Seven Ways To Recruit Great Employees - Management
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Seven Ways To Recruit Great Employees

Written By Phillip M. Perry

Article Date: 04-01-2006
Copyright (C) 2006 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Five of the nation’s top workplace consultants share their secrets on how to attract good employees.

You only want to hire the best, right? But where are they? Chances are they’re already happily working for someone else.

"To attract good employees you need to get aggressive and move out of the box," says Mel Kleiman, president of Humetrics, a Houston-based consulting firm. "And that means firing off some new weapons in the human relations arsenal.

Tip #1: Call good employees who have left.

"Former employees are absolutely your best source of prospects to fill your available positions," says Kleiman. "Make a conscious effort to call previous workers. See if they are happy or if they want to return. Maybe they won’t come back right away, but somewhere down the line they might. So keep the lines of communications open."

Kleiman suggests waiting about six months before calling higher level employees, since they will want sufficient time to become acquainted with their new positions. As for middle level positions, wait just one or two weeks. Sometimes it quickly becomes apparent to these individuals that the greener grass on the other side of the fence has some pesky weeds.

Bonus tip: Invite departing employees to check in with you to let you know how the new job works out.

Tip #2: Offer "finders fees" to anyone who refers individuals who are hired.

"Your current employees are also excellent sources for new hires," says Kleiman. "Tell them if they help you hire someone, you’ll pay a finders fee."

And don’t confine that offer to current employees. Open it up to third parties, such as suppliers, customers, or the general public.

"Most employers forget to expand the base of their finder’s fees offer," says Kleiman. "Remember the more people you have searching for you, the more choice you’ll have when filling positions."

To communicate that you are looking for employees who will stick around, structure your reward program to pay the referring individual half of the bounty when the new employee has remained 90 days, and the balance at the six-month anniversary.

Bonus tip: If possible, have the referring employee handle orientation of the new hire to increase the likelihood of long-term employment.

Tip #3: Ask job applicants for other names.

No matter how aggressive your efforts to solicit applicants, you’ll never see 99 percent of the most competent people. These individuals are happily employed and never look at the "help wanted" sections of their newspapers. You have to flush them out.

"Every applicant who walks into your office is worth three to five additional names," says Kleiman. He suggests asking each person for "the names of three individuals who can tell me about you."

When you call those individuals, start by discussing the applicant, then move on to discussing their own backgrounds and needs. An interview offer may follow.

Tip #4: Offer flex time.

While incomes have risen, free time has diminished. Many people find themselves pressed to take care of their children or elderly parents. Offer flexible working hours and promote this benefit in your recruiting efforts and interviews.

"Employers need to recognize that people are looking for a balance between their work and their family lives," says John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an employee placement firm in Chicago. "Flextime is a high priority for a lot of people. It allows them to adapt their schedules to what they have going on outside work.

"For example, some parents have to get the kids off to school and would like to come to work at 10 a.m. Others need to leave at 3 p.m. to pick up the kids."

Still other employees may have a second job, outside civic obligations, or a hobby they want to pursue.

"In some cases, employees may want to work on a weekend and take a day or two off in the middle of the week," says Challenger.

Bonus tip: The most valuable and sought-after employees are often the ones who most appreciate flex time.

Tip #5: Show prospects how you can help them in their career paths.

Although you want to encourage employees to stay with you as long as possible, it's also true that the best individuals expect to depart for another employer within a few years. You can attract the best people and encourage them to stay longer by describing just how you can assist them in their long-term career goals.

Such assistance comes in two varieties: vertical and horizontal. In vertical advancement, the employee "moves up the ladder" in your business. In horizontal, the individual takes additional educational courses and expands his or her skills in adjacent work areas, which makes the employee a more valuable part of your team and reinforces their employability for other businesses.

"With baby boomers in their 40's now, there are many more people clamoring to get into more responsible roles," says Challenger. "But there just isn't enough room for everyone who is driven and talented."

If people can't move "up" the ladder of success, they can move "sideways" to greater education and expertise.

"You must be able to show there is growth potential in your business," says Don Schackne, president of Personnel Management and Administration Associates, a consulting firm in Delaware, Ohio. "For example, one employer tells each prospect about three "ladders" that are available at the company.

"The hired employee can climb one ladder as far as possible or transition to adjacent ladders - representing different career paths - and then move up."

This employer shows prospects there is growth potential at the business, and describes exactly what individuals must do to climb the ladders.

"There is no doubt about how far the employee could go at that business," says Schackne.

Bonus tip: Offering tuition reimbursement for educational courses can tie the employees to you at a time when they are being courted by search firms.

Tip #6: Work with local organizations.

You network to get new customers. Why not network to attract top employees? Here are some good choices:

  • Community colleges: Teach a business course to bring you into contact with prospective job applicants.
  • High schools: Give a seminar on "life after high school" to explain the world of work to young people. Once again, this raises your profile considerably among individuals who will soon be looking for work, either full or part-time.
  • Chambers of commerce: A growing number of these are now offering assistance in matching resumes with employers.
"Don't overlook the job fairs that are often sponsored by chambers and other local organizations, such as the Rotary," says Ethan Winning, an employee relations consultant in Walnut Creek, Calif. "These are not just places to show off your business; all the job applicants in town come with resumes. They pick up application forms and start applying."
Get to know as many attendees as you can.

Bonus tip: At all of these events have someone take photographs of your participation, and send a press release to the local newspapers.

Tip #7: Advertise in fresh places.

Happily employed workers don't bother reading the "help wanted" ads. That poses a challenge for anyone trying to attract the best and brightest.

What can you do?

"Place your ads where good prospects are likely to see them," says Dr. Alan Weiss, president of Summit Consulting, East Greenwich, R.I.

Instead of the help wanted section, try the sports, automobile or local news sections.

"Even a modest help wanted ad, when it stands alone, has a better chance of being seen than a great ad that has been positioned around 12 other great ads," says Weiss.

And the local paper may not be the best medium. Weiss suggests considering the flyers that are published by just about every organization. It may cost only $5 to $10 to place a small ad in the mailing pieces from local groups such as parent-teacher leagues, welcome wagons, scouts, and fraternal organizations.

Finally, get permission to post a help-wanted flyer in health clubs and libraries. These are places people spend a lot of time, and your ad will not be overwhelmed by competing pitches.

Bonus tip: Place ads in out-of-town media serving areas of high unemployment.


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Article Categories:  Human Resources  »  Management