Smartt Principles

Nicole Smartt is an author and the co-owner of Star Staffing, based in Petaluma. Smartt Principles is her periodic column on employment tips and trends.


The national unemployment rate has been dropping every year since 2010 and is currently at a low 4.5 percent.

For employers, that low number equals big competition on the hiring front. It’s time to take a good look at hiring and recruiting practices to make sure you’re doing all you can to attract and swiftly hire the most talented candidates.

Here are six hiring strategies you can employ now:

1. Be creative in the way you reach out to candidates

Instead of simply running an online ad, take advantage of your networks.

– Ask employees for referrals (maybe even offer an incentive).

– Use your industry contacts, associations, and trade groups. Develop a plan for contacting them regularly, even when you’re not trying to fill a job to set the stage for when you really need them.

– Bring people in for interviews even before you have an opening.

– Use your website. Does your careers page talk about company culture, or your mission and values? It should.

– Find out where your ideal candidates live and reach them there — news sources, forums, discussion groups, and on social.

– Find out everything you can about the types of people who make up the top tier of your talent pool and gear your recruiting methods to attract them.

– Think about publicity. Write an article that shows your company in a favorable way and try to get it published by an industry magazine.

2. Make sure your wages and benefits are competitive

Do your research before you start reaching out to see what other employers are paying for the same types of jobs. Bonuses, retirement plans, transportation assistance, and remote working options really matter to employees.

3. Act quickly

Qualified candidates are in big demand. If you take too long to hire, someone else will snap them up. That doesn’t mean you should be careless in your choice, but do pay attention to the process and allow no impediments to sneak in.

4. Make the process more interactive

With technology what it is, candidates expect an immediate and interactive experience. Let them know the application has been received, even if it’s a canned response.

And keep candidates apprised of their application status. Even if you don’t hire them this time, a positive interviewing experience will encourage them to watch for other job openings with your company.

5. Look past obvious sources

Some people face barriers to employment that keep others from noticing them. These can include age, disability, criminal record, employment gaps, education, and lack of training.

Be daring and you may just find a diamond in the rough. Reach out to local nonprofits that may be willing to help you locate off-the-grid candidates.

6. Bring in a ringer

A staffing firm can help you recruit for those hard-to-fill positions. You pay for the service, yes, but it can be a very cost-effective, option, especially in this competitive market.

Hiring the right talent will continue to be a challenge for some time, but the opportunity to find stars is still very possible, especially for those companies willing to offer quality incentives and create a hiring process that snaps up talented individuals while the competition is still just thinking about it!

Smartt Principles

Nicole Smartt is an author and the co-owner of Star Staffing, based in Petaluma. Smartt Principles is her periodic column on employment tips and trends.