The Art of Work
No one is applying… now what?

Attracting talent: 
A complete guide

A modern guide that makes attracting talent easy.

Passionate about growing your team? Join the ranks of industry leading brands who read and love our content.

Header image with logos of different companies subscribed to the Art of Work newsletter.
Employer Branding
Attracting talent: A complete guide
Table of contents
1. Understand why you're not attracting talent
  • Attracting talent can be hard
  • Do a role questionnaire
2. Improve job content
  • Make sure your job post makes sense for the role
  • Remove hurdles from your application form
  • Reflect your company's values on your career page
3. Reach more candidates
  • Share the job post on all your own channels
  • Promote your job posts to active and passive job seekers
  • Find candidates yourself and send good outreach emails

1. Understand why you're not attracting talent

Why attracting talent can be hard

At Homerun, we've seen many companies struggling with attracting talent and we've also seen them turn it around completely. It starts with understanding why. There could be a number of different reasons like:

  • A tapped-out network: Up until now, you've hired people you've worked with in the past, acquaintances, and friends. Now's the time to look further than your network which means reaching beyond your network to attract candidates. To be honest, this isn't easy.
  • You're hiring a role you know nothing about: You have a marketing background and you're hiring a developer for the first time and you don't know how or where to look.
  • No one knows you yet: Your company hasn't made a big name for itself yet, which makes it hard to attract talent. Your team is great and you have a wonderful company culture, but nobody knows except you and your team.

of small companies don't get any applicants in the first week.*

Companies that are hiring 10 or more roles get 50% more applicants on average. So don't sweat it! Once you put some time and energy into your hiring process you'll start getting savvier at this and will start attracting candidates. * Homerun data, March 2020

Do a role questionnaire

The best thing you can do to understand why you're not attracting enough candidates, is to start with the question "what is our ideal candidate looking for?" Don't try to answer this question by speculating, but put your research hat on and give someone a call who is in the role you are hiring for.

Let's say you're hiring a designer. Talk to a designer to find out what someone in that role values in their work and working environment. Find out what makes them tick and be sure to get their input on the job post you created. Also, take some time to ask them where they hang out on the internet so you can start thinking about how to reach candidates better. The key to attracting talent is understanding how your ideal candidates really think.

Tip: Use this questionnaire

Not sure what to ask? No worries! We've got you.
Here's a ready to use questionnaire.

2. Improve your job content

Improve your job post

You now know what sort of information is relevant to share about the role. Are there specific tools and tech they'll have access to? Are there words that are overused turnoffs for this role (guru, fast-paced environment, go-getter)? Is it important to give a salary indication? Review your job post and make some tweaks. It'll make all the difference.

Checklist for reviewing your job post

  • Is your job description clear and not too long?
    You don’t have to list the responsibilities in extreme detail.
  • Are your requirements really ALL required?
    If you have "nice-to-haves", remove them.
  • Have you listed other relevant information about the role?
    Like the tech and tools they'll have access to or who'll be their direct colleagues.
  • Have you listed all the perks?
    Also ones that are non-monetary.
  • Is there any other practical information that is important to share?
    Like salary indication or office location.

On perks

You might not be able to offer your employees big perks like a car, a huge training budget or a gym membership. Don't underestimate the inherent (non-monetary) perks that your company has.

Perks can be simple (but impactful) things like fun daily team lunches, delicious coffee, working in a beautiful building, flexible working hours, having meetings outside when it's sunny or being able to work from home. Put things like this in your job post so that you can give candidates an idea of what it's like to work at your company.

Tip: Attract talent by highlighting unique aspects

With Homerun it's easy to highlight the unique aspects of your company with the different job blocks you have available to you. You could even use one of these job post templates designed to stand out in the sea of bland job posts.

Highlight your employees with the team job block, show perks in an aesthetic way and choose from a number of different image galleries to show off your office and company culture.

Improve your application form

Have another look at your application form and take away any big hurdles that keep people from applying. Not sure what's too much? If you're not getting any applicants it could be worth removing all questions and assignments and only asking for personal information and a LinkedIn page. This way, you can remove labor from the side of the applicant and take it upon yourself. Attracting talent is all about making the candidate experience easy.

You can do this by researching whether applicants are a match yourself or by following up quickly with a phone call to ask additional info. This is not possible if you are getting 100 applicants per job post, but you're here because you're struggling to get any.

Until you start getting more applicants it will be manageable to put some time into researching the applicants you do get.

Tip: Create an accessible application form

With Homerun you can customize every aspect of the application form. You can make it as easy or as hard as you want.

You decide what applicants have to fill in as part of their application, whether it’s questions about their motivation, assignments or just a phone number.

Screenshot of Homerun dashboard explaining part of creating an application form

of job seekers quit an online application if it takes 15 minutes or longer to complete.*

The length of your application could very well be where you're losing potential applicants. *Hays' 2018 What Workers Want report

Improve your career page

Your career page is the place where you’re marketing towards candidates and not customers. It’s where you show the USPs of working at your company. If you don’t yet have a career page, start there! Check out our Guide to Employer Branding for some tips.

