The biggest hiring challenges we’re all facing today, according to 15 hiring experts

Hiring today is very different than it was just 10 years ago, largely because we are in a candidate-driven market where job hunter expectations have a bigger impact on what hiring managers have to take into consideration. With that in mind, we thought it might be useful to get some insight into how today’s job market looks like from a common challenge perspective. In other words – what’s making life really difficult these days for human resource managers and hiring managers?

To get that insight, we went and asked some seasoned hiring managers and recruiters what their thoughts are about today’s biggest hiring challenges. Specifically, we asked them to answer this question:

“What is the #1 hiring challenge you’re facing today?”

What was interesting was that all of the answers boiled down to five main hiring challenges. Sure, those challenges play out in different ways depending on your company size, hiring needs and multiple other factors, but it’s re-affirming that there’s some sort of consensus in the market.

Here are those five biggest hiring challenges we all seem to be facing today, along with what each expert specifically shared about each challenge:

Adapting to this new job market 

“The biggest challenge in hiring today is that hiring managers do not behave as if they are in a candidate’s market. Unemployment is low and it is harder to engage talented professionals for new job opportunities. On the flip side, hiring managers often require a lengthy interview process along with assessments for skills and personality. Assessments designed to reduce the burden on the interview process sometimes become additive instead. This is where the problem lies. Candidates are being asked to do more and more, but there is no scarcity of jobs to encourage them to participate in a more stringent process. Some candidates end up abandoning the process early. Others are hired by someone who realizes it is a candidate’s market and moves more quickly to make them an offer. Because of this, recruiters are asked to find more and more candidates, yet they are still working in a limited market. It is a self-perpetuating cycle.”

— Michelle Hawkins, Senior Healthcare Recruiting Specialist and a Team Lead at TalentCare 

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“The biggest challenge I’m facing right now is long lead times. Active candidates typically want a job NOW. In my own company, time-to-fill has gone from about one month to now two months. Keeping the best candidates engaged through this timeline is always tough. My advice? For candidates, always be looking. Never turn down an opportunity to interview because you never know when you’ll need your next job. For recruiters, targeting passive candidates who already have a job is a great way to meet their needs and yours!”

— Glen Loveland, HR Manager, Global Talent Acquisition of CGTN


“It used to be that we would have to compete for top talent with larger companies, but now we’re also competing with smaller start-up organizations. These start-ups are often willing to provide unique benefits (unlimited vacation, high educational allotment) that even large companies cannot provide. Not only that, start-ups often have the ability to entertain higher salary requirements since they are not limited by a concrete compensation structure like larger organizations. Even though staff are aware the start-up organization may sell in a few years, the option is still enticing enough to cause major competition for top talent.”

— Robin Schwartz, PHR, Managing Partner at MFG Jobs 

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“One of our biggest challenges is getting through to potential job candidates when sometimes hundreds of other recruiters are reaching out to them at the same time. The techniques that worked 10 or even 5 years ago just aren’t effective anymore. Candidates know they have choices, so it takes a lot of effort to really stand out. One of the ways we’ve tackled the issue is by highlighting the benefits of working for us beyond the typical salary/benefits (dog-friendly workspace, team happy hours, fully stocked kitchen!). Candidates, especially millennials, need to know you’re a company that really cares about its employees if they’re even going to consider applying.”

— Harrison Doan, Director of Analytics at Saatva 

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“One of the biggest issues in hiring today relates to hiring tech talent. With increasing mobile usage, online shopping and the Internet of Things, having a strong technology team in your corner is ubiquitous.

Unlike marketing or human resources, technology is still an emerging field in which the job candidate pool is somewhat limited. Often times these highly skilled candidates are looking to work remotely and usually require extensive new technology to do their job well. With specialized talent in low supply, your company has to compete with a slew of other companies to find and retain someone that fits your company’s need.

