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Tips for Finding Talent in a Limited Applicant Pool

June 28, 2013

By: Carletta Clyatt

After years of financial and growth gloom and doom, things may be looking up for business owners and job-seekers, alike. According to a recent Manpower survey, 22% of U.S. Employers are planning to add staff this year. This is a four-year high.

If you are among the 22% ready to make the leap, congratulations! These lucky employers have the task of sorting through a large pile of qualified candidates to find the perfect one. That might seem like a stressful prospect, but the alternative may be worse. Companies in sparsely populated areas or very specialized businesses may be looking at sifting through a minuscule pile of marginally qualified job candidates just to find someone “good enough.”

Whether you are way out in the boonies or are the only place on the East Coast engineering shprockets for doohickies, you may feel like pulling your hair out trying to find a good person (or ANY person) to complete your team.

Mining talent in your industry or area might take a little more creativity and tenacity, but it is possible. Here are some tips to increase your odds of locating Ms. or Mr. Right (instead of Ms. or Mr. You’ll-Do-I-Guess).

    Location location location: After creating your job ad, (carefully crafted to attract the right job candidate!) consider where you will post it. In rural areas, plan to expand your advertising region to include any major towns or cities, even if they are not that close by. Job-hunters in remote places generally plan and expect to commute or even relocate to find work. If your industry is specialized, advertise in trade publications and websites related to your business. Qualified candidates and recent grads also expect to relocate to stay within their chosen field.

    Speaking of geography… If the scope of work can be done via computer, you may be able to disregard location entirely and hire a remote employee, giving you access to top talent around the world while saving money on overhead! This could be a little more challenging, because of logistics and varying HR laws from state to state, but it will expand your skilled applicant pool substantially!

    Network: Ask people you respect if they are looking for a career change or if they know someone who is.  They may not have the background you need, but you can vouch for their character.

    On that note: Hire the personality/behaviors you want. Ok, so none of your applicants have your requested 5 year history playing the glockenspiel, but can they show that they are smart, resourceful, hardworking and reliable? If so, you can train them to be anything else you need (it’s possible I am underestimating the complexity of playing the glockenspiel, but you get my point). Consider employee behavioral assessments to match a candidate’s personality traits to  your position and company culture.

    On the job training/internships/apprenticeships: With a little extra time and planning, you can educate a not-yet-skilled candidate to be exactly what you need. Hire someone looking to transition into your field, and use the first few months to coach them into becoming your ideal employee. Hire at a reasonable salary, and increase it gradually as the person progresses. Bonus: You won’t have to unteach another employer’s bad habits.

    Your own back yard: Besides you, nobody knows your business better than the people who are there already. Now may be the time to offer growth and training opportunities to your loyal personnel. You can still hire new, you may just need to juggle tasks so the new person can take over more entry-level functions.

    Need help creating a job posting, selecting interview questions, screening applicants or even coaching current employees?

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group. She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. For more information about employee behavioral assessments, call Carletta at 813-280-3026 or email:

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