It’s getting harder and harder to find the right candidates. Here are three things to consider when you are searching for the best talent.

I’m hiring. Many of the companies I know are hiring. I have been in 20 cities so far this year–from New York to L.A., Atlanta to Honolulu–and whenever I ask business owners and what their top challenges are for 2013, hiring is always in the top three.

Economic boom days again? I don’t know, I’m not an economist. However, the big issue seems to be that companies cannot find the right candidates and they are less willing than ever to make a costly hiring mistake. Regulations, benefits costs, orientation and training expenses have made business owners much more careful.

Where have all the good candidates gone? They are probably working right now, but maybe not for your competitors or even in your industry. The highly technical positions are going to be in demand of course. For example, many of the trades have seen a shortage in qualified applicants because of a lack of trade-school graduates. However, there are lots of graduates coming out of school and they are going to need jobs. Add to that those people who are transitioning careers and there are plenty of good candidates out there–they just may not look like the candidates of years past.

Here are three things to consider when searching for the best candidates:

1) Fish in different ponds–You and your competitors are probably hunting the same candidates in the same places. No wonder the prices are higher than you want to pay and the best candidates are unavailable. Can you modify your requirements to see your labor pool in a different way? Need friendly, efficient and detail-oriented people for handling customers? What about people from the decimated travel agency and mortgage broker industries? How about critical thinkers and decision-makers? Possibly law-school and accounting majors who have graduated. The point is, look at the skill, not the resume only. Your competitor is looking at the resume only and this may be leaving some of the best talent untapped.

2) No one comes tailor-fit for the job anymore–There are fewer straight paths in the marketplace for jobs because the world of careers is changing faster than the world of education. Recent estimates predict that as much as 50 percent of the jobs that will be created in the next 10 years do not even exist right now. For those who are hiring, that begs the question: are you hiring for the business you were or the business you are becoming. If you are hiring for the business you are becoming, you need to find adaptability, work ethic, and critical-thinking skills more than you need to find candidates with 10 years of experience in your industry and the completely over-rated “database of contacts.”

3) Work harder on retention because your best have better options–Poaching is still alive and well in the business recruiting field. You need to be focused on keeping your best. You know this, but often times I hear more about the “counter-offer” strategy for retaining someone when they are poached than I hear about the “keeping” strategy. I know my people can leave me tomorrow and make more money somewhere else and I am proud of that. I want people who work here and have enough talent that it is a regular choice. But it keeps me on my toes to make certain that this is a great place for them to be.

The challenge of finding great talent is only going to get worse. With new jobs outpacing the educational training that prepares people for them and the shifting demographics of the labor force, you must get better at this, or watch the best be taken by your competition.

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