Small businesses need to rethink the way they are recruiting employees today. In good times, companies thrive by being in the right place at the right time. But in tough times, organizations grow by being important in the lives of their customers. The same is true for recruitment, retention, and the hiring journey.
Recruiting as a Marketing Function
Marketing is not a one-time event. It's an ongoing process that requires commitment and patience. Ad buyers often think of marketing as a vending machine—you put some money in, and out pops customers—but that's not how it works.
Recruiters do the same thing when they go to job boards like Monster or Indeed and just buy and run ads. You can’t just throw money at the problem; you have to build a repeatable system that lasts. That is how you build a full-proof recruiting system.
These statistics show that people in the market for a job have very similar experiences to consumers looking for a product. Their search for a job is more than one event or one moment. It is composed of a complete end-to-end journey.
Someone might first see your ad on a job board, but they will also verify your online reviews, look through your social media accounts, and visit your website.
People aren't candidates or consumers; they are both. People are just people and they can be marketed in the same way. So you need to take the systems you use to attract consumers to your brand and start using them to help you attract employees to work for you.
The MOST important thing to figure out if you want to GROW your business...
Rethinking the Customer & Employee Journey Workbook
In this post, you will not read about “quick hacks you can do find people” or “easy fixes.” Instead, I will focus on the strategies behind your hiring process. These are the strategies you need to know, and this is what will help with your recruitment strategies in the long run.
Three Steps to the Perfect Recruiting Strategy
Narrow your recruitment focus to your top ideal 20%
I preach this to our clients to help them attract customers. It is vital that you fully understand who makes a completely ideal customer for your business. The same is true about who makes an ideal employee for your organization.
Consider the top 20% of your employees, and ask yourself: Who drives the most profit? Who is the most productive? Who is the most committed or satisfied in their work? Who has the most comments, reviews, or shoutouts? Then make a list of common traits that you see among these people.
Create Three Lists
After identifying the common characteristics of your top 20% of employees, you'll want to create three lists. The first two are: "nice to have" and "ideal to have." What are some things you've found that are nice to have in an employee? And what are some ideal things? This information will help you create a culture fit.
Then take note of any experience or technical requirements needed. Try to only let this part sway your opinion if it is absolutely necessary.
This exercise will certainly help you determine who is an ideal fit for your organization. In addition, going through these motions will teach you how to market to your ideal candidate and give clarity on what to look for during the recruiting process.
When recruiting you should focus on creating diversity but aligning culture. Somebody who believes in your company's mission has ideal behaviors that will better serve your organization. Which, in turn, will better serve your customers compared to all the experience, background, and technical training.
Promise to solve a problem
Nobody wants what you sell, they want their problem solved, period. The best candidates for employment usually have a job already, but they want to find a better one. They want to get out of an environment that is not right for them. So you need to market that your business solves the problems they have in their current role.
What is the problem that your organization solves for employees?
How can you find out what your company's unique hiring proposition is? Or what problem can you solve? First, survey your current employees. Then build an employee branding strategy based on their answers.
Here is a list of sample questions to ask employees when recruiting;
- Why did you come to work with us?
- Why are you still working with us?
- What factors were involved in your decision to work for us?
- What do you like about working at this organization?
- Is there anything you don’t like about working at this organization? If so, how can we fix it?
The information received from this type of interview will offer valuable insights and better prepare you for your hiring journey. Therefore, it is crucial to keep the employee survey anonymous in order to collect the most accurate and authentic answers.
Focus on your employee branding strategy
Take a look at your main marketing message. Does it focus on your product or the service your people provide? Customers experience brands through direct contact with employees. So, unless you are just flat out selling a product, your main marketing message should highlight the people in your organization and how they help your target audience solve a problem.
Then you will want to see what your customers are saying online about your employees. Mine online reviews or feedback surveys. Are there any employees that customers mention by name? What are those employees like, and what are they doing that customers love? Promote those people and promote what they do for your customers and your brand through social media, newsletters, and your site.
