Farmers and Hunters of Talent
If you are struggling to find enough people or the right people to staff your organization, your initial response might be to walk down to your HR area and give them a nudge. Some of the worst business managers and owners will pressure their HR staff to “do better, whatever it takes.” These businesses are going to struggle for the next decade. Why? Because almost everyone in the business world has grown up in a world where finding talent was as easy as posting a job. “If you post it, they will come” has been the answer.
When that doesn’t work, some managers will go immediately to offering more money to attract talent. That lever has worked for them in the past. However, when that doesn’t work either, most business owners have fired every bullet in their clip and are out of ideas. This leads to additional stated or implied pressure on HR to “step it up or else.” The fact is if HR knew what to do, they would have done it already. These HR people have no more idea of how to find talent than the boss who is pressuring them. What then?
The central question to this entire concept is this…
Are people UNWILLING or UNABLE to come to work for your organization?
The number one reason why your company is not receiving applications is that the people looking for jobs have no idea that you have jobs available. There are really two separate problems here.
- The people you are trying to reach have no idea that your company exists.
If you are an HR manager or business owner, you are likely completely consumed by your organization. You spend most of your waking moments thinking about your business. That focus is exactly why you might be making the mistake of thinking that people know your business exists. The idea that people don’t know that your business exists is an affront to the thousands of hours that you have spent building and growing your organization. Because you know it so well, everyone must know it that well. That is just not true. Unless you are an employer of five hundred people or more, 90 percent of the people in your geographic area have never heard of your organization, let alone what you stand for.
- People are absolutely aware of your organization, and they know everything that they need to know about working there. They are making a conscious choice not to come to work for you.
While it would be easy to be offended by people turning down a job offer from your organization, a great deal can be learned from them by asking their reason for declining your offer of employment. Without asking these questions of them, you may automatically think their decision was about the pay, or the work was too hard. But if your goal is to fill your organization with talent, then you desperately need to know why people are walking away.
If you brush off not having enough talented employees on the idea that people just don’t want to work anymore, why are other people choosing to go do the exact same work for your competitors? Some people are choosing to do the exact same work under very similar circumstances; they just don’t want to do it for you. Ouch!
Create a Sales-Minded HR Department
You are beyond frustrated with the shortsightedness of your sales manager. He posted an ad and just waited for customers to walk through the door? That’s crazy!
Now, if you wouldn’t accept that level of effort from your sales team, why are you accepting that level of effort from your HR team in looking for new employees?
The search for new employees can utilize many of the same prospecting ideas that salespeople use to find customers. But it requires proactive thinking and a WILLINGNESS to get out from behind the desk for the HR staff.
Four Steps to Creating a Sales-Focused HR Group
Step 1. Create messaging
Regardless of what product your company sells or service it provides, you have probably spent a great deal of time coming up with messaging to make it appeal to your customer. I’d like for you to begin thinking about selling your organization as a place to work in the same way.
It is helpful for you to consider some questions while creating this messaging:
- Who am I selling to?
- What is the profile of the type of person I am hoping will join our organization?
- What is their background?
- What education or experience do they have?
- What job did they hold immediately before coming to work for us?
- What are their goals for employment?
- What problem does this job solve for an employee? What advantages does this job have over its competitors?
- Are the benefits financial? Family life? Flexibility? Advancement? Prestige?
- Who am I selling against?
- Why are people choosing to go to work for my competitors instead of me?
Step 2. Identify your target customer (employee)
No matter how good your messaging is, if you don’t have a good idea of who you are trying to recruit into your organization, all that work will be wasted. No matter how good your messaging is to sell a minivan, if you put that message in front of someone looking for a sports car, they will be unmoved. Creating a profile of your next great employee is work that you need to do.
This profile will need to answer the following questions:
- What education does the person have?
- What experience does the person have?
- What is the life situation of this person (first job, transitional job, second career, just a job to feed the family)?
- What hobbies or recreational activities does this person enjoy? (Birds of a feather flock together.)
- Where does this person vacation?
- What volunteer organizations does this person join?
Step 3. Create models for the best people in every job
It is important at this point to see that you use this type of modeling in your life every day. If you want to lose weight, you befriend people who live a healthy lifestyle to learn from them. If you want to be successful in business, you get the advice, guidance, and feedback of people who have had successful business careers. Young people very often seek the advice of people with more life experience to make sure they do not recreate the mistakes of the past.
While you will make huge generalizations inside this model, your goal is to identify people similar to your best employees and put your marketing materials in front of them. This can be done easily through a process of interviewing your best employees in each area of your organization.
The process might look something like this:
- Identify the general traits that make employees a great fit for your organization. This might include their abilities to communicate, show creativity, have initiative, solve problems, or be great team players or leaders. This positive profile will be used as an overarching guideline for all your hiring.
- Create categories of jobs inside your organization. This will most likely revolve around the skill set and personality type of your best people in that area of your organization.
- Interview your best people in each area to identify the answers to the profile questions you created. These people must volunteer for this interview, and you need to be clear with them about why you are gathering this information. When you explain to them that you are looking to fill their department with more people like them, they are usually quite honored to be interviewed.
Step 4. Create career quadrants to categorize jobs
For most organizations, if we tried to create a profile for every job inside the organization, it would take us the better part of a year. Many organizations have dozens of job titles, all with differing duties and responsibilities. This would be a Herculean task that is too complex and would take too much time for most companies. The idea of assigning each job inside your organization into a career quadrant will allow you to create profiles for only four types of employees.
The first question to ask is whether the job requires working primarily with people to improve or modify their effectiveness individually or as part of a team or primarily with a process where a series of actions create a predictable result that is reliable and repeatable. The second question is whether communication is primarily in person and face-to-face, where reading social cues and adapting to the person are important, or primarily through technology, where the accuracy of information is more important than a connection with the person.
To determine which quadrant a job fits into, choose between people and process and then between interpersonal communication and technology, as shown below.
The four types of job descriptions can therefore be categorized as follows:
- Works primarily with people and communicates in person (shift supervisor or team lead)
- Works primarily with process and communicates in person (maintenance technician)
- Works primarily with people and communicates through technology (customer service person)
- Works primarily with process and communicates through technology (IT support person)
Now go through each job category in the organization and classify it under one of these four categories. After that is completed, find a great employee in each of the four categories and create the aforementioned model with them. With these four completed profiles, you now have the ability to recruit people who will naturally fit into these types of jobs.