For Veterans United Home Loans which is headquartered in the Midwest, tech talent is sparser than on the coast. Thankfully, our company culture revolves around our values, one of which is “Be Passionate and Have Fun.” While finding talent presents an issue, our culture allows us to provide the flexible environment, generous benefits and frequent perks that help to retain the highly skilled employees we hire. However, if your company does not fit the needs of a tech candidate, that person can fairly easily find a company that does. Retention of highly technical talent is a national issue that can be solved by both employers and potential employees. Companies in demand of highly skilled talent can shape their company culture to be more flexible and offer the appropriate resources to get the job done. At the same time, we should encourage more students to pursue careers in STEM to fulfill our increasing technical demands. As technology develops nationwide, company culture and resources should, too.”

— Emily Clapp, PHR, SHRM-CP, Manager of HR programs and Talent Architect at Veterans United Home Loans

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“As a growing tech company with big aspirations, we’re relatively unknown in the US market. Especially when compared with our big competitors! Our biggest challenge is being able to attract exceptional talent when we’re in competition with more established players. How can we be noticed?

We’ve always had extremely high standards when it comes to hiring, but when you marry high standards with a relatively low brand recognition, it can prove quite a challenge to either attract the right talent or not let your standards drop.

One way we work to counteract this is to ensure a strong set of agreed-upon values, and that the candidates are assessed closely for this during the interview process. We want their values to match up with ours. This means we can uncover the types of people who aren’t necessarily drawn to the larger companies but want to work at a smaller startup where they can make a greater impact.”

— Jamie Finnegan, Head of Talent at

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“Our biggest hiring challenge is competing with larger and more well-known corporations for top talent. While we offer competitive salaries and a host of employee benefits, many times job candidates are more drawn to the perceived status and job stability associated with bigger companies. In some cases, these larger corporations are able to outgun smaller firms like ours by offering more enticing compensation packages with guaranteed bonuses and stock options. We’ve lost multiple potential new hires in the past who ended up choosing a more established business over ours. To combat this issue, we try our best to emphasize the upsides of working for a smaller company. Firms like ours offer greater flexibility in terms of work schedule, and there is more growth potential for new career coaches and resume writers who perform well to rapidly rise in seniority.”

— Peter Yang, Co-Founder of ResumeGo 

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“A large number of our hires join Frank Recruitment Group in entry-level positions and we see a great deal of interest in these roles from recent graduates. One of the major challenges we face in hiring from this population of candidates is that there is so much choice on the market for university graduates seeking their first role in full-time employment. We aim to set ourselves apart from our competition by promoting our unique company culture as well as our generous compensation structure and rewards program.

As our sales opportunities are open to candidates from any academic background, we are often in competition with other industries that are more directly-related to specific study fields. Some suitable candidates may simply not have considered a career in our industry as there is no direct link to their studies. However, we see great success from employees of all different academic backgrounds and work hard to raise our brand and industry profile amongst various education fields. We offer a full industry-leading training course to all employees so previous experience or exposure to our industry is not essential. Our company culture is diverse and hugely varied, and we welcome applications from all backgrounds.”

— Caroline Fox, Global Internal Recruitment Manager at Frank Recruitment Group

Lack of quality candidates

“The #1 recruiting challenge is, a lack of skilled, quality talent in a demanding location and industry.

Today’s job market is increasingly facing a deficit when it comes to specialized professions like engineering. The way to find success is to create a good customer experience throughout the process — from website to interview — that attracts high-quality candidates, whether they’re specialists who feel their value is recognized or more casual workers who can easily sense that the company is a-cut-above the myriad of other options available.”

— Darron Nelson, Recruiting Lead for Clara Lending 

Location has a lot to do with how easy it is to find impressive candidates. If you are a hiring manager working at a tech company in Buffalo, New York, it might not be as easy to find a quality candidate for a software developer role than if you were located in Silicon Valley.

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“One of the most common concerns we hear today from clients is that they are struggling to find candidates at all, especially qualified ones that they can even consider. An increased focus on finding the right talent and not making a poor hire has contributed to extending the time to fill beyond 30 days. Despite the challenges that a vacant position presents, it’s even worse to fill a job with the wrong candidate only to have to remedy the situation at a later date.

Higher-level roles, for example have a tendency to be more difficult to fill. You are dealing with a smaller pool of candidates, generally. Oftentimes higher-level roles consider people who need to relocate or who want to first use the rest of their PTO before making a move. All of these personal and unique factors have to be taken into consideration. Lower-level roles, on the other hand, tend to be easier to fill in a shorter amount of time because there tend to be less barriers to filling the position. The lower level roles are not without their own challenge, often times with these roles we are a faced with a sea of candidates that all look the same.

