Hiring for niche skills is understandably more complicated and competitive, and lasts longer than other hiring cycles. According to Randstad’s 2017 Talent Trends Report, 81% of businesses feel they will be hit by the ‘lack of skilled candidates in the market’ within the next 12 months. Besides the obviously smaller talent pool in the case of niche skills, businesses often lack the knowledge and processes needed to hire for such positions. This is because: not only are some of these niche jobs newly created but they also render traditional sourcing methods irrelevant. The result? A higher time to fill – a key performance indicator for 28% of recruiters worldwide - according to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends Report 2015. However, not everything is bleak when it comes to these hard-to-fill positions. HR experts believe that changing the way organisations view, acquire, and deploy talent can go a long way in accelerating their search for niche skills. Here are five ways to do it right:
1. shun the ‘perfect fit’ mindset and reassess your positions
Hiring managers must realize that niche talent may not actually be a ‘perfect fit’ on paper. For instance, if a chemical manufacturing firm is looking for a social media manager, direct experience in a chemical manufacturing setup need not be a primary criteria. A candidate having social media management expertise across industries may actually be a better fit as he/she will bring in a fresh perspective, in addition to best practices and learnings from other domains. London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital is a perfect example of out-of-the-box thinking in recruitment. The hospital leveraged the expertise of Ferrari’s Formula One Pit Stop team to improve its intensive care patient handover process, bringing down process errors from 30% to 10%.
2. prepare for talent mobilisation:
The dynamics of work are changing rapidly, thanks to the movement and engagement of workers across the world, as geographical barriers break down in an app-driven marketplace. This means organisations must requalify processes and search for niche talent in a global talent pool – and not limit themselves to a particular geographical area. Another key prerequisite is to know what your niche talent looks like – their desires/preferences/habits and where they reside virtually, so you can use the right channels to find them.
3. use freelancers to drive specialised initiatives:
When looking to fill niche, time sensitive or project based positions, leveraging the burgeoning freelance marketplace could be your best bet. Besides the compelling value of a micro-niche skill set they bring, freelancers can come on board within a very short period, helping you quickly scale up and reduce time to fill. 70% of respondents in Randstad’s 2017 Talent trends Report said utilising freelancers is positively impacting their business. To make sure you don’t lose the best freelancers to your competition, consider offering them a longer contract/permanent position/ flexible working when their short-term contract ends. A managed recruitment services provider (MSP) can provide the right support and guidance in integrating freelancers into your long-term talent strategy.
4. gather the right intelligence to counter your competition:
There’s no doubt that your competitors are looking for the same niche skills as you. How do you stand out enough to attract, engage, and retain the right talent? 71% of HR leaders bank on analytics to do the job – real time business and market insights viewed from a centralized analytics dashboard helps talent leaders take nimble decisions about resourcing needs, potential issues, etc. Analytics tools also help businesses combine historical data with current market scenarios to predict future trends and patterns, helping them prepare ahead for changes in the niche talent landscape.
5. network well to find niche talent:
The importance of networking cannot be overstated for those operating in niche fields – both job seekers and recruiters. Attend or host relevant industry events and proactively look for networking opportunities – there is no better way to reduce time to fill than coming face-to-face with potential candidates. Networking is a two-way exchange of value that should be a critical part of your niche talent sourcing strategy, if you want to reach out to the right people without wasting time.
Are you effectively selling your niche job opportunities?
A critical element that prevents companies from sourcing the right niche talent quickly is their inability to clearly articulate their value proposition. Candidates with niche skills are often in high demand and if you don’t effectively communicate what value working with you could add to their portfolio, you risk losing them. Take the time to understand what motivates candidates with niche skills – ability to lead from the front, contributing beyond work, flexible hours, or whatever else - and build a customised strategy to attract and retain them.