Recruiting is like marketing

June 18, 2013 -  By

I was giving a short talk a month ago to five new members of my Leader’s Edge peer group, as we discussed the difficult situation of finding the right and best foremen. A contractor working in Massachusetts suddenly found himself in need of a better lead guy to handle all the business coming his way. He lamented about the problems involved with trying to quickly locate and hire a worthy team member.

Change your mindset

The problem is, recruiting is not like buying a new piece of equipment. It’s more like marketing. You cannot wait until you need someone before you start recruiting, just as you don’t wake up on a Monday and decide you need more clients. Recruiting should be treated strategically, if you want to grow in a smooth, profitable manner. It all starts with having a shining local reputation, so that people working in nearby companies will have heard of your firm and what a great place it is to work.

Attract a stream of recruits

This presupposes, of course, that you indeed have a great place to work. Are your employees treated well? Do they thrive in the working atmosphere at your firm? Are they given the tools and training needed to succeed? To succeed at the level I am referring to, your company needs to be seen as a Destination Company—a place for employees to grow their careers and better themselves. If not, this should become part of your planning.

Once you have put in place the right company culture, you must make your company known locally to competitors and potential employees. Are you active in your state or regional industry association? Are you supporting your industry and visible in your community? Are your trucks and job signs clean, clear and omnipresent?

 Build your employee pipeline

Certain recruiting activities will guarantee a pipeline of future employees. This includes being involved in the local trade schools and universities where future employees are to be found. Are you active and visible in this arena, networking with the right teachers and top students? You need to be, if you want to create the employee pipeline.

Involve everyone

Just as you depend on customer referrals, you also depend on employee referrals. Whether you pay for referrals or not, your employees need to be aware of their role in attracting new talent and know what’s in it for them. Recruiting incentives can become an important part of your recruiting plan.

Be strategic

ABI: Always be interviewing. Job ads should be put up periodically, and interviews should be conducted looking for better people. If you can afford it, you should hire a great foreman, an assistant foreman or solid laborer, even before one is needed. Because in 6 months you will need one—and if you can hire one now, you will grow more quickly and more solidly.

The key to ABI is having a good screening process: You can’t get caught up interviewing the wrong people; conversely, you want to feel excited about interviewing the right people, without wasting your time. Your recruiting plan should be strategic. Even before you identify the specific need, the recruiting plan should be thought out well, and implemented. This will assure that you are able to hire the right person when the need arises or when they come on the market.

The bottom line: Take a strategic approach to how you recruit, onboard and develop your employees, and your company will grow smoothly and profitably.

Scott, a consultant, grew his landscape company into a very successful $10 million enterprise, and he’s now devoted to helping others achieve profound success. He facilitates The Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners who want to transform and grow their business. His members achieved 27 percent profit increases in their first year. He has a master’s degree in business administration. To learn more, visit

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