You’ve been there. You’re a recruiter who has just been giving the assignment to find a person who:
- Maintains a mile-long list of qualities, qualifications, education, credentials and experience
- Is local
- Is a “cultural fit”
- Is possibly willing to accept a pay cut
It seems impossible, but that doesn’t stop companies from looking for them. We call them unicorns, leprechauns and diamonds. Hiring managers insist they are the only answer to their operational needs.
I always like using the needle in the haystack analogy. It just seems to fit. A needle in itself isn’t particularly valuable, but it stands out because it’s different from the rest; it’s not hay. Sifting through endless hay to find that one tiny needle, it’s kind of like fishing, and I love to fish.
The thing with fishing is, you’ll never find me casting out a bare hook in hopes of randomly snagging a fish with it. When I fish, I attach a shiny lure to my line. If that doesn’t work, I hook a fat, juicy worm. When I fish like this, with this strategy of attraction versus endless random searching, my odds go way up. Attract the fish or needle or candidate. Don’t hope to find them hiding somewhere.
An unfortunately high number of recruiters hire using the magnifying glass method. This usually just means putting out a job posting online and waiting. The hope is that many people will apply. Like, hundreds of people. Many large companies employ computer software that automatically eliminates unqualified candidates. The culled applicants are then pushed forward to the human phase. Then, the search begins. That magnifying glass is whipped out, and all those resumes are inspected. Many good candidates get overlooked because of pure overexertion and exhaustion.
But, there’s another way. A better way. There’s the magnet way.
Think about what attracted you to your organization. What were the little idiosyncrasies about your boss, your coworkers, your environment that were charming and attractive for you? How do you articulate that in a posting? I call it Culture Marketing. Create an impression of your company that will have the right people wanting to work there. You don’t want everyone to want to work there, just the right people, the people that fit.
This culture marketing is easier said than done. Some companies have marketing departments that will help with employment branding, but usually they’re occupied with “revenue generating” projects and have little time for HR and recruiting. If you and your team have the time, develop an outlet for how your culture story can be told.
This is more than just a few pictures and text on a careers webpage. Some have found it incredibly engaging to build a landing page specific to each department or even every job posting where teams, projects and activities are highlighted. Offices and workspaces are shown in 360 degree pictures or videos along with snapshots of service projects or company parties. Employee perks are also subtly featured on this webpage like free company branded apparel or a soda machine in the break room.
If you just don’t have the time or expertise, hire someone to help you. There are companies that specialize in culture marketing. These companies are great at spending a little time with you and your team and coming up with a highly effective culture marketing plan for hiring.
Be creative, adapt, and work hard to build your culture marketing strategy. Soon, needles will appear more than hay.