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Alternative candidate sourcing strategies vital in response to 50 year low unemployment rate

With unemployment at a near-50-year-low, finding qualified candidates is becoming increasingly difficult in many industries. Wave’s Emily Buckley looks at the alternative candidate sourcing strategies that could provide vital extra avenues to attracting and placing candidates in jobs.

 We haven’t seen so few people unemployed in the UK since Harold Wilson became Prime Minister. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics have shown that, in the period May to July 2022, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since the early 1970s.

At just 3.6%, the UK unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 1974. The ONS attributes the fall not to a rise in people in work (the employment rate also fell) but to a rise in the economically inactive – those of working age but not in work and not looking for work, largely due to long-term ill health or studying. WaveTrackR data has also found that applications have plateaued, increasing by just 1% in July and 0% in August – and yet jobs rose by 18% from July. If candidate applications are slowing but jobs growing, this creates a dichotomy that calls for a re-think in candidate attraction strategies.

When so few are out of work and actively searching for jobs, alternative candidate sourcing strategies are essential. Rather than focusing solely on advertising your jobs on job boards and your website, a more rounded, multi-pronged approach is called for. This doesn’t mean halting job board advertising altogether but widening your reach, thereby increasing your chances of finding qualified candidates for your roles. The candidate sourcing strategies listed below will provide other streams of candidate attraction to complement and bolster the more traditional job board job advertising you do.

CV Search

When candidate availability is low it means two things – there are less candidates to see your jobs but also there is more of a fight to get your jobs in front of those candidates. Competition is fiercer and so speed is everything. This is when the ability to go directly to quality candidates can be hugely beneficial. CV Search tools allow you to specifically search for CVs that match your specifications. This can take time if you search each job board individually but some, such as the WaveTrackR CV Search, enable you to search multiple databases and your own database in one single search. This allows you to quickly find and contact candidates that you know match the job specifications, shortening the entire process.

 Talent pools

Talent pools are a rich resource that allow you to quickly source the right candidate for the right job from your own database. Reaching out directly to candidates in your talent pool that you know match the job specifications can be a way to quickly find the people you need. The same is true of hard-to-fill and urgent roles, as well as those where discretion is key and so publicly advertising a job isn’t possible. If you have a role to fill that you know matches a number of candidates in your pool, you’ll instantly have an advantage over others that have to rely solely on advertising the job. The ability to retrieve a suitable CV quickly, pick up the phone, talk to them about the role, and set up an interview – all within a few hours of receiving the job spec – is of incredible value to recruiters, particularly in a low-candidate market.

 Content-led outreach

In a market with such low candidate availability, recruitment marketing is hugely valuable. Creating great content will help to solidify your brand as experts in your field, thought leaders and industry authorities. Value-led content will help you to reach both active and passive candidates – a great way to start a conversation and encourage visitors to your website where they will also find your jobs. Putting out interesting and informative content – whether written, video or audio – is a great way to connect with candidates. As with all candidate attraction methods, it’s about building trust and fostering relationships.

 Social media

Having a strong online presence is key to attracting candidates to your agency. Having a great website is vital but being active on relevant social media sites is also important – especially when it comes to reaching out to passive candidates. Let people know of any great jobs you’ve got, write interesting posts, comment on other posts, reach out to people and engage. Be present, be seen, be known.


Who could be better at sending qualified candidates your way than past or current candidates? They will know a huge number of people working in the areas in which you recruit and can personally attest to the great service you provide, the employers you work with and the roles that you recruit for. A referral scheme can be a good way to motivate candidates to refer others to you.

 Careers fairs

Don’t forget the old school methods of in-person careers fairs, which are particularly useful for entry-level positions and graduate jobs. The huge selling point of careers fairs is that you have a captive market all in one location – everyone at a careers fair is looking for a job or at least considering their options. They also enable you to instantly meet candidates, cutting out several steps, as well as grow your talent pool by taking details and keeping in touch – easier when you’ve already had face-to-face interaction.

 And finally… have honest conversations about flexibility

The ONS have found that people leaving the workforce due to long-term illness leapt by 130,000 in the past 3 months alone – the highest rate in thirty years. Economic inactivity – currently at 21.7% – is hurting the jobs market. One solution to sourcing candidates in such a tight market is to attract the economically inactive back to the workforce – something I wrote about for UK Recruiter just a few months ago. Not everyone can or will return but a different approach could make all the difference to encourage those that can, especially given the cost of living crisis is forcing many to consider a return to work (the ONS has also revealed that the number of over-65s in work is at a record high, largely driven by financial need). This largely necessitates employers being willing to be more flexible, whether that’s in terms of location, contract type or when employees work. All three factors could mean the difference between someone with disabilities, a parent or carer, or those currently in retirement, being able to re-join the workforce.

Ultimately, a low-candidate market means casting your net wider to increase your chances of attracting candidates to your jobs. Seek out other methods to add to the job advertising you’re already likely doing and you’ll remain competitive.

Wave aims to create a world where talent is never missed by providing recruitment solutions through a mix of cutting-edge technology and creativity, via WaveTrackR (data-powered multi-poster, analytics tool and CV Search), RecWebs (tailored recruitment websites) and WaveMedia (strategic recruitment media buying). 

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