The summer hiring season is upon us, and following the trends of the last few years, this summer will again be marked by the unique challenges presented by a tight labor market. Competition over every single candidate continues to be at the highest levels since the 1960’s, putting gradual upward pressure on wages, benefits, and candidate expectations as businesses attempt to attract new talent and retain existing staff who are increasingly presented with shinier prospects.
We’ve written a number of articles throughout this labor crunch with strategies and ideas for addressing the associated challenges. For a quick recap, here’s a few must-reads:
- Tips to Improve Applicant Flow
- Hiring through Low Unemployment – it’s Time to Get Personal
- Tractor Beam Recruiting – How to Engage and Score the Best Hires
Because it’s recruiting season now, we want to focus specifically on your recruitment marketing efforts as you ramp up for the 2020 season. Re-posting your same materials from last year (or the last 10 years) is not an optimal strategy. Now is a prime time – and an albeit critical time – to review your materials and give them a fresh tune-up to positively communicate your company’s mission and values, along with what you hope candidates will gain out of a season with your company. Consider these ideas as you’re crafting your message to help your company stand out.
Employees are your first guests. Talk to them that way.
If you were planning your next vacation and shopping around for hotels, how would this ad for the fictional Fred’s Resort strike you?
Fred’s Resort provides lodging with beds and bathrooms (daily housekeeping provided by request only, depending on availability), a dining room (guests without reservations will not be served), activities (30% service charge added to all bookings, no exceptions), and overnight parking for guests ($29/night parking fee charged at time of booking). All guests must abide by our Guest Code of Conduct, and children under 13 must be attended to by an adult at all times. All guests will be subject to a background check, and guests with felony convictions or history of alcohol and substance abuse will not be permitted to make a reservation.
That’s a hard pass, right? And hopefully it seems intuitive why. You would never try to attract guests by listing out all of the requirements, restrictions, and limitations that come with staying at your property. Yet over and over again, we see employers crafting their recruitment messages by simply listing out job requirements and the restrictions that come along with working for their company.
Obviously, communicating requirements and expectations is important. But at this stage, it’s even more important to communicate what a candidate has to look forward to by joining your team. Think of your employees as your first guests, who will shape and create the experience of all your future guests. Speak to the experience you hope to create for them, an experience that hopefully they’ll have great memories of, will help to develop and grow them professionally, and that they will enthusiastically recommend to other people.
Go beyond the “what” – communicate the “why.”
As mentioned above, it’s common for employers to write ads that simply list out all of the job requirements and employee expectations, press “Post,” and slowly grow disappointed and frustrated when the job applications don’t come rushing in. As far as the actual work is concerned, there’s little difference between being a housekeeper in a Rocky Mountain resort town and being a housekeeper at any chain hotel in the country. But if I’m a candidate who’s considering moving across the country to have a memorable summer experience, why would I jump at your opportunity if you describe your company and jobs the same way as every hotel that’s in my hometown? Employers need to go beyond the “what” in their recruiting and explain the “why.”
Think about trying to answer some or all of these questions: Why should a candidate want to join your team? Why should they want to choose you, travel to your location, and give their time and energy to helping your company achieve its mission? What sets your company apart? How are you going to value and appreciate their decision to choose you?
Maintaining high standards and high expectations are generally the markings of successful companies that create great experiences and value for their customers, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting and communicating a high bar. But ultimately, it’s your employees who deliver that value to customers, and job seekers need a glimpse of why you expect what you do, what they’re going to be a part of helping you build, how that larger effort includes your investment in their professional development, and what you hope they’ll gain by giving their time and effort to you.
Always Be Authentic
Crafting a powerful and compelling pitch about why candidates should apply to join your team can backfire spectacularly if the reality of joining your team doesn’t align with what was offered. In other words, if you rent out rustic tent cabins, but market your property as a 5-star luxury resort and charge 5-star prices, the bad reviews are going to pile up really fast, and the guests will stop showing up. Sugar coating the realities will only hurt your long-term results.
But being attractive as an employer doesn’t mean sacrificing your values or hiding the realities – communicating the challenges of the position up front helps ensure that you’re attracting candidates who know what they’re signing up for and are keen on the challenge, which will contribute to more on-target applicants and better retention after hire. Present the pros and cons equally and honestly, and speak to how your company rewards or acknowledges team members for meeting those challenges.
Crafting an appealing and authentic recruitment message is only one connected piece of a holistic employee experience that requires focusing on onboarding, feedback and communication, and retention. For long term success, companies will need to focus on developing leaders who listen and respond, and creating cultures that encourage, celebrate, and reward performance. As you think about crafting your recruiting message for the season ahead and examine your company’s strengths and weaknesses, consider what steps, however small, you can take in the upcoming year towards making employment with your company a highly-regarded and sought-after experience. Every workplace can be better – identifying and implementing strategies to improve are critical in attracting eager job seekers year after year.
We wish you the best in 2020!
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