Here’s how companies can fill vacant positions faster


Companies are still plagued by open positions in the wake of the pandemic and the Great Resignation. Even with job vacancies dropping in the last few months, there are still over 10 million open positions across the country.

“The help-wanted signs are still out all over America,” said Richard Wahlquist, president, and chief executive officer at the American Staffing Association.

These unfilled positions could be worse for business than companies might think, according to recruiters and staffing agencies. Aside from the bottom line impact of too many vacancies, Tony Hoffman, vice president of recruiting at Orion Talent, said one of the most troublesome side effects is long-term organizational strain. This is when employees, at all levels, bear the weight of making up the work of unfilled roles, a sure road to stress and burnout.

“You’re leaving your people out there short-handed, to do the job of others, and as soon as that starts to happen, it’s almost like a leak,” Hoffman said. “The more strain it puts on the remaining players, it causes residual attrition. You end up losing players that you’d like to retain because you can’t fill the gap or void of the missing player quickly enough.”

Invest more in your current employees to attract new ones

While the tightened labor market prompted many companies to raise wages and tap into more labor pools, such as early career talent and formerly incarcerated Americans, Hoffman suggests that companies also invest in their current employees to fill open positions.

Allocating more money and resources into employee referral programs and more robust employee benefits, like technology stipends and vacation policies, will help attract new workers, Hoffman said.

“Where’s the best place to identify and find talent? It’s going to be the referral network of your current employees,” Hoffman said. “They’re a promoter for your company, and they’re going to be connected to people in similar industries and in similar roles, which feeds directly into your referral network.”

Benefits as simple as employer-sponsored lunches and office snacks will boost employee morale and increase retention, Hoffman said. All on top of revamping benefits to be employee advantageous, instead of employer-centric.

Hoffman said companies should also invest in three key internal departments to make a difference in attracting and retaining workers — marketing, IT, and HR departments.

“Those are the departments that everyone in an organization, from the top down to the bottom, rely on, and if you leave them in an anemic state, it’s going to have an impact on retention,” he said.

Even with inflation and spending cuts, Wahlquist said companies can always afford to invest more resources in their recruiters, talent acquisition teams, and staffing agencies to fill vacancies faster as well.

Liven up the job descriptions of unfilled roles

Outdated job descriptions are a major reason why vacancies are not getting filled, said Joe Marino, chief operating officer at Hueman People Solutions, a recruitment process outsourcing company based in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

Marino said most job descriptions currently used on job sites are typically internal documents for companies and are not written to be attractive to candidates.

“Organizations need to translate those internal job descriptions into candidate-focused job descriptions, in order to attract candidates,” he added.

On top of updating job descriptions, employers need to be more open to hiring people that don’t meet every single job requirement, said Jennifer Cooper, senior vice president of recruitment process outsourcing operations at Hueman People Solutions.

“It’s a competitive market, employers are more flexible, offering on-the-job training, and advertising career-ladder progression,” Cooper said. “If you’re not doing that, and you’re only going by black-and-white job descriptions, with nothing colorful or attractive about it, candidates have plenty of options to go elsewhere.”

Prioritize the candidate and support the recruiter

Despite a looming recession and economic strains, Cooper said recruiters need to refocus their mindset for filling open positions.

“Our investment is not in filling the job, our investment is moving the candidate along and keeping that candidate warm,” Cooper said. “Our focus is helping the candidate get a job placement because if they quit and the job listing reopens, we have to fill it again.”

Recruiters need to not only find the candidate that fits the job description but also the candidate that fits a hiring manager’s needs and expectations, Cooper said, so it cements a hiring placement that can last past economic hiccups.

“The success of talent acquisition and filling roles does not rest solely on the recruiter,” Marino said. “You need a good recruiter, but you also need good recruitment leadership, effective processes, recruiters accountable to metrics, and robust technology supporting talent acquisition functions.”

The ultimate success of a recruiter, during times of financial uncertainty or not, Marino said, relies on the talent acquisition team and the company’s leadership.

“Recruiters can’t do it by themselves,” Marino said. “They need leaders driving them, training them, coaching them, and holding them accountable, and they need the tools necessary to drive success.”

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