Four recruiting rules

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April 30, 2018

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Across the United States right now, business owners are faced with the challenge of rapidly bolstering their field staff after not receiving their H-2B workforce for 2018. With the intense competition for local talent, the traditional talent pools have diminished drastically. Even when they aren’t diminished, getting prospective job candidates to come into the office to apply is a serious challenge.

So, how do you successfully recruit in today’s challenging market?

In recent years, I’ve identified four rules that, if followed, can help to create a stronger recruiting pipeline and increase a company’s capture rate of applicants. Building a process around these four rules will work not only in large metropolitan markets, but also in more rural markets.

1. Identify what the ideal candidate looks like for your company.

Lifestyle, hobbies and other characteristics are all things to consider in a candidate. I like to draw the comparison to dating. About a decade ago I received sage dating advice from an old friend. He told me to always be where I would expect my future spouse to be found. That means if I am looking for someone who enjoys the outdoors, then I need to spend more time doing outdoor activities. If I want a churchgoer, then I need to be in church every Sunday. By identifying the characteristics of the ideal candidate, you will narrow your search and increase your prospects of success. In the business world, this is called targeted marketing.

How do you apply targeted marketing to hiring landscapers? A few years ago, I was recruiting a dozen new workers and a production manager for a large commercial contract in eastern Idaho. Through trial and error, I found that the best candidates for that local market were avid outdoorsmen and individuals needing work while their spouses attended college. After targeting these two demographics with our recruiting, there were significantly more people interviewing than we needed, and the candidates were of a higher quality than previously found.

2. Treat each candidate with the same respect that you would treat someone on a first date with.

This is the candidate’s first impression of you and your company, and just like you would be selling yourself and learning about the other person on a first date, you should be selling yourself and learning what you can about the candidate. Put your best foot forward by being on time to the interview, give the candidate a tour of the office and help them realize why your company is such a great place to work. Be prepared with wage limits for negotiating and never let the candidate leave without an offer or commitment to return within 24 hours. Remember that this is the best practice for field staff and not management positions. In today’s market, a field staff candidate who walks out the door without an offer is as good as gone.

3. Know that recruiting is seasonal just like landscaping, and it can be anticipated.

Most companies are trying to align their hiring with their work load, which is right, but they are not taking into account the season of recruiting. In eastern Idaho, the recruiting seasons are August, December and January. These are the biggest start and end times for semesters at the local schools and a lot of people are watching job boards during those months. The need wasn’t until March, but the supply was present in December and January, so we were interviewing all the way through February and hired everyone a few weeks early to not miss out on the talent. This meant we had a few weeks of under 40 hours spent training, but we didn’t hurt for people when we aligned our hiring with the peak season for recruiting.

4. For your recruiting to be successful, you need a project manager to drive the entire hiring process.

Just like a project manager keeps things flowing on a landscape installation, the hiring manager or HR manager should approach recruiting as a project and ensure things move forward by regularly communicating with all parties involved and hold them accountable to the process in place.

Ben Hardy is the manager of recruiting services at McFarlin Stanford.