Your business lives or dies on your ability to find, hire and keep qualified, competent and engaged employees. But that job is getting harder, particularly on the recruiting side, according to a recent survey. While most HR professionals say that finding good job candidates is the biggest challenge they face, there are ways to loosen that bind, experts say.

Recruiters can expect to face tough competition as the war for talent heats up, according to a survey of 1,100 HR professionals conducted by Talent Technology, a recruiting software firm. Given the reduced number of qualified applicants looking for jobs, it will be highly beneficial for recruiters to make sure  they have a strategy for sourcing, marketing to and engaging with the right candidates when they need them.

There are three steps that companies can take to screen faster and hire smarter, according to a new white paper from Success Performance Solutions, an employment testing firm. Recruiters should start by using sourcing channels such as classified ads, job boards, social media and internal job boards more effectively.

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By using multiple sources, recruiters can slash their advertising costs through free and low-cost listing sites and allow ads to go viral through content marketing and social media. Multiple sourcing also expands the pool of potential applicants, both in terms of numbers and geographic location, and reaches both passive and active job seekers.

It's equally important for companies to employ efficient and accurate screening methods to reduce the potential candidate pool to a manageable size, according to Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions. Even with the most reliable and targeted sourcing methods, a company will still be bombarded with résumés from unqualified candidates. The purpose of employee screening is to quickly identify the wrong candidates as well as the right ones, he said.

The only way you can really understand what job candidates have to offer is by putting them though a screening process that exposes both their strengths and weaknesses. Some commonly used methods include applications; skill, personality and aptitude tests; interviews; and reference and background checks.

It's important that a company verify all information from résumés, ask the candidate specific questions and keep careful records of what is learned.

If a company uses all available sourcing and screening channels, it should have enough information on each job applicant to make informed decisions. The third, and last, challenge — and possibly the biggest — is how to manage all of it, Wolfe said.

One solution that is rapidly gaining traction with HR professions is implementing an automated application-processing system. Automated recruiting and screening can produce faster recruiting, higher productivity in the employee-selection process, more qualified applications and lower costs, he said.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

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