Does your ideal candidate value the opportunity to work remote? Or is it a creatively stimulating working environment that they're looking for? You can reflect these things about your company on your career page by adding the company values, pictures of your office and team, and information about the workflows and tools your company uses (remote? flexible work hours? team chat with Slack?).

Be concrete and give examples when attracting candidates. Chances are there are some pretty cool things about your company that can and should be communicated.

3. Reach more candidates

Merely posting your job online is not enough to attract talent in if your company hasn’t made a name for themselves yet. One day perhaps (we believe in you!), but for now, you’re going to have step up your game if you want your ideal candidate to discover you.

There are three ways you can expand your reach:
Sharing, promoting and sourcing. We’ll walk you through each one.

Share your job post

This is about making use of the free channels your company has available.

We've made this sharing checklist that you can follow every time you publish a job opening. Some things may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how often the obvious channels are forgotten. We get it, you have a lot on your mind after all.

Checklist for sharing your job post

  • Share on your company's social media accounts
    Eg. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.
  • Share in relevant groups
    Eg. LinkedIn, Facebook groups.
  • Share on your personal social media
    Eg. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.
  • Send the job post to your personal network
    Ask them to send it to people they know are looking for a new job.
  • Ask your team to share the job post
    On their socials and with their network (after all, hiring is a team sport).
  • Share in your company newsletter
    Reaching people already interested in your brand.
  • Share on other relevant platforms you or your company uses
    Platforms like Github, relevant Subreddits and public Slack channels.

Promote your job post

You might be hesitant to lay down money to promote your job post and to be honest, it isn't always necessary; attracting talent on a budget is possible. However, there are some very good reasons to occasionally put your money where your mouth is and here they are:

  • You'll reach more quality candidates: If you're hiring for a niche discipline or industry, promoting will allow you to reach more people that meet your requirements. This will improve the quality of candidates that see your job post.
  • You'll save time: promoting simply gets the word out faster (and applicants in faster). Maybe you're about to start a big project and you're lacking essential skills in your team. Move the process along quickly by promoting.
  • You'll reach passive job seekers: The best candidates are not looking for a job. If you've done a good job with your job post and career page, you could get high-quality candidates to consider a job switch.

If you decide to promote, then there are a few options on where to promote. Be sure to make your choice based on what you learned from your interview for the role. Where is your ideal candidate located? Where can they be found on the internet? Where would they look for a job?

We can make a distinction between places where you can reach active job seekers and places you can reach passive job seekers (people who are not looking for a job but can be convinced to make a switch).

Reach active job seekers

Career Platforms
LinkedIn and Indeed will give you access to an extensive audience of job seekers.

Niche job boards
Promoting your job post on job boards for specific disciplines and industries is potentially extremely impactful if you're looking for someone with a specific expertise.

Reach passive job seekers

Social media advertising
Facebook and Instagram are your go-to's for this. This is where you can get great candidates who are not looking for a job, to think about a job switch.

Google Display Network
Reach candidates while they're browsing the internet with display advertising via Google.

Find candidates yourself

This step is all about looking for candidates yourself and asking them to apply. This is called sourcing. We know sending cold messages on LinkedIn has a bad rap, but that has more to do with how it's done than the fact that it's done. If you find people who meet your requirements and you send them an authentic, personal and honest message that's tailored to them specifically, then you won't come off as irritating.

Attracting talent is about quality over quantity. Writing tailored messages might sound like a lot of work and potentially quite tedious and it is! It's also very important because this is going to help you reach extremely high-quality candidates.

You can keep it simple by starting with 3 messages a week. Or ask everyone in your team to message one candidate. You could also consider working with a freelancer specialized in sourcing to help you out with this step.

Checklist for finding candidates

  • Search LinkedIn for the job title.
    This tool will allow you to easily Google search LinkedIn.
  • Have a look at the career pages of companies you admire
    And look for the people in the role you're hiring for.
  • Check out their LinkedIn profiles
    And look in the sidebar at "People also viewed".
  • Save the candidates you find with Homerun's Talent Clipper
    So you can easily send them a message when you're ready.

How to write a great message

  • Take time to write a concise and honest message: You don't have to start with outright asking them if they want to work with you. Be tactful. Think of it as dating. You want to get to know each other first. So take it slow, build a relationship first!
  • Tailor the message to the candidate: Use the insights you got from step one to write this message. Try and add a personal touch so the person sees you've made an effort. Refer back to information on their profile. Let them know why you think they are the right fit. If you take the time to write this message, you’ll stand out in their inbox, as most of the other messages they receive are clearly part of a massive series of cold impersonal emails.
  • Be mindful of who is sending the first cold message. Outreach from a founder can add some necessary weight  to a cold message. Or sometimes a message from someone who would be the direct colleague of the candidate makes more sense. Choose someone carefully.
  • Add interesting links at the bottom of the email that allow the candidate to take a deep dive into the company: This way your message doesn't get overcrowded with information, but if the candidate wants to know more they can read further. Link to articles about the history of the company, interviews with employees and of course, to the career page and job opening!

Use Homerun to hire better, from start to finish.

If you take even a few of these steps you'll begin to see more candidates rolling in! If you're lacking the skills or tools to create a beautiful career page and job post, then give Homerun a try.

Homerun helps small businesses attract talent and manage candidates in an easy-to-use applicant tracking system.