Hiring Problems? Maybe You’re Getting What You Ask For

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By LauraLee Rose, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

HELP WANTED:

Line Operator.  $9-9.50 and hour.  Candidates must be able to pass drug screen, background screens and math testing.

Engine Assembler.  Duties:  Final Inspection of Parts.  Assemble parts.  Remove engine from stand and load onto mono rail to dyno.  Work environment:  Exposure to oil, grease, dirt, chemicals, varying temperatures and loud noises.

Assembly Position.  Well established, growing manufacturing business has full time assembly position available.  Fully paid benefits, paid vacation, 401K, EOE.  NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.  Apply online at: xxx.

Production Worker.  Job description: Production work in machine shop.  Skilled in the use of basic inspection tool equipment such as calipers, micrometers, depth gauge, etc.  Provide regular maintenance of machines including lubrication, coolant levels and cleaning.  Self-motivated and able to work with minimum supervision.  Pay schedule is based upon knowledge and experience.

WOW! I can’t imagine why folks aren’t lining up for these jobs!  These are snippets from actual ads for manufacturing positions in Missouri.  I just spent an hour online looking at job boards…my eyes glazing over, despair setting in, hope waning…and I’m not even looking for a job!

While sinking into depression browsing through all the negativity in these help-wanted ads, only two among the hundreds stuck out as any different from the rest.  I still think these could be better, but they’re moving in the right direction.

Production Laborer.  1st shift.  2 openings.  Are you looking for a company that promotes from within? Are you the type of person that, if given the chance, will shine? Our Production Laborer position is the first step towards a career in manufacturing. This is an entry-level position with an opportunity to grow!  Medical, dental, vision, 401K, paid time off (PTO) and holidays.  Uniforms and a boot allowance!  Are you ready to take the next step?  APPLY NOW!

Production Associate – Manufacturing.  We are relentless innovators who are passionate about our products, our service and our customers.  We’re proud to have established a solid reputation for innovation and quality in our industry during our 17 years of existence.  We are grateful for the outstanding professionals we employ and their commitment to our culture and vision.  We are smaller in size, but very financially solid and growing rapidly.  We are pleased to have never had a layoff nor eliminated any positions since our founding.  $13-15 an hour.  Will train.

Remember the definition of insanity?  “Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.”  Maybe it’s time for your company to start thinking outside of the box for your hiring practices.  Tell yourself it’s not that there aren’t any good applicants out there, it’s just that you’re looking in the wrong places and using the wrong words.  Decide it’s up to you to do things differently to find those good hires.

While researching for this article, I found a wealth of ideas successful companies are using to attract and keep good people.  The recurring themes?  Successful hirers treat employees and applicants like customers.  They promote the positives, using sales and marketing language to attract buyers!

And those winning in the HR game pay attention to their work environments, doing everything they can to make their business an attractive place to work.  They understand that when their employees win, they win, and that’s the message they deliver in their recruiting efforts.  Another big difference?  They don’t rely solely on the traditional job boards…they think outside of the box and promote their positions in imaginative ways.

I was so flooded with the great ideas I was finding, it couldn’t begin to get them all into this short article, so I decided I’d show you bullets of great concepts to get you thinking about different possibilities in your hiring practices, and thoughts on how to change your thinking or hiring approach.  (Here are links to two great sources I referenced for this article:  https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/1115-manufacturing-recruitment.aspxhttp://www.workforceinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/kleiman-recruit-the-best-hourly-06.pdf)

In no particular order, here goes with a list of ideas to help you think differently about your recruiting and hiring practices…

