Recruitment is About Being the Hunter, not the Hunted

By: Robin McKay

Over the past years I have give dozens of seminars and speeches on the selection process. It doesn't matter if I am in Invercargill, Auckland, Napier, Sydney, or Singapore, I always hear the same complaint: "Rob our area is different, there is a great shortage of talent here, we just can't find good people".

Yes, we do have record employment figures, but let me shake you up a bit - there is NO shortage of talented people in your area - the truth is that the most productive, motivated, successful, talented people already have jobs!!

Talented people don't just land on your doorstep when you have a job. Your prime job as a manager is to create a PROACTIVE recruiting strategy that taps into the passive job candidate. If you want a team of truly talented people you can't wait for people to come to you, you have to go 'big game hunting'.

I have never seen great hiring decisions made by managers who are only attracting the desperate or the unemployed. You can bet your "bob & dollar" that the best candidates for you business are not amongst the ranks of the unemployed.

Developing a proactive recruitment strategy means developing a continuous hiring process. You will not find the best people launching into the recruitment mode when you have a vacancy. This strategy usually leads to hiring the best of a bad bunch. Hiring is a lot like dating - as desperation rises, standards slip!

A question I frequently ask in my hiring seminars is, "When you have a vacancy how do you start recruit?" In just about all cases the answer will be to put an advert in the newspaper.

Advertisements in the newspaper are estimated to attract the bottom 30% of performers in any job role. Think about it, who continuously trawls the employment pages of the press? Usually those who are getting the squeeze for better performance in their current position or those already pushed out.

There is an argument that press advertisements are good for targeting people new to an area, or those looking for a career change, but advertising in the press should only be a small part of your recruiting effort, not the total panacea. And make sure these adverts are worded to attract people looking for a challenge not a paycheck!

You will occasionally get a great person via the classifieds, but I guarantee to find that person will be like looking for a murder weapon in a rubbish tip! Usually classified ads bring in a combination of the frustrated, terminated, curious tyre kickers, confused and miss-aligned (to the job) applicants - people who are poor performers in their current position and now want to dump this poor work attitude on to you.

Let's look at some other options. Recruiting from your own ranks rates the best - is that receptionist your next sales star! What about encouraging your current team to recommend people. Many companies pay "spotting fees", but these are usually too small and the rewards too far out for people to bother. I've seen a $500 bonus (50% on hiring and 50% in 90 days) work really well.

Debriefing new hires when they start is an untapped source. Ask the new recruit if they have colleagues or know of others in their network that would be worthwhile approaching.

Businesses or industries where there is a degree of uncertainty are also ripe for the picking. Good talent gets restless when there is a change in the wind - new leaders, mergers, buyout etc. Targeting these businesses often reaps great rewards.

I like radio advertising, although it is expensive because you need frequency, it is great at reaching those talented people not "looking" for a job, but may be stimulated enough by your challenge to enquire or apply.

The Internet is another great source, not just for advertising, that's not proactive recruiting! Use the Internet to search for resumes. A small fee to join one of the many popular job sites will give you access to hundreds of resumes.

One of my clients created some very inexpensive recruitment cards - these were the same as business cards - he called them Eagle Calling Cards. Whenever he was out and about and met someone who was an eagle (as opposed to a turkey!) he hand them a card and said, "We are always on the look-out for great customer service people like you, if you are ever thinking of leaving this position give me a call." These cards were printed double sided, introduce the company and the exciting opportunities and benefits of working there.

Instant on site application forms are another good idea, especially for retailers - Take the proactive attitude of Overland Shoes. They have a fabulously designed postcard that is scattered throughout their stores. I love the call to action and eye-catching artwork that "speaks" to the target audience. It says, "Join Our Team! Fun, Rewarding, Dynamic, Energising, Motivating."

Working your own network is also powerful. You know hundreds of people. Use direct mail, email, notices in your business communications, alerts on the FRONT page of your website, signs on company vehicles, in your premises and on community notice boards etc. I am sure your team could come up with many unique ways to "put the word out".

We don't have the space here to explore all the proactive recruiting options. Why not get your team together for a beer/wine and pizza brainstorm. Start writing up PROACTIVE ways to reach those passive candidates and stimulating them to apply through a creative (and honest) recruitment message. At one such client session a crazy idea turned into a winner - fly an aeroplane banner over holiday beaches on a summer weekend! Now that's brainstorming.

Remember, if you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting what you got!

Human Resources
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