Quarsh Blog

Why is there a shortage of suitable candidates?


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Why is this a problem?

As well as not having the right people to deliver work, a huge amount of time is wasted when a parade of candidates isn’t right. Back to the drawing board, or maybe hiring someone who “might” be right, and then spending months trying to exit them. That’s not considering the cultural impact of quick churn. Businesses can’t grow without good people.

Why aren’t there any good candidates?

Phew, that’s a huge question. So let’s take the basics. First, look at who and what you need. Now, analyse your sourcing mix. Then, how are you selecting and assessing candidates. Finally, is your offering up to scratch? Is the problem them, or is it you?

Let’s take each in turn…

What are you looking for?

If you go shopping without any idea of what you’re going to cook, it’ll take you longer to decide what to buy and when you get home you may not have the ingredients for a full meal. It’s the same with recruitment. Are you clear on what you need, not just what you want? Do you know where people with those skills are at the moment? Do they exist? Are you choosing the right methods of reaching and attracting them? Which brings us neatly to the next point…

Where are you looking?

Your sourcing mix should be wide and appropriate, comprising advertising, proactive sourcing and/or headhunting, market mapping, social media, networking and much more. Agencies can form a vital part of the mix but need to be handled as partners, not suppliers, to get the best result, and shouldn’t be the only thing you rely on. If you don’t have the time to do all of the above, call us; we’ll help you to find a way.

How are you selecting and assessing?

This is very tricky to cover in a short blog, as you might be either too rigid or too flexible! Too rigid and you’ll risk stifling creativity and flow; too flexible and either you or the candidate knows for sure whether the opportunity is right. In both cases, everything slows down. Find a happy medium. Make sure you’re able to assess accurately against your requirements and consider using additional tools such as psychometrics, but take care to match the procedures to your business needs and not go for “best in class” just because they’re there.

What are you offering?

It’s not just about money. Your Employer Value Proposition (or EVP) is just as important as your compensation and benefits, so find out and pay attention to what the market is saying about you. What are your career progression opportunities? Are you trying to recruit above your company’s natural level? Or are you not aiming high enough? Some hiring managers just don’t like to hire superstars. Be clear about what you are offering and why, and communicate it.

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I’ve thought about all of that and I still can’t find good people…

If there really are no good candidates for your positions, maybe you should be asking yourself some different questions. Does the person you’re looking for exist? Are you trying to fill a position that was an amalgam of lots of different responsibilities because the last person in the role took on a wide selection of weird and wonderful things? Is your business situated in the right geographic location? Are the skills you’re looking for vanishingly rare and you still insist on having four candidates to choose from? Perhaps it’s time for some difficult conversations!

Useful tips

So much to cover in one short guide! This is really just scratching the surface, so call us to explore your environment in more detail. The few hints and tips below are to get you started.

Getting the framework right

Push everyone to be clear on what they need, why and when.

Marketing your roles

Think about how a role will develop and what else you might be able to achieve with different skills combinations. Then draw up a role profile and break that into likely background, skills, training and education. Finally, create some candidate briefing materials that will truly sell your opportunity.


Analyse the what, where and how, and keep track of performance for all sourcing channels. You can then focus on and spend more resources in the areas that work best, or invest more heavily in the areas that should be performing better. Analyse advertising mediums; try alternatives; train internal recruiters to source better; if you use agencies, do everything you can to partner with them more effectively. Become a client of choice.


 To start with, get some feedback from hiring managers and new recruits on how they feel the recruitment process suits them, anonymously via surveymonkey works well for us. Then look at long term effectiveness and performance of new recruits.


Look at your Glassdoor rating; do a survey of recent hires and unsuccessful candidates; talk to long term employees. To improve your EVP, there are a number of things you can do – get your online presence really zinging; push a social media campaign; create a section on your website and LinkedIn pages featuring vines or short videos, case studies and “days in the life”.