…the more they change. Recruitment is one of those things.
In my previous life, I administered a 24-hr program for abused and neglected children, generally ages five through 12. Across five sites, it meant a staff of more than 100 (including managers, full-time staff, part-timers at all levels and a host of on-call substitutes). Some were more educated and experienced than others and some stayed longer than others. For entry-level positions, I hoped only for a year. The cream of the crop largely stayed more than two.
The job had a long learning curve, was emotionally grueling and as I see it from the vantage point of hindsight, was far too much to ask of folks without credentials and/or significant related experience. Nonetheless, I never experienced—not ever—a shortage of applicants. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for today.
On numerous occasions over the past few years, many of my colleagues in the nonprofit arena and I have found ourselves without adequate pools of applicants for both management and entry-level positions. Yes, in case you’re wondering, we used all of the traditional routes—newspaper ads, various Internet job boards and college career center postings. The jobs have offered better than average benefits and competitive wages. Still, nothing. I had to wonder why we weren’t attracting the barest trickle of inquiries. Here’s what I found and what we’re doing about it:
- It’s all about the BRAND. Despite an economy with pockets of epic unemployment rates, people are not just looking for jobs. They are looking for work that is meaningful, and where their time can make a difference. This seems especially true for those categorized as Generation Y, or the Millennials (defined by the Pew Research Center as those born after 1980), who purportedly account for 40 percent of all unemployed in this country (Marketwatch, 7/14).
Our recruitment efforts are now focused on the work of the organization—the mission—and the organization’s accomplishments that are related to the mission. We also now “recruit” continuously, ensuring that our good work is always being promoted and we are seen as an employer who has impact on communities.
- Don’t overlook the personal touch. With the explosion of social media and other online connections to potential employees, we may have forgotten the goodwill that can be generated by a smile (not a smiley) and a handshake (not a poke). In addition, old school GenX’ers and Boomers have long believed that GenY, notably “digital natives,” would rather interact online instead face-to-face.
We realized recruiting should happen in the community. All of the places potential applicants might be are where we SHOULD be—fairs, festivals, block parties, etc. Just as customers can be your best salespeople, our current employees are our best recruiters. Therefore, we asked them to help.
Recent research tells us the newest generations are not only NOT shunning personal interaction, but they may be craving it (USAToday, 1/14). We are finding ways to reach out to them outside of the digital arena. For example, we are currently forging the connections needed to participate in job fairs at colleges and universities, offering speakers to professors for their classrooms and participating in “expert” panels, where we have a moment to talk about the work we do.
In essence, we’ve learned that recruitment includes selling–the job, the organization, its mission and its impact, too. What does that mean for selection? I’ll look at that in my next blog post.