With a 4.4% unemployment rate, the market has shifted within the last decade from an employer-centric market to a candidate-centric one. It’s made the hiring landscape more and more competitive among employers. Candidates have their pick and are oftentimes entertaining multiple offers, which forces employers to mobilize to make these offers, benefits, and compensation more attractive to keep that competitive edge.”

— Stephanie Troiano, Account Manager and Executive Recruiting at The Hire Talent 


“Over the years the hiring challenges change. Sometimes in the companies favor, while other times in the candidates favor. The candidates have been favored for a long time. Yet now, a new problem has come up. Diversity. All companies want it, few truly understand how to get it. Diversity hires are not something you can solely look for. That’s the problem. You need to have an inclusion plan set in place. To get true diversity in the workplace, it takes years. You have to start somewhere and this is where companies fall short. They think this is something they can fix in a month. It’s frustrating for everyone involved. The sooner you begin to understand why diversity hires are important to a companies growth and not just a quota. The sooner this problem is solved.”

— Brianna Rooney, Recruiter of 10 years and Owner of Techees

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“In our experience, the biggest hiring challenge relates to diversity. Recruiters are struggling to get sufficient applications from ethnic minorities, women and those from lower-income backgrounds. This is particularly true in the tech sector, but certainly also applies to the banking/finance sector, and the accountancy/consulting sector.

Part of the problem lies with perception: many in those groups feel that they won’t fit in. And so the challenge for recruiters is twofold: to find ways to target them effectively (ie find out where jobseekers from those groups are active, both online and offline) and then to find messages that resonate with them. Testimonials from others from their group who have applied, been offered a role and started work at particular companies can often be effective in this regard.”

— James Rice, Head of Digital Marketing at Wikijob 

A true culture and company fit, for candidate AND company

“I believe that finding candidates who have a genuine interest in working at my company is one of the top challenges I face. Despite what I hear about finding qualified candidates, I feel that that’s less the issue than people sorting out the job applicants who are mainly interested in a job — and those who want *your* specific job.

While there’s nothing wrong with having a desire to just find and do a job (or a company that is mainly interested in filling a functional role), I believe a candidate is a better match in the longer term if they have a genuine interest in the culture and mission and products/services of your company. This is especially important to me as someone who runs a company with a social mission. There will always be good and bad times at a company and the people who want to work somewhere specific because of what the company does or stands for will tend to weather those ups and downs better, which is why I believe this is an important hiring challenge for companies to solve.”

— Georgene Huang, CEO & Co-founder of Fairygodboss

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“I think that the biggest challenge is creating a great company culture to attract and retain the best talent in today’s competitive hiring market. As employment numbers increase, people have more leverage in the market and it has become harder to attract and retain great talent. People are savvier today about figuring out if a place is a good one to work at. There are anonymous online tools like Glassdoor, and they can look at LinkedIn recommendations to see what people are saying about the company and co-workers. In a competitive job market, people will have more than one place they could work, and they evaluate resources like these.

To be successful in a more competitive hiring market you need to create a culture and business that people are really excited to work at. Then you don’t lose people, and word tends to spread about what a great place it is to work.

You can try to gloss over a crappy work environment with higher pay and perks, but ultimately, people leave their jobs because their manager is bad or because the company has a crappy culture that sucks the life out of them. But it’s hard to fake, you have to create an authentic, genuinely awesome place to work, or your best employees will go somewhere else that does.”

— Steven Benson, Founder and CEO of Badger Maps

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“It’s difficult to know if applicants will properly fit in well with your corporate culture and interact well with your current team. A firm understanding of how your current employees engage with each other will help to know what kind of questions you should ask candidates. Nothing is worse than hiring someone that doesn’t follow the flow of your organization.”

— Sean Fitzpatrick, President of TalentMap 

Hiring managers definitely have their difficulties, which is why the staffing industry is booming. Across the country, companies are looking for human resource managers to keep up with hiring needs. Check out this HR Manager position at PepsiCo.

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