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High Performance: How to avoid desperation recruiting

April 6, 2021 -  By
(Photo: shaunl/ iStock / Getty Images Plus)

(Photo: shaunl/ iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

“Desperation recruiting” is when companies act impulsively, and sometimes unethically, to recruit out of sheer desperation. At its worst, it involves “stealing” people from a competitor’s job site. This type of recruiting appears every spring but increases in occurrence whenever the labor supply has substantially dried up.

The rationalization behind desperation recruiting is that the end justifies the means and/or that everyone else is doing it. In my opinion, neither of these are true but I understand the motivation and reason for feeling desperate. I also think there is a better approach to recruiting. In fact, I believe desperation recruiting may be avoided altogether.

The best way to avoid desperation recruiting is to have minimal employee turnover, a strong bench, and a waiting list of potential new hires. You may believe these things to be impossible in today’s labor environment but I can attest to the fact that a small percentage of companies in our industry are in this position, even today. What are these companies doing that the rest aren’t?

First, they have created a very attractive workplace culture where employees are highly engaged. When people are highly engaged, they don’t leave without a major life-altering event (spouse relocating, graduating from college and starting a new career, etc.). Not only that, they tell everyone they know about their experience. There is no better recruiter than a highly-engaged employee, with or without a recruiting incentive program.

Second, they are proactively developing the knowledge, skills and abilities of their people. This investment is a primary factor in a person’s level of engagement. It also results in bench strength that most companies only dream of.

Third, they are recruiting all the time. Larger companies have full-time recruiters. In smaller companies, the owner is the recruiter. Even when there are no current openings, conversations are being had, inquiries are being made, glances are being exchanged. The hunt for talent never stops. In many situations, recruiting is being done today for projected openings a year or more into the future.

Fourth, they are utilizing multiple methods of recruiting. While their struggling competitors are focused on 2 or 3 methods, they have 10 or 12 methods actively in play. Not only are they using online platforms (Indeed, Zip Recruiter, Simplicity, Craigslist, etc.), they are effectively using pay-per-click online ads, hosting open houses, participating in job fairs, speaking to groups, sponsoring events, volunteering and, of course, networking always. There is no “silver bullet” that works in all situations. It’s the combination of many different strategies happening throughout the year that builds momentum and opens doors.

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About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at Phil@GrowTheBench.com. He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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