It’s not your imagination — finding good employees in Washington state is very difficult right now. Unemployment has been below 5 percent statewide for more than two years and the market is even tighter in Seattle, where the rate reached 3.1 percent in March.

That’s why Approach Management Services and our HR services partner, All Things HR of Lynnwood, convened an HR roundtable to discuss strategies for recruitment. Angela Phillips, lead HR recruiter at All Things HR, then shared many of the group’s recommendations during a webinar.

Their main takeaway: Competition in hiring is the same as any other business activity. In a tight market, you’ll need to make a strong effort to get results. In other words, think of the job ad as your sales and marketing — it needs to be combined with a strong product (the job) in order to win the customers (job applicants) you’re trying to attract.

Once you’ve developed a job with the right mix of responsibility, benefits, and compensation, it’s time to get the word out to potential candidates. A good first step is to create a list of keywords for the job title and description. “Brainstorm as many phrases as possible, look at competitor listings, and use free keyword research tools on the Web like the Google AdWords Keyword Tool,” says Matt Evans of monster.com.

Next, Phillips recommends writing up a job description that reflects how the person in this position will fit into the company as a whole. “Would you apply for the job as written?,” asks Phillips. If not, maybe check with some of your best employees or look at ads from your competitors to get some ideas for second draft.

You’ll also want to describe your company in a way that will be interesting to job candidates. “This is a different group of people than your customers,” says Phillips, “so don’t just use the About Us page from your website.”

When it comes to qualifications, stick only to the ones that are definite must-have requirements. A long list in this section might discourage good candidates from applying.

Next, it’s down to the nuts and bolts items, such as location, schedule, compliance, and compensation. If the job board you’re using has separate boxes for these items, use them! These fields might be programmed to highlight the job posting, show your business location, or enable other features that can help more people to find your ad.

Now we are down to the bottom of the ad! Hopefully, good candidates have read the description and are excited to apply. Lots of people get confused or discouraged during the application process, so it can be helpful to describe the process and let them know how many steps are involved.

Once the position has been filled, go back and double-check three simple metrics from your job ad campaign:

  • How many people viewed your ad?
  • How many applications did you receive?
  • Which website or job board got the best response?

Save your ads that work the best to use as template and you’ll be ahead of the game for the next hire!

Approach clients, have a HR question or concern? Ask your retro coordinator about the HR help desk, powered by All Things HR.