While this is not an ideal situation, there are a few steps to take:
1. What did you learn the first time around?
The only way to solve a problem that you’re having with candidates is by figuring out what the problem is. Are they unqualified? Was your initial idea of what you were looking for off-the-mark? Are they completely over/under-qualified as a group? Are there numerous candidates who are worthy of the job but you just don’t feel like any is the “right” one?
Once you’ve figured out what the actual problem is, the solution will be clearer to you. While it seems natural, throwing your arms up in frustration will actually not garner more applicants for a job.
2. Get a second opinion
There is a chance that you’ve simply been too hard on the candidates in your screening process. The perfect candidate almost never exists, so don’t hold out for something you won’t get. Know that you’re going to mold the candidate into what you need them to be – this certainly doesn’t mean you should settle on someone, but it does mean that you don’t need someone who matches every single criteria you can come up with. If you can’t let yourself relax on the standards, a second (or third) set of eyes may help shed some light on your expectations. Find someone within your company whose opinion you value, then let that person take a look at the candidate pool. There is a solid chance that they’ll see something that you won’t.
3. Reassess the job
Sometimes when a manager is having a difficult time with candidates, there is a disconnect between what they thought they wanted and what they actually need from a candidate. If the candidates are not matching up with your expectations, take another look at people who have recently held the open position and try to figure out what exactly made them successful. Write this information down separate from the job requirements, and then compare the two lists. If they do not match up, then you’ve found your problem.
4. Think about what you’re offering
This is often related to reassessing your job. Perhaps you’ve written a job ad that states you want someone with 10 years of experience and are willing to pay them $65,000/year. However, as you search through your candidates, the ones who would take $65,000 do not have 10 years experience – meanwhile, those who do have the experience are all stating that they’d need $90,000 or more. The only real way around this is to figure out which one you’re willing to sacrifice. If the amount of experience is less important, then you can make your $65k offer, but if you feel that you need the experience, you’ll have to make a financial concession. On the bright side, a great employee is usually worth a lot of money to the company.
5. Advertise more
Spending extra money is rarely what a hiring manager wants to do, but it is the reality of the search. If you need more candidates, you must spend more money on advertising. Whether this means doubling your presence on sites like Craigslist, CareerBuilder, or LinkedIn, or finding a niche site that targets a different market, you’ll need to find ways to reach more (and new) job-seekers. In order to reach a different crowd, look into targeted pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns as a way to reach a group that you think is on-pace with what you want. We’ve found a lot of success with Indeed sponsored ads (PPC campaigns).
There is no “trick” to getting the right people to apply when you’re not satisfied with the current applicants. However, there are a lot of methods that could help boost the candidate pool when you’re sensing that something is missing.