Rules on recruiting

Rules on recruiting

Knowing what to do isn't the challenge faced by executives – finding who to do it is.

March 2, 2015

Jim Huston

I’m certainly not a recruiting expert so I’ll point you to two resources that you might find helpful. First is the book, “Who,” by George Smart and Randy Street. It may be a bit over the top for small businesses, but it’s a great resource to help you find talent for your company. Second is the book, “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins. It’s a business classic. Both of these will help you get your priorities right. As the cover of “Who” states, “Knowing what to do is not the major challenge faced by executives – finding who to do it is!” Here are some suggestions that you might find useful:

Internal recruiting. You and your company’s reputation can be two of the best recruiting tools that you have. Top-notch people and companies attract top-notch talent. I’ve heard it dozens of times from my clients.

Some of their best talent just walked in the front door one day looking for an opportunity. How do top-rated high school athletes decide where to go to college? It usually boils down to the reputation of the coach and/or the college. Work at being a great coach and building a great company.

Provide a financial incentive for your staff to recruit good talent. However, don’t pay for it unless the recruit works out for the long haul. Great teams don’t tolerate poor performance. If you have a great team that helps you recruit new staff, you can bet that they won’t recruit weak players. If a weak player does get through the screening process, the team won’t tolerate him or her for very long. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This cuts two ways. Losers will find losers and winners will find winners.

External Recruiting. Here are some resources that you might useful for recruiting purposes:

  • Websites such as Craigslist, Angie’s List and can be excellent resources for advertising your staffing needs. Remember, these sites are constantly evolving and morphing. Keep your ears open to new websites and opportunities.
  • helps you leverage your efforts by advertising your staff needs to numerous internet resources.
  • Industry trade journals: The classified ads of such publications can be very cost-effective. However, their target audience is usually national in scope. Regional publications provide a narrower readership.
  • Trade associations might provide limited assistance in this area but usually they do not. You should at least research local and national trade associations. They may be of some assistance.
  • Suppliers and vendors: Talk with your local suppliers and vendors. They might know about business owners who would rather be an employee than an entrepreneur and/or talented individuals looking for an opportunity.
  • Trade schools and high schools can be excellent resources. Smart entrepreneurs follow the pipeline backwards to its source. They also work with and assist such schools whenever they can. Offering an internship program to students can be a good way to build rapport with the schools while attracting good talent.
  • College internship programs can be an excellent source for new talent (again, follow the pipeline backwards).
  • College scholarships: One of my clients funds a landscape construction scholarship at a local university. The annual funding costs only a couple thousand dollars, but it gets my client great publicity and visibility on the landscape department’s radar screen.
  • One of my clients successfully recruits help from Puerto Rico. In fact, virtually all of his field staff is from Puerto Rico. Because they are American citizens, there are no immigration issues.


Stick with the process. A little creativity and a lot of common sense can go a long way when it comes to finding, training and keeping good people.

However, in order to attract good talent, you and your team need to have a great reputation. Create a “career-path” environment where people can have a career, not just a job.

Be sure to set measurable (quantifiable) and timeable (with due dates and deadlines) goals throughout your organization. This allows you to challenge your staff in meaningful and measurable ways. Finally, remember that recruiting is a never-ending process.


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Jim Huston runs J.R. Huston Consulting, a green industry consulting firm.;