Employers are readjusting their recruitment tactics and castinga wider net to fill many professional occupations, according to aRobert Half survey.

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The survey of more than 2,200 CFOs in 20 U.S. metropolitan areasfound that a majority are having a tough time filling vacancies, exacerbated by the fact thatthe unemployment rate for college-educated workers is roughly 2percent.

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When asked how challenging it is for their company to currentlyfind skilled candidates for professional-level positions, 20percent of the respondents say it is very challenging; 45 percentsay somewhat challenging; 24 percent say not challenging; and 12percent say the question is not applicable to them or they arecurrently not looking to fill such positions.

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“With skilled professionals in short supply, hiringstrategies that worked well a few years ago may no longer beeffective,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director forRobert Half. “Smart businesses are retooling their recruitingpractices to feed the talent pipeline.”

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Employers are broadening their recruiting efforts in a number ofways, according to the survey. For example, when asked what theirorganization has done to adapt its approach to hiring in-demandaccounting and financing professional who are in short supply, 51percent of respondents say they are considering college students orrecent graduates for roles that historically weren't open to them;51 percent are expanding their search geographically; 47 percentare hiring interim accounting and finance professionals to evaluatethem for full-time roles; 46 percent have accelerated the hiringprocess to avoid losing candidates' interest; and 43 percent haveloosened the must-have criteria to consider more candidates.

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Robert Half recommends that employers re-examine their hiringcriteria, and figure out which “must-have” attributes and skillscan be taught on the job with a strong onboarding program.Employers should also amp up active recruitment, and take theopportunity to describe their company's job opportunities no matterthe event.

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Another strategies to tap a wider base of professionals includegiving potential employees the option to work remotely, if thenature of the job allows for it; partnering with staffingprofessionals who can help quickly find and secure candidates thatemployers may not be able to identify on their own; and leveragingemployee referrals.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.