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I've been trying to hire two additional permanent members for my team since January, and we aren't getting good candidates. The company is offering a competitive salary, which alone makes us stand out. In addition, we offer a wide range of benefits which far surpass what other companies in the area offer.

The roles are advertised on job boards and we work with recruitment companies. The roles are getting exposure but we are not getting candidates applying.

The feedback I'm getting from recruitment companies is there are a lot of companies offering similar roles, and there simply aren't enough candidates available in the area. The number of recruitment companies I'm working with has gone down from 12 to 7 as some of them just gave up.

I've broadened the search to graduates, and I'm finding we still can't get any good candidates. I've spoken to other companies having similar issues. They have resorted to hiring candidates they wouldn't normally offer a position to, which has resulted in a high staff turnover.

I'm now looking at bringing in apprentices after one of our contractors mentioned he had some success with training people to the required level. I will soon be forced to use outsourcing if I can't find good candidates, which I want to avoid.

I've not tried paying for the ads and paying to search for candidates, but I'm already spending so much time on this that the team I manage is suffering as a result.

Are there any suggestions on how I can find more candidates?

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    Does offering a "competitive" salary really make you stand out? To me that term means not lagging behind, kind of middle of the pack, overall. – PoloHoleSet May 25 '18 at 16:55
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    It is not always about salary. You really need to take a look at what kind of reputation your company has in your local market. Software development markets (from my experience) tend to be very gossipy, and a bad reputation from the employment side of things can be a complete killer to recruitment efforts. – Joel Etherton May 25 '18 at 19:19
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    @JoelEtherton I totally agree, and the more hiring a company does the more gossip. The fact that there are recruiters avoiding the company is an indicator that this might be going on. – user7360 May 25 '18 at 20:54
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    Oh, and not just reputation, but also your benefits package needs to be competitive. If you offer far less benefits than most of the other local businesses in the same field, you will be skipped by everyone except the desperate. – Juha Untinen May 26 '18 at 7:01
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    Link to reopen request for this question on meta. – Masked Man May 26 '18 at 12:44
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If you're offering what others are paying now in a market where nearly 100% of the qualified candidates are already receiving a similar package, they have no reason to leave their present employers, unless there's some other problem, which should be rare, they're probably treated very well where they are now. In such a market, they probably know how sought after they are and are furthermore expecting significant annual raises.

You're going to have to raise your salary expectations significantly. You need to pay current salaries plus at least 1 year, and probably 2 years, worth of good raises.

  • Accepted as we have already raised salary expectations but have had to raise them significantly to find the staff we wanted. – Matthew Bonner Jun 25 '18 at 9:22
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If the package (salary, benefits, etc.) you're offering is not attracting qualified candidates then it is not 'competitive'.

You have two options - improve the package and/or lower your requirements.

Other suggestions - ask for references from current employees. Maybe give them a bonus (monetary or something else like extra time off) for successful referrals. You could also talk to local (for lack of a better term) user groups such as a .NET developer group (same for java or other technologies).

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    exactly. "competitive" might mean "5% above the average" but what's the damn point? "competitive" should only be viewed in the outcome, which in this case is, well, failure. Ergo the salary is not competitive. – bharal May 25 '18 at 18:57
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    Simple supply and demand. If supply is low, and demand is high, the price goes up. If you want a quality employee, you have to pay for it. – Keltari May 25 '18 at 19:03
  • We are paying roughly double the market rate and provide a wide range of benefits that other companies do not offer. We also already have a referral scheme. – Matthew Bonner May 31 '18 at 9:01
  • Lower requirements is often a suicide. People who don't fit cost far more than they bring money. – gazzz0x2z May 31 '18 at 9:17
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    @gazzz0x2z Devil's advocate - it could be that the job spec is so grandiose that candidates who could probably do the job in reality are intimidated into thinking that the role is beyond their ability. I must be honest I see bravado about as often as I see impostor syndrome in my line of work, so they'd average out, but the latter can definitely be a concern and you don't want to over-specify either. – Tom W May 31 '18 at 10:08
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Raise your reputation. Visit professional events in your domain. Visit universities training the kind of people you need. Roam into discussion forums for professionals of your trade. Be aware of your market - and your image. Poach other companies, and listen to candidates, wether they accept your offer or not.

And also look inside your company. Try to have people working for you speak about their working conditions. If they don't like them, be sure to improve them. If they do like them, use them as ambassadors. If they feel mistreated, or they feel the management is absurd, or whatever is wrong, they for sure won't push any of their friends to join your company.

Anyways, the root cause seems to be a lack skilled people on the market. Either you need to be better than others(image, working conditions, package); or you need to train massively new people, knowing you'll lose a number of them in the process. I'm pretty sure you're gonna need both, in fact. if you are a company where it's nice to work, AND if you train more people, then you should reduce the problem to acceptable levels.

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