The hiring landscape has become more fast-paced and competitive with Twin Cities companies vying for talent.

“It’s the most competitive I’ve seen it in the past eight years,” said Chris Dardis, vice president of HR search and consulting for Versique. “What we are really seeing, especially if you are talking about candidates who have a specific technical skill set, i.e. if it’s an IT developer, … specialists are really being sought after right now.”

The unemployment rate for people 25 to 64 in Minnesota who have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher was 2.2 percent in 2014, according to American Community Survey statistics. In the Twin Cities, overall September unemployment fell to 3.1 percent, its lowest level since 2000.

That means companies need to realize they won’t always be in the drivers’ seats, said Susie Dircks, director of business development for Jeane Thorne Staffing.

“The tables are turning and companies now need to recognize that they are selling what they have to candidates,” Dircks said.

With the tight labor market in mind, recruitment and human resources professionals shared their tips on how to attract new employees.

Lose the laundry list

It would be nice to find that perfect candidate that has all 15 skill sets that your company is looking for, but it is not realistic. Figure out what traits are most important, said Jim Kwapick, district president of recruiting and placement firm Robert Half.

“You may have a list of 10 things but you better figure out what three are most important,” Kwapick said. “Because Mr. or Ms. Perfect that has all 10 probably doesn’t exist. They are probably employed.”

Instead, Dircks says to pare down that list of requirements and hire the person who is willing to learn and mesh well with the company culture.

“Give up a little bit on some of the required skills and hire the person who’s got the style and behavior and who is going to align with your values,” Dircks said. “A lot of things can be trained.”

Quicker is better

With a lot of opportunities for job candidates, companies need to move through the process quickly before talented individuals are snatched by another company, Dircks said.

“One of the places we get hung up with clients is when they wait too long to find the perfect candidate and in doing so they lose the best candidate,” she said.

If steps such as extra eyes on résumés or a phone interview that is probably unnecessary, experts say to cut them out.

“It’s a speed game,” Kwapick said. “If you got some arduous, archaic, slow processes, [candidates] are going to have three other job offers.”

Yet it’s a delicate balance, because a company can’t skip the steps in vetting a candidate and want to make sure the person is a good fit for the company.

During interviews, be sure to ask the right questions about why the person wants to work in the company and clearly explain what the role entails, said Sara Lommel, director of human resources for technology services provider Marco Inc.

Lommel also suggests advertising job openings in multiple locations, in essence going to wherever the prospective employees are online, including career-specific sites and social media sites such as LinkedIn.

Be flexible

Job candidates, especially those who have interest from more than one company, are in a position to negotiate packages. One of the benefits in demand these days is a flexible schedule, whether that’s the hours they work or the ability to work from home part of the time.

Employees really appreciate the autonomy to be able to do their job “in a manner that makes them the most comfortable,” Dardis said.

“More and more people are starting to ask for more flexibility or autonomy in how they do their jobs where I think, gone are the days of face time from 7:30 to 5:30 at your desk,” Dardis said.

Even if they are in the office, sometimes it’s not their desks. The key is to think in terms of being results-driven and talk about how to monitor productivity, Dardis said.

Give more responsibility

Offer rookies more opportunities to work on bigger, more meaningful projects, Dardis said. People who are early in their careers really want to be challenged, he said.

“I think companies used to have the attitude of ‘Hey, when you come into an organization you have to earn your stripes before you work on something important.’ ” Dardis said. “But more and more now, we’re seeing individuals leave their current role because they say ‘I’m not working on anything meaningful.’ ”

Get back to folks

The biggest complaint Dardis hears from job seekers is, “I applied for the job … and I never heard anything.”

Companies should have a process in place so that everyone who contacts the organization about a job is replied to, Dardis said.

Not only is it good etiquette, but communicating effectively also reflects well on the company’s brand, Dardis said.

Also, don’t be afraid to communicate with your applicants the way it makes sense for them, Dircks said, for example texting instead of e-mail. “Meet the client, the candidate where they are at. … Because then what the candidate sees is adaptability.”


Twitter: @nicolenorfleet