This post first appeared on Heather Hankinson’s As Good as Her Word blog. When we saw it, we wanted to share it here and Heather kindly agreed. We think you’ll appreciate her down to earth approach to finding the right candidates...
Finding new staff is really, really difficult. It’s difficult for multinational corporations with entire HR departments, it’s difficult for long-standing businesses, it’s difficult for start-ups, it’s difficult for Bill Gates. Everyone knows that people are a key factor in success but it’s easier said than done when that means attracting the right person, realising they are the right person amongst all the candidates, and then managing their expectations to get them off to the right start.
How do you start the hunt? The culture of your organisation that I’ve spent the past five weeks banging on about is a good starting point: is your business somewhere with an attractive personality, GSOH, who likes walks on the beach? Because if you’ve grown an authentic and unique culture then over time I’ll wager you’ll have applicants come to you.
But you already know how important I think culture is and even if you have it, when you do decide that you can’t manage everything in your business yourself and need to take the scary plunge of employing someone, start by brainstorming the places your perfect employee might hang out. Instead of paying Seek or CareerOne for a pretty generic ad, first ask yourself:
- Where do they shop? Where do they eat out?
- What do they like to do on their days off?
- How do they like to portray themselves?
- What are their habits?
You may think this is all irrelevant and will narrow your field so completely that you’ll miss most of your potential candidates but what you are really doing is increasing your efficiency and sticking to your cultural values. Say you need to hire a new estate agent for your team, for example: are you a ‘family values’ business or are you aiming for a swanky, boutique feel? For the first, you might put up posters in the local park or family-friendly cafe, for the latter you might ask to leave brochures in a fashionable clothing store.
Once you’ve spent at least 20 minutes scribbling ideas on an A4 piece of paper, see if any of these resources might be a way to reach out to that perfect candidate:
- Ask your employees if they know anyone, or their friends know anyone, or their kids know anyone. If each employee roughly knows a few hundred people in the area and you have more than one employee, then friends’ of their friends would be a circle of thousands of potential referees. Simple but surprisingly underutilized,
- Gumtree – for trades or uni student roles in particular, usually so cheap that it’s always worthwhile,
- Local media – not TV, I’m talking school or church newsletters, cafe or gym bulletin boards, even a local market stall,
- Client email update or your business’ Facebook page – even if you don’t get any referrals, phrased correctly, it’s an advert of your business itself because the traits you are looking for should be why your customers use you,
- School career advisor – if you need a weekend casual or junior, I strongly recommend contacting the local schools to see if you can spend 5 minutes in one of their assemblies outlining why your business rocks and what type of stella employee you are after. You’ll be surprised how enthusiastic most schools are, especially near the end of a school year.
- Consider holding a free seminar or open evening and inviting local professionals to network, mingle, have a beer, and obviously at some point in the evening make sure it’s clear (but not tacky) that you have a position to fill. Please make sure the evening reflects your business: there’s no point creating an illusion and attracting the wrong sort of people,
- Facebook! I highly recommend that you have a play with Facebook ad manager (use the boosted post function) and search for your perfect candidate using their extremely fine-tunable parameters. It’s scary how much information they have on people, you may as well use it to your advantage. And you can set the budget as low as you like.
Above all, be creative. It might take more leg work but an ad online can set you back $300 and won’t show your business’ personality half as well.
Of course, all this goes hand in hand with knowing what type of employee you want, so three guesses what I’m writing about next week?
PS. If you are still tempted by a regular old online ad, remember: businesses generally get the staff they deserve. If you think you deserve brilliant, committed and sincere staff then start by being brilliant, committed and sincere in your hiring process.
Read more of Heather’s thoughts on recruitment, culture and a whole lot of other stuff on her blog!
Let us know what you think below
Have you tried any of these ways of hunting for the right candidate? How did it work for you?