6 Effective Recruitment Strategies for Hard-to-Fill Positions

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Posted by: David Garcia April 22, 2022

We’ve all heard about those positions that attract hundreds of applications, but what about those hard-to-fill positions that receive far fewer?

Sometimes, a vacancy is down to a lack of interest in the position. But increasingly, we are seeing a skills gap that leaves many organizations struggling to fill positions that would have had countless applicants ten years ago.

The current job market further exacerbates this situation, where the number of jobs available is up, but the number of people applying is falling. We are in an applicant’s market now. Also, recent years have seen a rise in up-skilling, making certain positions even harder to cover.

But all is not lost. With the right recruitment strategy and some techniques to revamp your job listing campaigns, there’s no reason why your business can’t fill those hard-to-fill positions and do so quickly with an excellent applicant.

What Is a Hard-to-Fill Position?

A hard-to-fill position is any vacancy recruiters have trouble staffing over a sustained period. It might seem logical to blame the current situation entirely on the Covid-19 pandemic, but the truth is, some sectors have had difficulties recruiting for years now.

If a position sits open for longer than a month, it’s unlikely to be filled within three months. The vacancy period is a measure of whether a position is hard to fill.

What Makes a Position Hard To Fill?

Several factors create hard-to-fill positions, including diminishing skillsets, geography, and economic conditions.

Some hard-to-fill positions are down to societal changes as we pivot towards different industries than previous generations. Many specialized jobs that were popular 30 years ago are now not as desired and almost impossible to fill with a perfect-fit candidate.

While many sectors are experiencing problems, food service, education, childcare, elderly care, cleaning, and construction have been some of the hardest hit. Specialized trades such as mechanics, ironworkers, and carpenters also have experienced significant shortages.

Economic conditions also play a significant role in creating hard-to-fill roles. The impact has never been as apparent in recent history as now, with the world still see-sawing as it attempts to come to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic. With falling wages, rising inflation, and general dissatisfaction over working practices, it’s becoming harder to convince people to take those difficult-to-fill positions.

Finally, location is another influencing factor. Rural jobs tend to attract fewer applicants, and even agricultural sectors are seeing a concerning labor shortage.

It’s not just physically demanding jobs, though. One of the outcomes of the pandemic has been a rising demand for remote work, and positions that don’t offer remote or at least flexible scheduling may also struggle to staff vacancies.

How Do You Recruit for Hard-to-Fill Roles?

Recruiting for hard-to-fill roles may present unavoidable challenges for HR departments, but understanding the problem and establishing a clear and defined strategy can mitigate, if not overcome, the issue.

Use the steps below to recruit for your hard-to-fill job and make it more enticing to applicants.

1. Create Your Plan

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes is not having a hiring plan. Many still assume that simply putting a position on LinkedIn and other employment websites is enough. However, as we’ve seen, this won’t necessarily help you fill those hard-to-fill positions.

Before you rush out and start placing job advertisements on every job search forum, take a moment to flesh out your plan before moving forward.

Consider why you may be having problems filling the position and what you could do to address it. This assessment is an excellent time to evaluate your current hiring process and find opportunities for improvement.

2. Tailor the Job Description

A job description is vitally important to attract the best talent, yet too many hiring managers rely on the cut and paste method involving long outdated job descriptions. What may have appealed to applicants ten years ago is almost certainly not as attractive in 2022.

Everything from the content to the language is critical and will almost certainly have a bearing on how many applications you receive and their quality. It’s important to be compelling, inclusive, and truthful when describing a job position.

One often-overlooked point is the benefit of involving current employees in writing the job description. Your workers know the ins and outs of the position, and they may be better placed to describe the job than a distant third-party recruiter.

3. Build Your Social Media Presence

Yes, we know the old ‘build your social media presence’ mantra seems a little tired at this point, but as long as social media continues to play an influential role in our lives, it’s essential to keep up.

Platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram already feel like they’ve been around for decades. Still, they continue to play a vital role in hiring and representing the company’s brand and work culture.

By continuously updating your company’s social media accounts with photos and videos that show what it’s like to work with the company, you present a more appealing and approachable face that prospective employees will gravitate towards, especially younger ones.

4. Expand Your Search

The days of posting a job position on a single website and awaiting the flood of applicants are now long gone. Limiting the scope of your search is a sure-fire way of making filling a hard-to-fill job even harder.

Try to extend your search as far as possible by taking advantage of existing job posting websites. Use newer forms of job advertising such as Facebook and Twitter and some more typical methods, such as Craig’s List, Upwork, and university job boards.

When it comes to hard-to-fill positions, the wider you can cast your net, the better. Yes, it will take a little more work on your part, but the reward of finding the perfect candidate is worth the extra hour or two it takes.

5. Go Niche 

Advertising on traditional, well-trodden platforms works if you know that you’re advertising for a job with plenty of available applicants. But what about those specialized positions?

Finding the perfect specialized applicant can be nearly impossible, but the search is even more challenging when looking in the wrong place. If you need a highly-qualified candidate or somebody with a particular set of skills, try to put yourself in their shoes and think about where they might be spending their time, both online and in the real world.

Forums are always a good place to start here but also think about niche communities, special interest sites, and targeted job portals. If you want to seek traditional routes, consider magazines targeted at a specific audience and find out whether they ever advertise job postings.

It might seem like a toss-up in whether this approach will work. Still, sometimes you need to go niche when looking for a person with a specialized skillset.

6. Offer a Competitive Benefits Package

Another painfully undervalued factor today is the benefit of a good salary and work package.

We know that times haven’t exactly been easy in the last couple of years. Still, among the prime reasons companies are struggling to hire the right employees are the stagnant wages and rising inflation, which equate to a difficult situation for many workers.

Companies that provide substantive wage increases and better benefits to their employees will see happier workers, which will make the organization somewhere other people want to work.

Many companies will say they don’t have a choice in stagnant wages due to various economic factors, which may or may not be accurate. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that workers have started speaking up and demanding more livable wages to stay afloat with inflated prices.

One of the best ways of attracting the best talent is to offer a competitive package that candidates simply cannot ignore. Such benefits don’t have to be just wage-based, either. Health insurance is overwhelmingly a deciding factor, with nearly 50% of employees choosing a job because of its health insurance package.

Other benefits like the option for remote work can make an otherwise routine job seem like an attractive position. When you show your company is willing to invest in its employees, you will attract applicants.


Hard-to-fill positions can be the source of enormous frustration and worry. However, adapting to the realities of the current market and strategizing your outreach can make your organization stand out.

By going through the steps we’ve mentioned in this article, you at least give yourself an edge.

But even when you do find the right candidate, the process is far from over. With ScoutLogic, you can make sure the applicant you’ve selected is the right person for the job. We provide complete background checks that give you peace of mind. You take care of the hiring, and we’ll do the screening. Together, we can help you fill even those hard-to-fill positions.

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