The employment landscape is more competitive and creative talent are more in demand than even during the rapid growth period just prior to the great recession in 2008. In fact, the unemployment rate for college-degreed professionals this year has dropped monthly from 2.4% in August to 2.3% in September and, most recently, to 2% in October (which is essentially full employment) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Compounding this recruiting challenge is the fact that most corporations have instituted more complex and compliance-driven hiring practices which impact candidate identification, interviews, offers and onboarding processes. With the current employment market being so strong and candidates typically having a choice between multiple employment opportunities, if your candidates are unclear on the processes or timelines associated with these user-unfriendly corporate hiring practices, they are more likely to opt out of consideration. Hiring key talent is crucial to your department's success and fortunately, as a hiring manager, there are tactics you can utilize to navigate these challenging hiring processes.

Typically, a company's Human Resources or Talent Acquisition group owns the hiring of full-time headcount. Developing a relationship with the appropriate colleague in either of these groups and making sure your hiring priorities are taken into consideration will help ensure you identify the best possible talent. Make sure to educate yourself on the steps that will have to occur after you have identified the talent you wish to hire. Your counterpart in HR or TA will be able to inform you of those steps and how long it will take from extending an offer to having the full-time employee start on your team. A candidate who is not prepped and made aware of a lengthy background check, credit check, drug screen, etc., is more likely to get frustrated and move on to a different employment opportunity, so if you are privy to this process prior to an offer, you can help set the candidate's expectations in the interview process along with your HR or TA counterpart and increase your chances of securing the hire.

When hiring a contractor or a temp-to-perm talent you may be mandated to partner with a centralized contingent workforce group which may be a third party Master Staffing Provider (MSP) or an internal department at your company. This group is responsible for and owns a roster of candidates (typically making use of staffing agency partner relationships), hiring steps and onboarding compliance. Most third party MSPs use a Vendor Management System to manage the candidate submission, interview, onboarding processes and timesheet management in addition to many other reporting mechanisms and practices that benefit the greater corporation's ability to manage contingent workforce spend. Working within this system can be overwhelming.

As with the hiring of full-time staff, it is important to know who your point of contact is within the centralized contingent workforce service so you can make your priorities known and so you fully understand the candidate identification and vetting processes. As with full-time hires, the more clear you are on the onboarding process the better you can help to set expectations with the talent in conjunction with the MSP. This will help to mitigate the risk of losing candidates who become frustrated or are not prepared for a background check, employment verification, education verification, etc. Understanding how the MSP operates can also help you to identify challenges with the hiring process so you can partner with your MSP contacts to improve the process to better meet your contractor acquisition needs.

There are potentially three individuals associated with the hiring of contractors with whom you will want to build relationships, your day-to-day assigned point of contact who helps you arrange interviews, set up a requirement within the Vendor Management tool, etc., the program manager who is responsible for the overall execution of the centralized team's success, and the corporate sponsor of the MSP who is responsible for ensuring the needs of the business are met.

Finally, it can be quite helpful to identify and contact industry peers who consistently succeed in securing top talent and ask what has worked for them - this can be a peer inside OR outside of your organization. If you're having difficulty finding these individuals and you have a relationship with a staffing vendor who provides full-time candidates or employs contractors for your team, tap into their expertise as they can most likely provide contacts. These staffing experts are also often able to help you to expand your professional peer network beyond the need for investigating hiring best practices.

Bottom-line, if you are feeling frustrated with any form of hiring for your team, it is critical that you seek out and develop relationships with your internal colleagues who are responsible for securing the talent you need, are well informed of the associated processes and procedures and have the authority to make any changes needed to ensure you are empowered to hire the best possible staff for your team.