From the Desk of Jason Hochstein, Director of Talent Acquisition at Brightwing

Your firm just got hit with a great job req (.NET Developer? Corporate Accountant? Quality Engineer? You pick!), and it’s a client you can’t afford to disappoint. Only problem is, every trick up your sleeve and tool in your shed may not be enough to find the right person.


That’s the reality of recruiting in a zero-unemployment market: a great – but otherwise ordinary – job req can turn into a hunt for a purple squirrel.


You’ve seen with your own eyes the hundreds of amazing jobs out there – with no one there to fill them. With such a ridiculously low unemployment rate, finding the right candidate takes a massive network and a ton of time (not to mention intuition and experience). It’s the reason employers need stellar recruiters more than ever.


Here’s what it takes to become the go-to recruiter when there are more jobs than candidates to take them.


1. A Brand You Believe In


The hardest part of recruiting in a zero-unemployment landscape is that candidates are picky. They’re in the driver’s seat, going full-throttle, with the radio blasting their favorite tune. Most recruiters won’t be heard – or seen – unless they’ve got something truly spectacular to offer.


First impressions are everything. Candidates accept or reject you based on your brand and reputation before you even know they exist. As a recruiter, that means your work is cut out for you: your personal brand and your firm’s brand and your client’s brand all matter. A lot.


If you really want to attract and recruit amazing candidates, you have to choose to work for a firm that has a brand, vision, and purpose you truly believe in. And you need to choose a firm that’s intentional about the clients they choose to work with. For example, I chose Brightwing because their mission is my mission: we fight for our candidates and clients because we believe in them and because we’re committed to helping them realize their potential. That covers my first two brand bases.


The last piece to manage is your personal brand. You probably don’t need me to tell you to be active on LinkedIn – every recruiter knows that. But make sure you post your own take on what’s happening in your field, and that you participate and even land speaking opportunities at conferences, local events and meetups. Get your name out there, and the best professionals will know to come to you when they’re looking for something new.


2. A Candidate Experience You Can Be Proud Of


Here’s an eye-opening story. In 2014, over 130,000 candidates applied for jobs with Virgin Media. 18% of those candidates were existing customers. But the candidate experience was so bad that more than 7,500 of those customers-turned-candidates canceled their subscriptions, costing the company an estimated $5.4 million in lost revenue – not to mention lost opportunity.


Today’s jobseekers have little to no patience for less-than-stellar experiences. You may not be able to choose the ATS your firm uses or decide the steps of the hiring process, but from the moment a candidate interacts with you – through email, LinkedIn, or the phone – you are in charge of the experience.


What does that experience look like? It starts with the basic stuff – don’t misspell their name in an email, provide timely follow-up – you know the drill.


But what makes for a truly great experience is the time you take to understand and advocate for a candidate’s career goals, help them navigate rejection, walk through negotiations, and more.


3. Relationship-Building You Rock At


You’ve probably heard of the “post-and-pray” tactic that many recruiters have turned to in desperation. Post a job ad on every available job board and pray to the recruiting gods that the right candidate will magically show up.


I’m all for job boards when they’re a part of a comprehensive recruiting strategy, but you need to work the big picture. Our 2019 talent survey revealed that many professionals choose to work with industry-specific recruiters and network on social media instead of digging through job boards.


Why? Because recruiters have the kind of intuition and insight that search algorithms don’t.  


But candidates won’t get a sense for the value you bring to the table if you approach job placements like transactions.


If you work to build relationships with candidates, they will come to learn about the natural advantages you offer. Maybe the first position you approached them about doesn’t sway them, but when another req comes across your desk that’s a better fit, don’t you want them to pick up your phone call? Better yet, when they’re ready to make a move, don’t you want them to call YOU?


Building a relationship means spending a little extra time with each candidate to find out what makes them special. The beauty of it is – the extra time works its magic in both directions, and candidates will see what makes you a special recruiter.


Recruiting in a zero-unemployment market isn’t easy. But if you are armed with the right resources, attitude, and approach, you’ve got it made.



Jason is our Director, Talent Acquisition and has been a Brightwinger for 8 years. When he’s not helping people land their dream job, you can find him playing cards, camping, or spending time with his family. Learn more about him here.



Feeling held back in your current position? Join a company that gives you the resources, tools, and environment to really make a difference in this challenging market. Become a Brightwinger! Check out our careers page today for more information about what it’s like to work here.