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8 Ways to Improve Your Recruiting Efforts
By Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette

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 clear:

  • The war for talent is far from over.
  • It is a war for talent, not a war for warm bodies.

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 under 30.

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 referral bonus.

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.

We are proud to announce today that we have teamed with Geoff Knue and Susan Van Hooser of the Geoff Knue Agency to represent us for speaking and training engagements. Extremely talented (and nice) sales professionals, Susan and Geoff have agreed to represent a small, exclusive group of professional speakers. We're delighted to have the opportunity to work with them, and know that our clients, new and old will appreciate their professionalism and fresh approach to doing business.

Please feel free to contact Geoff via phone 317-873- 0011 or email at for information regarding having Bill or Richard speak for your organization's next meeting.

Want a more engaged workforce? Want the performance benefits of creating a great place to work? Bring Bill Catlette or Richard Hadden in to speak or conduct leadership training for your organization, or to keynote your association's next convention.

Contact Geoff Knue at 317-873-0011 or to find out how we can make your next meeting a colossal success!

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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