As the professional landscape goes through a dramatic change with all the Baby-Boomers retiring and leaving the workforce, there is a dramatic change in the talent pool. Over the next few years, while unemployment is at record lows (sub 4%), it will become increasingly important to attract the best possible employees.

There are many ways to make positions more attractive to bright young college students, but the question remains: What are the most plausible ways to entice these people without raising salaries?

Many believe that benefits will take the brunt of that responsibility, while others think performance-based bonuses and incentives will. The only problem with these ideas is that it still costs money to give these benefits.

There is one solution to this problem, and that is to offer “flexibility” to your employees. Many employers are finding that giving their employees flexible schedules and flexible work options (such as working from home twice a day) are drawing many people that would otherwise shy away from a position within that company. The allure of only having a 3-day-a-week commute can be very attractive and has become a growing non-monetary benefit that is easy for employers to offer. This not only helps attract better talent, but also allows for a shared workspace where another employee can use the telecommuter’s desk while they are working from a remote location. The same concept also applies to the flexible work schedule.

This simple benefit can not only bring in better talent at a lower cost to the employer, but it can also contribute to the enhanced productivity of having multiple workers contributing from the same piece of real estate.

How to find and hire the best available talent

One of the biggest challenges in hiring a professional to join your organization is weeding through the dozens of applicants that come to your attention. There are many ways to help thin the flood of applicants. Some tricks you can use to figure out who is serious and who is just “floating out a resume” is to ask and require applicants to jump through some hoops such as writing an introduction explaining why they would be a good fit for the position, or how they would benefit the company with their particular skill set. You can establish a simple form of testing that requires applicants to visit a website and answer several questions about their past, or regarding their work and talents that could be beneficial to the company. While these won’t deter all weak applicants, it will definitely thin the group of hopefuls and allow for less legwork on your part.

Another option is to outsource the project to an outside agency: a recruiting firm. Although they can be expensive, recruiting firms free up a great deal of man-hours for you and other members of your team to do other things that are more in line with your job description. The advantages are that most recruiters will shelter you from the non-desirables who have no business applying for a job they are not suitable for. Along with the screening and man-hours, most recruiting firms offer a guarantee with their candidates and will be inclined to go the extra mile to ensure that you have the right candidate in the position. This guarantee is for your benefit just as much as it is for your peace of mind. There is nothing more unattractive to a recruiter than having to go back and do a search all over again (with no additional fee) once they have already done the work.

So if you’re looking to save some trouble and make the “right” hiring choice, you need to be proactive and have candidates jump through hoops, or take advantage of the services you can acquire from a variety of professional recruiting firms.