Hit a brick wall with recruitment

Over the past few months in a closed group I’m a member of I’ve noticed a number of business owners lamenting the fact that maybe Seek.com isn’t a great platform to find candidates for their roles. That never sounds right to me because it’s a very well known site that almost all candidates would definitely at least check if they were looking for a new role.

So … I usually click on the ad and I know what I’ll find … in 99% of cases it’s the exact same thing.

The truth is that its 90% WHAT your ad says that’s impacting the attention you’re getting. Granted if you put an incredible ad up on “jobs for mums in Sydney” then your candidate pool is way smaller than on seek … but still … your conversion rate is ALL ABOUT your content.

Think of it the same way you think about advertising your business. You have got to create an attractive and compelling (but also true) description of the role, the company and the ideal candidate. Advertising your employment brand is the same as advertising your consumer brand. It’s telling your audience what you’re all about, who you’re perfect for and why so they can see if they feel there’s a match, if not, cool, if there is, great! Take the next step …

It’s like online dating but for business.

Great candidates are in short supply because guess what everybody wants them, they’ve got options, they’ve got what you want, it’s NOT all abut the “Well I’m going to pay them so they should be grateful” type attitude. And these days you just can’t take the approach that says “There are so many people looking for work they need to prove to me that they’re the right person by jumping through all my hoops and they should be clambering for the opportunity”.

Great candidates seldom end up looking for jobs, they get poached, head-hunted and offered roles through their networks. Great candidates are easy to spot and smart employers snap them up wherever they might find them, even if that is on a sales call from another business or at the counter in a retail shop.

So who’s applying for the roles then? Terrible candidates? No … but they’re unlikely to be the shining stars it seems every employer expects are going to flood their inbox just because they put an ad up on seek.

Just like if you whack up an ad on Facebook for your business but you don’t really create an awesome offer or compelling copy and then you select an audience that isn’t narrow enough to boot. You’re going to get … crickets … or time-wasters.

Same-same but different with recruitment.

So. Lesson #1 – You need to create great copy for your recruitment as that honestly describes the role, the business and the ideal candidate. Be human, use the same types of words you’d use if you were chatting to someone. You’re hiring a human not a resume.

By now you might be wondering to yourself “How on earth do I write great copy?” either because you are no good at writing or because in truth the company and or the role aren’t all that crash hot really and you’re not sure what to write about it to make it sound that way.

Don’t despair.

Just because your role doesn’t include high roller type benefits or glamorous duties doesn’t mean you won’t find an awesome candidate that the role is perfect for. Everyone is different and want’s different things. Just be honest about the pro’s and con’s ‘cause every job has both!

Once you start writing the way you speak you’ll be ok, because you’re looking for people who will want to work with you, so if they ‘get you’ on paper, they’ll ‘get you’ in real life too.

Another cool idea is to make a video of yourself talking about the role, show people the office and give them a chance to self select in or out. Saves a lot of time later!

But how do you know what to write about?

This leads us to Lesson # 2 – Before you can create an awesome ad you need to get really honest with yourself about who your ideal candidate really is, and what you truly want them to do. It’s also super important to be honest about your business culture and brand personality so you can give yourself the best shot at finding the right person.

This means you’ll have to take the time to get clear on what you want this person to deliver and how. Steer well clear of generic job descriptions, titles and ideal candidate descriptions. Bullshit bingo is NOT a game you want to be playing in recruitment ad land (or any ad for that matter).

What do I mean?

If I had a dollar for every time a business described themselves as dynamic and innovative despite the fact that the very job ad I was reading it in was anything but … and a quick online search revealed their website to be as beige and old school as anything I’d ever seen.

Oh and classic requirements from a candidate include – must be a big picture thinker who’s got great attention to detail, must be able to work autonomously and be a team player, must have xyz years of industry experience in a similar role, must have abc qualification, must be a self-starter who’s results orientated blah blah blah. Really?!

Firstly this is a laundry list of contradictory stuff, secondly why? What specifically requires them to be a big picture thinker? Is this really what you need? Is a big picture thinker going to be a details guy as well?! Erm … unlikely.

And ALWAYS ask yourself why you want x years of experience? Is it really important? Could they be better off with certain inherent character traits but could be taught the skills they need?

So make sure you know what you want this person to do and please for the love of god don’t try to hire someone who’s marketing/admin/sales or similar type slashie roles. Hire 3 people and give them each 10 hours a week and let them be awesome at that piece of the puzzle until you can up their hours. Focus is key to success. Getting people who are great at what they do makes all the difference to motivation, morale and results.

Lesson #3 is that candidates all want to know WIFM (what’s in it for me?).

So when you look at the type of role you need to fill and the type of person you need to fill it take a look at the way you’ve set the role up in terms of tasks, schedule, reporting, hours, salary, benefits and other perks. Does this list look like it would appeal to the type of person you’re after?

Are you asking for the earth and offering the bare minimum?

If the role would be ideal for a mum returning to work have you set it up for school hours?

If the role is based in an industrial estate but you’re looking for a super stylish and switched on marketing coordinator because you’re a beauty brand have you allowed for location-flexible working arrangements?

If you’re asking for 10 years experience but offering a $50k salary which one of these needs to change?

On a final note remember that recruitment is about starting a mutually beneficial, mutually rewarding relationship with someone. You have money and an opportunity for them to do something they are good at and enjoy – they have skills, knowledge, characteristics, abilities, networks, time and effort that they’re bringing to the table in exchange for that money and opportunity. Arguably they are bringing more than you are because you’re asking them to add value beyond their salary or you wouldn’t be hiring them right?

So for anyone who’s recruiting take the time to create an awesome ad (and selection process but that’s a whole different post!) because great ads attract great candidates, get shared with great candidates and give you the best shot of ending up with a great employee.

Note on platforms: Where relevant there may be a case for a niche platform but in most cases seek and career one are great – anyone who’s looking for a job WILL look there. I always recommend writing the ad and posting it on your own personal and business Facebook and LinkedIn accounts because often your network will be able to help you find the right candidate.

Hope this has been helpful.

Best of luck with finding the right person!

PS: If in doubt a recruiter can assist you but make sure you find one who is able to advise and guide you through the process not just take an order, place and ad and send through resumes cause you can do that yourself.

PPS: On selection – there are no rules here! You don’t actually have to ask them for a resume and cover letter, you can ask them for an essay on why they’re the right candidate for the role but I usually recommend asking them for something that will give them a chance to show who they are and how they might be suited to the role e.g. a scenario they might actually have to deal with and asking them how they would? If it’s for a more senior role just asking for a quick cover letter outlining why they’re interested in the role and a link to their LinkedIn profile will give you TONS of insight.

Last note: I strongly recommend doing the wealth dynamics profile test – as a business owner DEFINITELY do it – but if you’re hiring a team – get them to do it too – there’s a very basic free version but the paid is only $97 and helps you see if you’re hiring a complementary type person instead of someone just like you who may not be what you really need.