"Desperate HR Manager: 'Tell Me The Secret! How Do We Attract the Best Candidates?" - 06/30/21 Edition
Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

I’m an HR director at a manufacturer with a very effective team of internal recruiters. We attract candidates through our website, LinkedIn, and on rare occasions we may use a recruiter. We’re having a difficult time attracting candidates today, each opening is taking longer and longer. It’s definitely not the same problems that companies like Starbucks and Walmart are having where no one wants to work because they are collecting unemployment with equal to or greater pay than they were receiving pre-pandemic. And it’s definitely not because our wages aren’t high enough. We pay a very high base salary with a no cap on the incentive. Employees get a company car allowance, generous T&E, medical and dental benefits that are almost fully company paid, and a 401K. Something is missing, I just can’t figure out what it is. My LinkedIn ads are attracting less and less people and even when our internal recruiters talk to candidates, we don’t get past one interview. You’ve poached enough of my people, so I don’t mind boldly asking you: what’s the headhunter’s secret to attracting candidates and getting them to “yes!”?

-Desperate in HR for Sales Reps

Dear Desperate,

Everyone is experiencing the same problem today. You’re 100% correct, there is no analogy between the news stories we see about companies like Costco having a hard time attracting enough employees and the highly paid sales reps in the contract furniture industry. There’s no comparison between the two. I am happy to share some tips for manufactures and dealers to recruit employees themselves, because the better we all do, the better the industry does. However, keep in mind recruiters are able to use different tips and secrets that can never be duplicated by a company who recruits directly.  That is because you should think of recruiters as a back channel able to build an objective relationship with a candidate. That third party relationship with the candidate benefits you by the recruiter persuading a candidate to say yes to an offer in a way that is difficult to do yourself.  Trying to hire salespeople yourself, is like trying to sell your own house without a realtor.  You can do it, it will just take longer to be successful.

First, in my opinion, there’s an over saturation of manufacturers and dealers relying on these very general LinkedIn ads. Whether they’re placed by a regional manager, or your people in HR at headquarters, they’re all beginning to look the same and candidates just blur past them. It’s typically a nice photograph of your product, explaining why you’re the best company to work for. Why would you be running the same ad for four months if your company is such a great place to work? If you insist on running an ad, why not tout your great benefits? Maybe consider changing up those benefits and improving them? Candidates will often trade free medical and compromise on the salary.

Second tip I have for you is to promote and advertise a generous base salary - not the overused and tiresome concept of “unlimited incentive”. Exclaim “we pay the highest base salaries in the industry! Come talk to us!” There’s your LinkedIn headline – not a picture of your latest chair!

Third, try using your team of internal recruiters that you’re boasting about to do what you’re paying them to do, and that is cold-call people directly from your competitors. That’s what most good headhunters do. And tell your internal recruiters to work the phone. That means, literally call those sales candidates on the telephone. Make human contact. Don’t leave a long paper trail on LinkedIn that a candidate can just use to get a raise.

The next tip I have is to suggest that you double the finder’s fee for internal employees for recommending people that you ultimately hire for a job. If you are giving $2,500 for a recommendation, raise it $5,000. If you are giving $5,000, give $10,000. Maybe throw in an extra week’s vacation for that year. Good employees that work for you already always tend to recommend great employees for you to have come work there. People trust their friend’s recommendations. I’m also happy to talk to any Human Resources executives or recruiters who work internally, even if you’re not clients of The Viscusi Group, and give you a free consultation on how to improve your recruiting efforts.

The fifth final and simplest tip I could give you is to make it easier to find the openings that you already have on your company website! Navigating the employment section of a company’s website is incredibly difficult for most candidates trying to apply to a furniture manufacturer. Why do you make it so difficult? Make it easier, and you’ll attract more candidates. There’s enough openings and enough candidates for all of us. I hope this helps.