden your search?

When you are recruiting for your company, it can be easy to get caught up in looking for people with particular types of work experience. Depending on the role you are recruiting for take a look at your job ad and ask yourself if your criteria is too narrow?

Look at all of the skills that are really necessary for your role and ask yourself whether young people from other backgrounds could fill the role effectively. Sometimes, transferable skills picked up in other roles are just as relevant as skills specific to the job you are advertising. Could you reword your job ad so that more people can be tempted to apply for those difficult to fill roles? This will give you more people to choose from.

Do you really understand the challenges of the role?

If it is a role that you have recruited for many times and the staff keep leaving, what is the problem? As an employer, this is where you need to be honest with yourself and take a look at the problem. Ask your staff and management teams what they think the problem may be, too.

Is the job too difficult for the salary that’s being offered? Is the job description in your ad unclear – applicants expecting something else from the role? Perhaps the staff needs are not being met if it is a demanding role – offering regular breaks or time out for challenging roles, for example? When it comes to this particular hard to fill role, do you take enough time to find and hire the right person or are you just painting over the cracks and recruiting just about anyone who applies?

Offer support and training and development for the hard to fill role

Make sure the staff you employ know that you are going to invest in them and their role by making sure they have the opportunity to attend relevant courses, training, exams, qualifications and membership of professional bodies, where applicable.

Make sure it’s a positive application process and interview

I’ve written in the past about the importance of interviews and how you can use them to brand your company.

Even if you interview a candidate and you don’t offer them the role, make sure the application and interview process is positive for the candidate so that they have a positive impression of your company. People talk and the interview process could boost or damage your reputation. Offer feedback as to why your candidate wasn’t successful on this occasion and this can encourage more people to apply for your hard to fill roles in the future. Applicants know you have valued their time.

These are just a few tips on strategies you could use to help you fill your hard to fill roles. Investing your time into young people could really pay dividends in the future. Job boards are a great way to advertise your vacancies. If you have a role that is difficult to fill, why not place an ad with us at E4S and target some of the best young talent around the UK.