As odd as it may sound, given the overall tone of
recent economic news, two areas of concern we hear
a LOT about from our clients and from audiences
everywhere, are recruiting and retention.
While the overall U.S. unemployment rate rose to
5.7% in July, the labor market picture from region to
region, and from industry to industry, is highly
variable. Amid all the uncertainty, two facts remain
- The war for talent is far from over.
- It is a war for talent, not a war for
Here's a non-exhaustive list of some things you can
do now to improve your recruiting outcomes. Next
month we'll look at the same for retention.
1. Start focusing on your employment brand, and on
your reputation as an employer. Don't have either?
Start building them now, then vigorously protect them
as you would your product brand and reputation.
2. Start recruiting at the middle school level. College
is too late. High school is too late. Go into the schools
of the youngest teenagers and let them know that your
industry is cool, and affords the opportunity to learn,
grow, do important work, and make good money. It'll
take about 8 to 10 years to start paying off. But haven't
we learned anything about advance planning,
from $4 gas?
3. If you find someone who should be working in your
company, be prepared to hire them, even if you
don't have an open position for them. Then give
them something meaningful to do. The chances of
you having an opening in your company at the precise
moment the best person for the job has an opening in
his or her career are astronomical. Stop staffing by
chance, and be deliberate about who gets to work
with your organization.
4. State the value proposition of working for your outfit
in terms of meaningfulness and career
opportunities. Everybody touts benefits
and "competitive compensation". Set yourself apart by
telling them what their work will mean. What
importance the work has. And what kind of career is
possible. Do this especially if you're recruiting people
5. Sharpen your online presence. Look at your
website. Can a job hunter see, within one second
(that's right - one second), where to click to find
career opportunities? And is there anything
compelling him or her to click? Or do you have the
word "Careers" in 6-point type at the bottom of your
page? Compare your home page to those of
convenience store QuikTrip and East Alabama Medical
Center, and see how yours stacks up.
6. Look at your job ads, online, and in print. How do
they compare to your competitors for talent? Would
you apply? If you're serious about this, ask a
20something to look at your ads alongside competing
ones, and ask them to tell you which ads they're
compelled to pursue.
Think outside (way outside) the box. Given a daunting
recruiting task, the U.S. Army sponsors a NASCAR
car. Think 200 mph recruiting machine. Since duty at
your place probably isn't as tough, you likely don't
need to adopt measures that extreme, but you
get the picture.
7. Aggressively manage a system of "in network"
employee recruiting and referrals. Actively solicit the
help of your current workforce in bringing in similarly
talented folks. Give your employees information and
materials to help market your company. And then
meaningfully reward them for making referrals that
result in a successful hire. We're talking serious
money. If you'd pay thousands to a search firm that
has little vested interest in the success of the results,
why not do the same for your employees who do?
Make the reward at least 15% of the new hire's annual
salary, and you'll start seeing a lot more high-quality
leads coming in. At the very least, spice up your
referral bonus program with some variety and
excitement. One of our clients lets referring
employees spin a "wheel of fortune" containing a wide
range of cash awards and prizes to determine their
8. Offer a try-before-you-buy option. As we wrote about
in our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk, one
Alphagraphics printing shop we know of pays pre-
screened potential hires a day's wages to work with
their team for a day; a measure which gives both
parties the opportunity to make an informed decision
and opt out, before it's too late. This not only narrows
the risk, but also makes plain from the very start that
the organization is deadly serious about employment
matters. Moreover, their meticulous care sends a
message to the person that he or she must be joining
an elite organization, thus creating high expectations
that in turn breed high performance, and which can
help with employee retention -
- which will be the subject of next month's Fresh Milk.
See you then.