Short on staff? Discover six ways to attract more applicants

Kate Palmer - HR Advice and Consultancy Director

November 02 2021

If you’re searching for new staff, you might be struggling to fill your vacancies.

That’s because job adverts have now soared to record high. In fact, a whopping 2.2 million jobs are currently on offer – meaning applicants can afford to be pickier than ever…  

But with workers spoilt for choice, you could be short on staff. So if you’ve had little uptake after posting a new role, it could be time to rethink your approach.

Here’s how you can tempt more job hunters to hit ‘apply’ on your new opening…  

1. First, hold a staff survey

Over the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers reconsidered what they wanted from their role. And whether that’s a better work-life balance or more job security, you could already offer what workers want.

So, to get an idea of what workers appreciate, ask your current staff. Use an anonymous survey to ask your employees what they like and what they’d improve about your workplace.

Here’s an idea of the kind of questions you could include:

  • If you were to quit tomorrow, why would that be?
  • How would you rate your work-life balance?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your perks?
  • Do you feel valued at work?
  • What would you change about your workplace?
  • What do you enjoy about working here?

This means you can promote your strong points, while working on your weaker points.

For example, your staff might enjoy your supportive environment, but want more annual leave. This would mean you’d highlight your positive culture as a perk and explore whether you could offer more holiday.

And when you learn what helps your current staff thrive, you can create a culture that appeals to any potential workers, too.   

2. Double check the going rate for the role

Before you post a job opening, make sure you know the average pay for that role.

Since you last checked, the going rate might have increased. And with energy bills and living costs currently rising, staff may be searching for higher wages.

As workers currently have more choice than ever, offering a slightly more competitive wage can give you an advantage.  

3. Craft a tempting contract

Along with providing the right pay, you should create an appealing staff contract.

While you don’t need to give employees their contract until their first day, applicants should know what type of contract you’re offering. This could be a full-time, part-time, or a zero-hours contract.

And since lockdown, many workers are craving more stability and job security. Which could mean a zero-hours contract doesn’t attract as many applicants as you’d like.

So, if you can afford to offer more security in the form of a permanent contract, this could boost your applications. 

Plus, many workers enjoyed a better work-life balance during lockdown. As a result, they’re now searching for more flexibility in their role. Add flexible working to your staff contracts, and you could attract more applicants.

This could include:

  • Remote or hybrid working
  • Compressed hours
  • Flexitime

4. Do more with staff entitlement

There’s more to staff happiness than ping pong tables, happy hours, and free lunches…

While fun perks like these can be the icing on the cake for workers, it’s the ‘boring’ benefits that really appeal to new hires. Especially after a tough 18 months of job insecurity.

Which means you should review your staff annual leave, pension contributions, and any maternity or paternity pay.

If you can, offer more than the statutory allowance or legal minimum. This shows you value your workforce and can make your role much more appealing for job hunters. 

5. Diversify your workforce

If you’ve had no luck getting many job responses, it could be time to change your hiring process.

Consider your current workforce. Are your staff roughly the same age or mainly one gender? Or do they all have similar experience and qualifications?

It could be the result of a recruitment process that only appeals to a certain demographic or group. And while you don’t to that intentionally, it’s a sign you should open up your search to reach a wider audience.

To reach younger applicants, you could apply for the Kickstart Scheme or an apprentice grant. Not only will this allow you to access funding, but you can reach a wider group of applicants.

Plus, it’s worth keeping an open mind about ‘career changers’. During lockdown, many people reassessed their career and wanted to explore something different. While you might usually only accept a certain level of experience, relaxing your requirements could help you fill your role more quickly.

While this will widen your pool of applicants, it can also bring a fresh perspective to your team.

6. Offer a better work-life balance

The way we work is constantly changing. And as a result of the pandemic, we’ve quickly adapted to a ‘new normal’.

As working from home became the norm, many workers are limiting their job search to roles that include remote work.

If your business can’t support remote work, you could offer other kinds of flexible working:

  • Offer a 4-day working week – this could mean staff work full-time over fewer days with compressed hours.
  • Flexitime – this could mean staff choose when they start and finish work between core hours.
  • Hybrid working – if you can’t allow full-time remote work, you could introduce hybrid working. For example, staff have the option to work remotely up to two days per week.

Flexible working allows you to offer a better work-life balance. And when you do that, your role becomes much more appealing to job hunters. 

Need help crafting contracts for new starters? Get in touch or get started with unlimited HR support.  

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