5 Secrets to Attracting Talent in a Candidate-Driven Market

by Michelle Steitz | April 12, 2019

Hawaii has been seeing record-low unemployment, with the unemployment rate staying below 3 percent, for the past three years, and employers across the country are fighting for talent in a candidate-driven market. Attracting good people in a strong job market can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are five tips to do just that.

Beef up your benefits

Beyond a solid health insurance plan, offering benefits that help your employees solve their problems is a powerful -- and affordable -- way to add value and stand out from the crowd.

One of the fastest-growing benefits categories nationwide is in the area of financial wellness. Student loan debt is a huge stressor for many workers, especially Millennials -- more than 40 million Americans currently have student loan debt, with the amount owed totaling $1.2 trillion nationwide. Student loan assistance programs can include free debt counseling, refinancing, and repayment programs (for more information on Student Loan Repayment Assistance, see our one-pager on the topic here).

Other types of benefits that are growing in popularity include insurance for legal costs and identity theft, generous time-off policies, and paid family leave. And with millions of Americans spending big bucks on their fur babies, pet insurance is on the rise as well.

Keep salaries competitive

While benefits give you a lot of bang for the buck, salary is still important, and it needs to be competitive. That’s especially true in Hawaii where the cost of living is so high. The state legislature is currently considering raising the minimum wage, and every employer has a role in helping to make living in Hawaii a little bit easier. Salaries are creeping up nationwide, with salary budgets projected to increase by an average 2.9 percent in 2019. Check out salary surveys to help determine what’s competitive for your industry, or call ProService for a PayScale consult.

Help candidates connect with your purpose

Employees want to love what they do and feel that their work has meaning. That’s especially true for Millennials. One survey found that 88 percent of Millennials say their job is more fulfilling when they’re given opportunities to make a positive impact on environmental or social issues. We’d bet that percentage would be even higher in Hawaii given how important it is to many who live here to give back and build a sustainable economy for our future. That’s why cultivating a company mission and building a culture with a sense of purpose -- and communicating it to candidates -- can help you attract good talent. Just be sure to connect that purpose to your community and the decisions you make as a business.

Focus on the candidate experience

From your job description, to your website, to the interview process, to the offer letter -- take a close look at the candidate experience and what can be done to improve it. Some of the key elements of a positive candidate experience include providing clear communication about job details, setting realistic expectations, treating candidates with respect, providing a pleasant and informative interview experience, and smoothly transitioning applicants through each stage of the process. Providing a positive experience throughout the recruiting process will build your “brand” as an employer. Look for ways to improve how you engage with candidates, from shorter response times, to educational videos about what it’s like to work at your company.

Foster diversity

Diversity doesn’t just improve employee engagement and productivity, it also helps you attract candidates. A 2017 study found that nearly half of American Millennials said a diverse and inclusive workforce were important factors in a job search. And a study by SHRM found that 65 percent of employees consider respectful treatment of all employees a very important factor in overall job satisfaction. Ask employees if they have to “code switch” (change how they speak or present themselves) at work, and if they feel comfortable speaking up with their opinions, and if their opinions are well received -- then listen to their response to identify possible areas of improvement. Building a company culture based on inclusion and respect can help you harness the diverse strengths of your team -- and attract the best talent from a variety of backgrounds.

In a strong job market, it can be hard to stand out from other employers and attract the best talent. By looking at what you have to offer prospective employees -- from the paycheck to a diverse and inclusive workforce, you can keep your company at the top of candidates’ lists.

Michelle Steitz


Michelle Steitz serves as ProService's Service Team Executive, where she works collaboratively to develop, lead and execute the vision and strategies of ProService. Her talent for hiring, training, and developing customer service talent allows ProService to deliver the absolute best, most consistent, accurate, responsive and caring service experience to Hawaii's employers. Prior to joining ProService, Michelle worked as a Merchandise Manager at Walmart, and before that quickly made her way through the ranks of JCPenny, starting off as a Commission Sales Associate and graduating to VP, Corporate Talent Acquisition. Michelle is a graduate of the University of Arizona.