A guide to employee recruiting

Creative strategies for a competitive market
By Jill Kohler-Easley
May 1, 2007

The auto glass industry is not alone in its quest to find qualified employees. Baby boomers have begun retiring in record numbers. Generation Xers, equipped with more skills than perhaps any demographic in recent memory, are being heavily recruited by high-tech industries offering outstanding employment possibilities and creative benefit packages. Opportunities to work from home or start your own business further tempt potential prospects. These changes have created a labor shortage affecting almost every industry. As competition for skilled workers increases, creative recruiting strategies become even more important.

Before placing a standard help wanted ad in the local newspaper, take another look at your overall hiring package. A recent survey of 100 staffing managers from Fortune 1,000-sized companies indicated they spend 75 percent of their time and effort sourcing “active” candidates: those who need a job and will to do whatever it takes to find one. Most companies know how to attract these candidates. They are on every job board. They send in unsolicited resumes and attend every job fair and networking meeting. At any given time, active candidates represent about 10 percent to 15 percent of the labor pool. While these candidates are easy to target and recruit, the best employees are under-represented in this group.

The secret to hiring highly qualified and loyal employees in today’s marketplace is to tap into the “semiactive” and “passive” candidate pool. By definition, semiactive candidates are fully employed. Their jobs are somewhat fulfilling, but for personal or professional reasons, they are open to taking another job if it’s significantly better. On a bad day, these people may cruise the job boards or float their resumes to a recruiter, but their job dissatisfaction is not strong enough to make them actively seek change.

Passive candidates like their jobs and have no intention of leaving. Their employers value them and do their best to keep them happy. To get these candidates to consider another job, identify, approach and persuade them. Typically, you can find these candidates through a referral service, employee-incentive program, the use of competitive intelligence or an industry-specific recruiter.

To attract highly skilled candidates, understand that the fundamental employee-employer relationship has undergone a change. Throughout the auto glass industry, companies are merging, downsizing and changing direction. These changes have left employees with a skeptical view of company loyalty. In a recent survey of glass industry professionals, 68 percent said they did not expect to stay with the same employer throughout their career. This changing marketplace is redefining company loyalty, and competition within the auto glass industry is fierce for the shrinking pool of experienced candidates.

Employees’ basic needs are changing.  Candidates typically do not leave an employer because they are underpaid or work in a difficult environment. They leave for more personal reasons such as moving closer to family, greater job satisfaction, more flex-time, improved benefits or greater opportunities for growth.

Employer branding
If you want to hire from the semipassive and passive candidate pool, develop an “employer brand.” In his article, “The True Power of the Magnetic Employer Brand,” consultant and author David Lee says, “When you make the effort to create a Magnetic Employer Brand, you save yourself the work of trying to convince employees … that you are an employer of choice. Your reputation acts like a huge talent magnet, drawing the best, most talented people to your organization.” Even small companies can deliver a unique and attractive work experience that sets them apart in the labor market. “The needs of today’s employees lie upon timeless, fundamental human needs. These include the need:
• for meaning and purpose
• for community and connection
• to learn and grow
• to feel a sense of control and autonomy
• to experience mastery and self-efficacy.
[In other words, to feel the thrill of victory rather than the agony of defeat at work each day.]

When your work experience taps into these fundamental needs, you unleash an impassioned word-of-mouth PR campaign that positions you credibly as the employer of choice.”

Web site
Do you have a world-class Web site that includes a well-developed career section? Remember, not just consumers visit your company’s site; potential candidates visit to get information on your company and to read everything in your career section. Dollar for dollar, your Web site is your company’s least expensive form of advertising. If you have a bare-bones site that has not been updated in the last three years, you are sending a message to potential employees that you are disorganized and lack attention to detail. For many jobseekers, this is their first and lasting impression of your company.

Prior to beginning an employee search, evaluate your compensation plan. Have an aggressive comp plan that is above-average but in line with industry standards, to consistently hire top people. Do not try to buy talent. However, be aware that top candidates will expect any offer to exceed his or her current salary, even when presented with 20 percent to 25 percent job-growth opportunity and great stock options.
If you do not have a compensation department, contact an industry-specific recruiter or your trade association to find out what an industry-standard compensation package looks like. Many keep track of compensation statistics.

Job branding
In addition to a solid company with a good reputation, passive candidates want jobs with real stretch. Many employers want to hire people into lateral positions. However, in order to peak the interest of semipassive or passive candidates, offer a better job, not just another job.

Make sure your online job ads are descriptive and compelling. Job branding involves tying a job directly to a company’s strategy and critical initiatives. It allows the candidate to clearly see the growth opportunities that come with successful performance. This concept should be embedded into every aspect of the hiring process, starting with the job description and continuing through recruitment, interviewing and hiring. Express the opportunities the position offers, not just the requirements. Sizzle is what excites. This is not to say exaggerate the job possibilities, but sell the opportunities. Tell your candidates about the goals your company has achieved and the direction it’s heading in the near future.

The interviewing process
Remember, top people want to work for other top people. The quality of your interviewing team will tell a candidate a lot about your company. Candidates look for a consistent message from the entire interviewing team. A weak or confused interviewing process, or a senior management without a clear direction, is sure to make the semipassive candidate lose interest.

Make sure everyone on your interviewing team understands the position requirements, skills needed and job expectations, and has the necessary information to sell the company. If there are some negatives to the position or the company, put them on the table early in the interviewing process. Give your interviewing team the chance to address these issues, and give the candidate the opportunity to address how he or she would overcome those problems.

Job boards
Computer-based recruitment tools can make recruiting more efficient. Job boards can be useful for finding active and semiactive candidates. Sites like Monster, Hot Jobs and Career Builder are good sites for attracting active candidates, but be prepared to wade through a mountain of resumes from unqualified people before you find one or two worth interviewing. To avoid this, use industry-specific employment sites such as the NGA Employment Center at http://os.careermarketplace.com/nga/, Engineers.net or the Glass Engineering Forum at www.eng-tips.com.

Employee referrals
Establish an internal employee-referral program that rewards your employees for proactive networking. The goal is to find high quality people who would not apply on their own. When an employee refers someone who is then hired, make the reward something fun and substantial; something worth talking about. Word of mouth is the best way to get the entire company excited about referring great people. Remember, if you had to pay a recruiter to do this it would cost 25 percent to 30 percent of the new employee’s first year compensation.

Finally, most companies address recruitment on a need-to basis. To avoid rushing through the process, start developing a recruitment strategy now that reflects your company’s values, objectives and branding. Use in-house recruitment personnel to visit job fairs and colleges, follow up on networking leads and explore the Internet. If you do not have the time or resources to conduct an employee search, use an industry-specific recruiter to find high-level candidates. 

There is no one strategy for attracting, finding and hiring good employees. Tactics vary depending on company needs and available positions. However, the approach and effort you put into doing it right is especially important with hard-to-fill positions.


The author is president of Easley Resource Group, a Lake Oswego, Ore., firm that has specialized in the glass industry for more than 15 years. Write her at jill@glassrecruiters.com.