Here’s how to think outside the box and when it comes to recruiting.
Everywhere you look, in real life and on the internet, employers are desperate to hire. With over 9 million vacancies in the country, recruiters may have the hardest job in any organization these days. The pressure is on to drive applications and interviews, but with no one responding, it may be time to get creative.
When applications are nonexistent, posting on job boards and in local papers may be a waste of resources. It may be time to revert to methods of recruitment that were used long before the internet, and methods that leverage the internet in a low (or no) cost way. Thinking outside the box may be the best way to drive traffic to your door and onto your payroll. Here are some ways to get candidates to look your way.
1. Create job events
A hiring event can prompt people who weren’t actively looking for work to stop by the table you’ve set up out front to see what’s going on, and maybe apply.
Everyone cranes their neck to see what’s going on when a shop or business is sporting tons of balloons at the front door. People are interested in events, so why not make one out of your recruitment efforts? A hiring event can prompt people who weren’t actively looking for work to stop by the table you’ve set up out front to see what’s going on, and maybe apply.
If you can, set up refreshments and/or activities for the kids and get the local paper to cover or pre-cover the event. A small investment in a bounce house will have the neighborhood kids clambering to stop by. While their parents are waiting, you may be able to pitch them a job offer. Post the event on your social media accounts to create even more buzz.
2. Work your customer base
Customers who come in to shop during hours that are difficult to fill may be an untapped resource. Consider asking them if they’re interested in part-time work. Offer a 5% discount if they fill out an application and agree to sit down and talk about available jobs.
Don’t want to be forward? Hand out applications with receipts, including a note on what you offer — including flexible hours, employee discounts, etc. If they’re not interested, ask them to tell their friends you’re hiring and offer them a 5% referral discount if they get someone to apply.
3. Don’t be above poaching
Poaching may be the shameful recruitment secret we don’t discuss, but when times are tough it’s every employer for themselves. Ask employees to suggest colleagues or even customers they work with or think might be a good fit, and have them suggest applying with you. Provide staff members with a listing of what positions are currently available, and ask them to keep an eye out for someone they talk to or interact with frequently that might be worth an interview. Offer a referral bonus to your staff members if they can make a match.
4. Make a community hiring event
Small businesses often cluster together on Main Street or in industrial parks. Make a hiring event a shared event among the businesses in your area. Consider putting together a sidewalk sale, set up tables outside — maybe even offer a sampling of your products (a wedge of your signature soap, taste of your killer chocolate cake, single flower, etc.) Have applications on hand and be ready to share with your neighbors. Someone who can’t work the shift you’re hiring for may be perfect for the florist up the street — and vice versa. Promote the event with signage in your stores and your social media pages the weeks before, to help drive more traffic.
You may not have a lot of foot traffic into your business, but local business associations can help. Ask your peers to hand out applications at the checkout line, or put up posters on their community information boards that you’re hiring or having an application event. If you’re in an industrial park, talk to your local authorities and place signs prominently along the major streets that access your location. If you’re looking for particular skills (or are willing to train), make sure to include that, as well.
5. Make up with your exes
Data shows about 1/3 of people who start a new job will quit within the first few months, often because the new position wasn’t what they thought it would be. If you have talent you’ve lost to the pandemic or the competition, try reconnecting them to see if they’d be interested in coming back into the fold. They may be hesitant to ask for their old job back if they’re unhappy, but might be thrilled to get a call from you.
Anyone eligible for rehire should be a priority to contact. Call, text, or email – let them know you hope their new position is working out, but if it isn’t, you’d love to have them come back. You might be surprised how many of your staff members have found the grass was not greener on the other side of the pasture, and would love to return. Bonus: they can hit the ground running.
Anyone eligible for rehire should be a priority to contact. Call, text, or email – let them know you hope their new position is working out, but if it isn’t, you’d love to have them come back.
6. Offer flexibility
Now that kids are going back to school there may be a wealth of parents who are interested in working, but still have to make it work around school drop-off and pickup times. These are your newest employees if you can be flexible and give them what they need.
If you can hire part-timers or create job shares that help parents make a few bucks while the kids are (finally) out of their hair, tell the world. Want to have fun with it? Hand out flyers with job opportunities, flex hours, and job share options to parents dropping off and picking up their kids with an application attached. You’ll be surprised how many parents will jump at the opportunity to work local a few hours a week. Need one 20 hour per week employee? Two 10 hour per week staffers can do the job as well.
7. Hire remote workers
If you can hire remote workers, you may have even more options. Another cohort of workers has found freedom in remote work during the pandemic and they’re not going back to wearing shoes on the clock any time soon. If you can create remote opportunities, jump on the virtual work bandwagon, and watch how many applicants will apply.
Almost any job that spends a bulk of time on the phone and/or a computer could be virtual.
You may have experimented with remote work during lockdowns, but consider expanding your options. Almost any job that spends a bulk of time on the phone and/or a computer could be virtual. Ask current employees how they could do their job remotely, and let them: then add to your workforce with others who can do the same.
8. Always be closing
Interviews have always been about sales: applicants try to sell businesses on hiring them. They pitch why they’re the best person for the job, and what they can do for the company. Businesses pitch why the job is right for the candidate and what benefits they will reap. In the past, the applicants were working harder on closing than the company, but today’s market has flipped the script.
In the past, the “sell” from the employer’s point of view wasn’t hard: we have a job, you want it. With fierce competition, it’s time to up your sales and closing game. You’ll need to talk about the job, of course, but the bulk of your interview time should be selling the organization to the candidate. Explain what you offer today, and where they can grow in the future. Put on your sales hat and ensure they’re excited about getting a job with your company.