Great Employees and Where to Recruit Them

Do you find it hard to recruit employees? If you're creative about your recruitment strategy, you may be able to find who you're looking for.
Journalist, freelance writer
August 04, 2017

Big Ass Fans, a Lexington, Kentucky-based business with a colorful name, specializes in manufacturing industrial ceiling fans and lighting, yet it makes a point to recruit employees from the automotive industry.

It may not seem entirely analogous—ceiling fans to cars—but it isn't as if there is a huge manufacturing fan market from which he can recruit. There is, however, a nearby automobile plant—and the employees who came from that sector have flourished at their company, explains COO Jon Bostock.

“They're very talented, very disciplined," Bostock says. "We have been extraordinarily impressed with the people who have come to us from the automotive industry."

Recruiting employees can be a challenge for any business owner, especially now. Unemployment is low, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor, and people aren't looking for work the way they once were. Meanwhile, the economy is humming along; if your company is experiencing growth, you probably want to hire more employees to capitalize on it. But should you to recruit employees? That question can keep executives and human resource directors up at night.

Of course, you could hire a headhunter and let them worry about recruitment. Or you could put out ads on online job websites and just hope for the best. But if you want to go beyond that and actively look for employees, there are a few recruitment strategies you could try.

1. Look at industries with a skill that you appreciate.

Similar to what the industrial ceiling fans company has done, you could decide that a potential employee's mindset matters more than their experience. That's what Louis Bruno decided.

Bruno is the CEO of Bruno Air, a home service business that offers HVAC, electrical and plumbing services throughout Florida. He says he found that many of his technicians, while skilled, were not so hot in their social skills with consumers.

“The project is more than just the work that needs to be done—it is the customer experience in its entirety," Bruno says.

These smaller events allow us to build relationships with students and administrators over time, ultimately ensuring a steady flow of quality candidates.

—Sarah Dabby, head of talent, ClickTime

He now actively recruits employees from the service industry. If they're interested in working for him, his company trains them.

“I have recruited from hotels, restaurants, retail—anywhere where it takes a people person to succeed," he says. "Coming from the service industry, recruits are already fluent in the customer service experience and just need to be trained on the technical aspect."

2. Learn what you can about other company's hiring techniques.

David Rice is the CEO and founder of Chicago-based real estate sales management and consulting company New Home Star. It's a big operation; in 2016, the company sold more than 4,000 new homes.

Rice's company rarely hires real estate agents or commissioned salespeople, but it has had luck recruiting employees from a national rental car company.

“[They] have recruited on college campuses and given their workforce a solid foundation, but [they] cannot keep up with the aspirations of so many up-and-comers," Rice says.

So that's something to think about. If there's a brand you respect and thinks recruits solid employees, but they have few options to climb up the corporate ladder, you could give their workers your ladder.

Like Bruno and Bostock, Rice says that he branches out into other industries as well.

Rice looks for people who aren't in sales but “show the propensity to excel in our environment."

"For example, we hire school teachers who have great empathy, are good listeners and patient in explaining things to others," he continues. "They can become great sales agents. Surprisingly, we've also found that hairstylists make great salespeople. They are often service-oriented, great listeners and have great relational skills."

3. Use common recruiting tools in a new way.

There is a reason that some of the tried-and-true methods of searching for employee talent are tried-and-true. They tend to work, and they may even work better than you think—especially if you've only given them a cursory glance in the past.

LinkedIn

For some business owners, this professional networking site is probably an obvious idea for recruiting. But it might not be for others. If you have a certain skill you're looking for—or if you want to find somebody who has worked in a particular industry—you can use LinkedIn's search engine to find them.

Then, if you find someone you're interested in possibly hiring, you can craft an email and send it through LinkedIn, says Stephanie Troiano, a recruiter and vice-president with Wimbush & Associates, Inc., a talent search firm in Orange County, California.

Of course, there is also Indeed, Monster, Zip Recruiter, CareerBuilder, etc., but I don't find these more traditional job boards to be as successful in recruiting candidates as using LinkedIn is," Troiano says. “The information provided about a person is so extremely helpful in determining whether a person is a good fit for a position I'm looking to fill."

Universities

For internships and entry-level positions, going to recruit at a university or college can be a great method.

Sarah Dabby is head of talent at ClickTime, a time-tracking software company based in San Francisco. ClickTime has doubled in size over the past three years, a fact Dabby credits to having an effective recruiting strategy.

ClickTime appears at local university job fairs, but the company also shows up at smaller events around college campuses, like panel discussions and industry Q&As, where students can learn how to break into a certain career.

“These smaller events allow us to build relationships with students and administrators over time, ultimately ensuring a steady flow of quality candidates," Dabby says.

Employee Referral Programs

A lot of business owners seem to have success with tapping into their employees' networks.

An employee referral program can be especially helpful, “in an industry like HVAC, which isn't seen as the most glamorous career option," says Brandy Shope, corporate director of human resources at HB McClure, a heating air conditioning and plumbing company headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

HB McClure is a sizable company with 500 employees. While the company has been around since 1914, their employee referral program has only been around for about two years. Shope says that offering financial rewards for successful referrals has helped the company a lot—so much so they even recently increased the rewards. As it stands, employees receive a $250 bonus for entry-level referrals within 90 days. If someone gets a mid-level position, the employee receives $1,500, given in thirds over a year. And if someone is hired in an upper-level position, the employee receives $2,500, also split into thirds throughout the year.

In the first quarter of 2017, HB McClure made 70 new hires—34 of them were referrals and eight of those 34 referrals were made by employees who were once referrals themselves.

If your referral program works, it can help save money in your recruitment budget. Because of those 70 new hires, Shope says, the company saved approximately $70,000 that would have otherwise been spent to recruit new employees. HB McClure would have spent more money creating and placing ads in print and digital mediums.

The industrial fan company based in Lexington, Kentucky has also had success with their employee referral program. Human resource director Samantha Couch says that these programs help because your own employees are going to have a good sense of who has a work ethic that would fit in well with the company.

"From our perspective, we're looking for [our company] mentality, where you work hard and play hard, every single day. You want like-minded people," Couch says.

But for employee referral programs to work, it helps if your company is actually a gratifying place to work. For instance, Bostock points out that production employees begin with a salary at 34 percent above the average for similar work in the state, and he mentions perks like fresh fruit, well-lit facilities and cash bonuses in real time. You aren't likely to get your staff to recruit good people for you if the work environment isn't great.

It can be challenging to recruit employees. But if you're creative about where you look, you can find who you're looking for. And how do you really know when you've mastered recruiting? When you notice that other business owners are trying to recruit your employees.

Read more articles on hiring & HR.

Photo: Getty Images
Journalist, freelance writer