  • Recruiting cards. Make business cards you can hand out to people you encounter in daily life, and use them to tell potential recruits why they should call.  Give them to people who’ve impressed you and demonstrated exceptional service or shown you outstanding qualities and possibilities.
  • Target full-time employees looking for a second job. Emphasize the value of that second income for your part-time positions to attract people who are already successfully employed.
  • Parents with young children. Recruit these folks by offering flexible schedules that let them spend more time with the kids; work with the needs of their childcare schedules, and you’ll attract loyal and appreciative workers.  Recruit for them at daycare centers or other places you’ll cross paths with young parents.
  • Encourage walk-ins. Tell them to call.  Forcing potential applicants to apply online can be daunting and discouraging to job-seekers.  If they’re motivated enough to show up at your door or call you directly, that’s a positive step one.
  • Employee Referrals. Motivate your employees with incentives to bring in good applicants.
  • Examine your work environment. Successful companies take care of their people and their workers love their jobs.  If you offer your people a great place to work, their excitement will help you generate referrals.  Be the place where people want to work.  Do your employees say things about your company like, “They’re good to me.”  Remember, when employees win, you win.
  • Existing customers and vendors. Ask your customers and vendors to keep an eye out for good applicants for you.  Network through these people you know so well.  Actively ask them for applicant referrals.
  • Friends, family and people you know. In today’s environment, everyone has someone they know who’s looking for work.  Ask them to send people to you.  Give them a few of your recruitment cards.
  • Remember that people who already have jobs probably won’t be looking at traditional job boards or newspaper want ads. If you want good people with a good work ethic, try to tap into people who are already working, not just the unemployed.
  • Direct your efforts to places where the people you want to attract are likely to be. Look where they congregate, socialize, go for entertainment, work, play, shop, live, get information, participate in the community and so on.
  • Recruiting should be an ongoing process. Recruit new employees the same way you attract new customers.  That way you can develop a list of potential applicants so you’re ready when you have openings and aren’t the pressure to hire less than your best choices.
  • Have a good image and promote it. Use a marketing approach and pay attention to everything an applicant sees, including ads, applications, company facilities.  Always put your best foot forward.
  • Develop a good relationship with schools including local high schools, junior colleges and universities; do open houses and present at career day opportunities.
  • Promote your company through adult education and English as a second language classes and intern programs.
  • Sponsor school events, activities or a team.
  • Give employees “ask me about this great place to work” buttons and handouts.
  • Make it easy for people to apply. If you only accept applications and phone calls during normal business hours, you’re catering to those who don’t currently work, and discourage many of the very people you should be trying to recruit.
  • Modify the times you conduct interviews to accommodate people who already have jobs.
  • Install a 24-hour job hotline and publicize it. As simple as an answering machine or as fancy as a fully automated interviewing system.
  • Test and track what works for you. If a recruiting source or location works well, do more of it, if it doesn’t work, stop doing it.
  • Keep track of good people who leave your company. Call them a few weeks later, or down the road.  They might have realized the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and be willing to come back.  (there’s research that shows where up to 20-25% of people who leave a managerial or supervisory position return to their old employer).   All you have to do is ask!
  • Ads should show people why they want to work for you.
  • Good ad headlines. “Help wanted” doesn’t attract attention.  Try something like:
    • “Nobody else gives you the opportunities we do.”
    • “Are you tired of…”
    • “Get started on your career!”
    • “We need your talent.”
    • “You deserve the best.”
    • “Take the first step to a better future.”
    • “Starting out or starting over?”
  • After your ad entices, then have verbiage to screen out unqualified people with information on drug policies, job duty descriptions, hours, etc.
  • Remember that ads are supposed to attract buyers. That includes your employment advertising!
  • Use active verbs in your ads. Describe job duties with terms like, “create”, “explore”, “launch”, “specialize”, “grow”, etc.
  • Companies that earn and promote their reputation as a good place to work are better at pulling in good applicants.
  • Being small can be an advantage. Smaller companies often have more of what people want…being part of a team or family, appreciation, challenge, growth opportunity.
  • Don’t always focus on people who are unemployed. Especially when looking for hourly employees, the best candidates are already working.
  • Alternative referral generation and recruiting sources.
    • Stuff payroll checks with referral incentives
    • Church bulletins
    • Doorknob signs
    • Tear-off bulletin board signs
    • Car window flyers
    • Teachers
    • Churches
    • Trade and professional associations
    • Social groups such as bowling leagues, youth groups, condo associations, 4H, scouting troops
    • Job fairs
    • Craft fairs
    • Community events
    • Neighborhood posters
    • Sandwich boards
    • Zip code mailings
    • Grocery store bulletins
    • Local newsletters
    • Billboard ads
    • Local Radio/TV ads
    • Alternative newspapers and publications

I hope this gets you thinking outside the box with regard to your recruiting and hiring practices.  Remember, if what you’re doing isn’t working, change it!  Don’t just blame “the bad applicant pool”.  Take responsibility and change the way you recruit.  It just might make the difference for you.

Still thinking or need help?  Contact your Missouri Enterprise Area Business Manager at 1 (800) 956-2682.  We can help you think outside the box on your workforce, and assist you with promoting a positive, efficient and productive work culture that attracts good people.

This post is in partnership with Missouri Enterprise.