These actions will help you figure out the problem you solve for your employees and double down on it during your recruiting and hiring process. It will also show that you value and act on your employees' feedback and appreciate their work through public and personal recognition.
All these things working together help you build a customer base that wants to do business with you, a dedicated staff that wants to work for your company, and new hires that want to join you.
Create an end-to-end journey
The cold, hard truth is that customers and employees don’t change companies; they change experiences. Your recruitment strategy should not be a one-time hiring event. You have to build a pipeline and create an end-to-end journey or a complete experience.
I use a model that depicts the end-to-end customer journey called the Marketing Hourglass. Customers first have to know about you, and then they need to decide if they like and trust you. Next, they actually buy from you. Then, if they have a good experience, they hopefully come back and buy again and maybe even refer you to others.
You can apply the overall customer journey strategy to the recruiting or hiring journey. Today, people learn about businesses through several different avenues, and it is not always a straight line. Many times, it is just the opposite. How people come to know, like, trust, and ultimately work for your company is inherently out of your direct control. As a result, you must be intentional about how your business shows up at each stage. Actively guiding the experience candidates have with your organization.
The stages of the recruiting journey hourglass are; know, like, trust, try, hire, retain, and refer.
The first three stages create employee relationships through awareness and relatability; know, like, and trust.
This is where employer branding comes in. Is your organization referred to as a great place to work? And if so, are you talking about it?
Do you share that you are hiring on places other than job boards? Do you mention it on your social channels or during interviews?
Advertising and posting on job sites is an obvious way to attract candidates, but there is no reason to be on these sites if you do not have a clear path to conversion.
When potential employees come to your site or social profiles to check you out, what story do they find? Do they see that you value your employees through your content? Who is the first point of contact in the hiring process? How fast is the follow-up? How easy do you make it for them to find out more?
At this stage, candidates want to know what other people say about your organization. Take stock of your social media mentions and online reviews. This is also a good opportunity to take control of the narrative and have your employees share their experiences with your target audience.
You must intentionally implement these steps as part of your brand's marketing and recruiting strategy.
The following two stages are the bridge to long-term employee success: Try and Hire
It can be extremely costly to have a lot of employee turnover, especially short-lived employee turnover, not to mention bad for your business's image and culture. So that is why it’s essential to get these stages right.
Take a look at your application process. Does it attract the best candidates or just eliminate the ones applying? Are there long surveys, or is it a rigorous phone screen? Is follow-up more than a week after applying? Do you set clear expectations at every stage of the hiring process?
Don’t let your organization be a victim of hires-remorse. Have you evaluated your onboarding process? What does the training process look like? Don’t just put systems in place that check off boxes; put the effort in and make these experiences exceptional.
The main takeaway is to hire people with the same care that you put into customer acquisition. For example, you would not have an extensive pre-qualifying questionnaire for your customers or not follow up with them after they purchased, so you shouldn’t do that to your potential hires.
The last two stages are the keys to growing with your team: Retain and Refer.
Year after year, the number one reason employees leave companies is a lack of respect or investment in their personal development. Growing with and investing in your team is how you build a stable business.
If your employees trust the hiring process they went through, they are more likely to refer others for open positions. They are also more likely to refer people they know if there is an excellent incentive. The incentives for referral hiring should be creative and benefit both the referrer and the new hire to be effective.
People don’t change jobs they change bosses.
Solve for the issue of respect. What if we came to view our customers and employees more like members. Guide people from where they are to where they want to go.
What else can be impacted in your business by doing this?
Investing in your recruiting journey will bolster your mission, solidify the messages you share with your audience, help in sales and training, increase services and help grow your business. It will also help with your hiring process.
What can start doing today today?
Go through each Recruiting Journey Stage of the and ask yourself, “What am I currently doing to build a pipeline of people interested in my organization? How am I nurturing that process?”
I use this workbook every day with clients. It has all of the tools described in this post. It is also a great planning document that you can use to create your customer and your employee journey.