Why you can’t fill job vacancies (& what you can do to fix the problem)

We know that finding the right young candidates to fill job vacancies can be a challenging and time-consuming process. 

Despite your best efforts, there may be instances where the position remains open for an extended period, causing frustration and anxiety for both employers and existing staff. 

There can be various reasons for this. It might be a role for example where there is a skills shortage in that field. It might be that your company is located in an area that finds it difficult to attract young candidates. 

And in this fast moving world, it might be a brand new role where knowledge of the latest technological advances in your field is necessary.

What is important to remember is that you are not alone in facing this issue. Many organisations encounter difficulties when trying to attract the perfect candidate for their vacancies. 

In this article, we will explore several effective strategies and solutions to tackle the problem of an unfilled job vacancy.

Reevaluate the job description – Target your intended audience

If that vacancy has remained unfilled for a while, it’s time to look at your job description and maybe take a different route with it. 

As we’ve said in the past, your job ad and job description is really important and you need it to be targeting the right people. Know what Gen Z are looking for and target your job description to them. 

One of the most common reasons for failing to fill a job vacancy is an unclear or unrealistic job description. Start by revisiting the job posting and ensure that it accurately reflects the responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations for the role. 

But also remember young candidates might not have the experience or be familiar with any unnecessary jargon you might have added to the job description. What is familiar to you – someone who has perhaps worked in that field for a number of years – will be completely unfamiliar to a young person with no experience.

Speak to current employees in similar positions to gather insights and fine-tune the description based on their experiences. What is it about the job that they think makes it attractive? If the role doesn’t look attractive in your job description, that vacancy could well remain unfilled.

At the same time, however, remember to keep that job description concise, clear and honest. Don’t make the role promise something which is not going to be delivered. 

And don’t make the description too wordy. You don’t want the best talent slipping through the net because they got bored of reading half way through your ad. Make every sentence count so that it doesn’t take the reader too long to get the important bits and you hook in the young talent you really want to work for you. 

By crafting a comprehensive and attractive job description, you increase the likelihood of attracting candidates who genuinely align with your organisation’s needs.

And it doesn’t have to be all about the written word. Make sure your job description is eye-catching. This can be a great way to appeal to candidates who might have missed your ad the first time round. Use colour and photos and make that job look as appealing as possible.

Some job boards will give you space to add a video, too. If you’ve had that unfilled vacancy for a while, have a short video of other young staff who work in your company talking about the role, why they enjoy working at your company, what they love about the company culture.

You need to sell these unfilled vacancies so that you convince young people to apply. 

Improve your employer branding

We all know the importance of positive employer branding and this needs to be looked at across the board. Even your job ad is an opportunity for you to showcase your company and sell it as a great place to work.

In a competitive job market, a strong employer brand is essential to attract top talent. 

Make sure that your company’s online presence, including the website and social media presence convey a positive and appealing image. Showcase your company culture, employee benefits, and career advancement opportunities to entice potential candidates.

And it isn’t just about how you come across online. When people apply for your roles, make sure you give them effective feedback about why they haven’t been given the job. 

Treating candidates with respect and acknowledging the time and effort they put in in applying for your jobs is a great way to improve your employer branding. It can help you to fill those difficult to fill roles in future if you have a reputation for valuing the time and effort of candidates.  

A well-established employer brand can significantly impact a candidate’s decision to apply for a position within your organisation.

Expand the search

Depending on the type of company you are recruiting to and the roles you are trying to fill, it is usually worth expanding your search by advertising in different places.

In a previous article, we talked about the value of using online job boards for filling your vacancies. These can be especially useful if you are looking for people with particular skills. As well as niche job boards that recruit people who want to work in a particular field, general job boards also offer filter options. This gives you a better chance of filling your vacancy with someone who is the right fit.   

And, of course, don’t forget the power of social media. Young people will have more chance of seeing your vacancies on online platforms.  

Review your application process

Does your application process reflect the role that you are advertising? For example, if you are looking for students to do part time holiday work, this doesn’t necessarily need the same application prıocess as when you are hiring graduates for your graduate programmes. 

Try going through the application process your company is using for the roles you are finding difficult to fill and ask yourself whether or not it matches. It could well be that you are setting the bar too high for the role that you have available and this is leaving the vacancy unfilled.

If your hiring process is too lengthy, complicated, or unorganised, it may deter candidates from pursuing the opportunity. Especially if there are similar roles out there with other companies who are making the process a lot more streamlined. 

Young people, especially recent school leavers, may be daunted by the whole prospect of going through an application process. Design it in such a way that is accessible but that also allows you to choose the best candidates for the role.

Simplify the application process and streamline the interview stages to avoid losing candidates to your competition. 

Consider offering Internships or Work Experience Placements

Is yoır company in a position to be able to offer work experience placements or internships to young people? 

As well as giving them valuable experience of the workplace, it also gşves you the chance to spot yoıng talent before the competitğon does. These young people can be the ones who fill those vacancies that you are struggling to fill. 

In certain cases, filling an open job vacancy might be challenging due to a shortage of skilled candidates with specific qualifications. Offering internships can be an effective solution to bridge this gap. Internships provide valuable experience for candidates and allow you to identify potential future employees within your organisation. 

If an intern displays exceptional skills and fits well into the company culture, you can extend a full-time offer after the internship period.

Likewise with those young people who might be doing work experience for you. Depending on the nature of the role, you could offer them a full time position by way of an Apprenticeship once they leave school or further education.

If you can build up a good reputation for investing in young people by offering internships, work experience and then future employment, this will give your employer branding a positive boost. And you could find that next time you have vacancies to fill, you have lots of candidates applying for the roles. 

Offer competitive compensation and benefits

Are you paying your staff enough? That was a question we asked in a previous article. 

It depends on the role you are offering and, if you are a small or medium sized enterprise, you might not be able to compete with the bigger companies when it comes to financial reward for work done.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t attract young people to your roles. Gen Z are looking for jobs that can give them long term security. A fair salary that might not necessarily match that of bigger companies can still be attractive to younger people if you can offer alternative types of compensation and benefits that demonstrate they are a valued employee.

Compensation and benefits play a crucial role in attracting top talent. If you are struggling to fill a job vacancy, consider evaluating your compensation packages and benchmark them against industry standards. 

Make your salaries as competitive as possible, offer health benefits like gym membership or informal fitness clubs with other staff members.

Opportunities for staff to work remotely have also become increasingly popular. This can be a great benefit for staff and it can also benefit you as an employer for filling vacancies as it gives you access to young people all around the UK and, indeed, in other parts of the world. 

Invest in staff development

One of the things young people are looking for when applying for jobs is the opportunity for growth and development. Investing in this can help you to fill vacancies in the future. 

For young school leavers, an Apprenticeship can be a great way to start on this growth ladder. Graduate programmes, in house training and opportunities to attend courses outside of the workplace can all go a lıng way to keeping staff engaged and motivated. This can boost your staff retention and reduce the amount of job vacancies you need to fill.

Again, if you have built up a reputation as an employer who invests in staff and invests in their growth and development, future vacancies should be filled quickly because young people will want to be a part of your company. 

Start filling those vacancies

Filling an open job vacancy may seem daunting, especially if the position has been vacant for some time, but with the right strategies and solutions, it is possible to overcome this challenge. 

Use the tips offered in this article to give your vacancy-filling a kickstart. A good, clear job description that is eye-catching. A video can also be a great way to attract a younger audience. A streamlined, organised and simple application process should give young people more confidence when applying for your roles. 

And, over the longer term, build that company branding and a strong, positive reputation for investing in your staff and you could find that you are filling your vacancies with ease in the future.