CelebrateFor many employers, talent shortages have become the new normal. As a result, many of them have already adapted their hiring strategies in order to better thrive in a perpetually talent-starved climate.

That being said, the fact is an employer can’t afford to get too comfortable in these rapidly changing times. The talent shortage that we have all come to know and loathe has worsened, according to ManpowerGroup’s “2015 Talent Shortage Survey.” It has reached a seven-year high, with 38 percent of hiring managers across the world struggling to fill positions.

Faced with this reality, employers find that last year’s cutting-edge hiring processes may be downright pedestrian this year. Even so, some employers have failed to adapt, as the ManpowerGroup survey shows that 20 percent of them are not doing anything different to cope with talent shortages. In fact, it seems that many employers are moving backward: average hiring times have increased from 12.6 days in 2010 to 22.9 days in 2014, according to Glassdoor research.

In light of these worsening talent shortages and increased hiring times, I thought it would be good to outline some innovative ways for employers to attract talent in these difficult times:

1. Billboard Ads

Many believe that the typical billboard advertisement has no place in a modern-day recruitment strategy. Not only is it a declining advertising medium in an overwhelmingly digital age, but it is also a medium that has been principally used for consumer advertising, not recruitment advertising.

Despite its bad rep, the billboard is actually a fairly effective medium. Research shows that American travelers spend more than 18 hours a week on the road, and 71 percent of these travelers “often look at the messages on roadside billboards.”

Moreover, American travelers respond pretty well to billboards. For example, 58 percent have visited restaurants they learned about via billboards, 33 percent have remembered to watch a T.V. show because of a billboard, and 44 percent have tuned into a radio station as a result of roadside billboards.

AdsGoogle and several other companies have used billboard job advertising in one form or another to successfully attract talent. In a primarily digital marketing age, the more obscure practice of billboard advertising has become an innovative way to find talent in a competitive market.

Employers interested in billboards need to be aware that billboard advertising only succeeds when it is done skillfully and adeptly. Before you go the billboard route, consider involving a seasoned ad agency in your creative process.

2. Staging a Competition

Another innovative way to attract potential talent is to stage a competition. Of course, you don’t want just anybody to participate in your competition: you want participants who are also potential hires. That is why your competition should require contestants to use a critical skill required in your business.

For example, if you are struggling to find designers, you could run a design contest with a very enticing award. If you are an engineering firm, your contest should require participants to solve some kind of intriguing engineering problem.

You’ll need to create plenty of buzz around your contest, and you’ll need to market your contest well enough that it reaches your target audience. If you carry out the contest well, you should receive plenty of entrants and uncover lots of potential talent.

Contests have been very popular in the IT sphere, with companies like Google, Yahoo, and others all holding coding contests to engage with fresh talent. That being said, contests can potentially be deployed in any industry.

3. Open-Ended Job Descriptions

Upworthy was one of the first companies that I had heard of implementing an open-ended job posting. Employers using open-ended job descriptions post an ad on a job board, but leave the job title, job description, and candidate specifications blank. This is an innovative approach which gives companies the opportunity to reverse engineer the typical speculative job application. With open-ended job advertisements, employers can receive speculative applications when they actually need them.

A person who applies for an open-ended role is very likely to be highly engaged with and knowledgeable about your organization. Sure, you’ll get some wild-card entrants, but for the most part, the people who apply are doing so because they want to work for your company. These people aren’t trawling job boards for any and every position for which they might be a match — they’re looking for opportunities with employers they feel strongly about.

Check back tomorrow for three more tips in “6 Innovative Ways to Attract Talent in a Tight Labor Market, Part 2″

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