In an article I published about 18 months ago, I described how Enterprise Rent-a-Car had drawn me into their staff-recruitment efforts.
“We’re hiring. Do you know someone who is looking for a job?” asked the person assisting me.
I couldn’t help him, but he had helped me. I had just received a lesson in recruiting staff: ask your customers.
It’s simple, takes almost no time and doesn’t cost a cent.
Few customers are likely to be looking for a job or to know anyone who is. But even if it takes 100 asks before one customer responds that she will tell someone who might be interested, someone who might never have considered Enterprise as a potential employer will do so.
Since then, I have discovered nine other ways—in addition to Enterprise’s direct approach—which organizations are doing or could do to involve customers in their efforts to find candidates to fill vacancies.
Perhaps some of these simple, low-cost tactics can work for you:
1. Talk to your customers – about the weather, about the local sports team or their summer plans—and, oh yes, about the vacancies you need to fill. “We’re hiring. Know anyone who might be interested?”
2. Ask about family members: This is a variation on the Enterprise theme, but more focused. Ask regular customers about their kids. “Is your son Jordan looking for a job for after school or on weekends?”
3. On-site posters: This is a common recruitment tool, which you can easily make uncommon.
Often, recruiters rely on a generic, “Now Hiring” message. This advertising conveys nothing about why people should come to work for the organization. It looks like everyone else’s ads and only lists the position. It might as well read, “Come work for us. We’re just as boring as the next guy.”
Unless your organization truly is that boring, liven up your on-site job postings in a way that demonstrates that yours is a great, exciting place to work. One coffee shop seemed to get that, with an in-store poster that really showed why it was the right place to work. In part, it read:
“We are looking for passionate individuals [who] want to embrace their love for coffee, deliver an exceptional guest experience and become a valued member of our team. If you are looking for a place to interact with great people and enhance your guest service knowledge through world-class training, then look no further.”
Another coffee shop got right to the point, with a hard-to-resist challenge: “We are now hiring. Qualifications: must be awesome. If this describes you, come prove it.”
Here are two more suggestions for more creative recruitment posters:
- Post a sign at a vacant service desk: “We would like to serve you more quickly, but to do that, we need to hire more staff. Know anyone who might be a great addition to our team?”
- Looking to hire a custodian? Emphasize the importance of the job. “Help create a clean learning environment where students will remain safe and healthy.”
In addition to conveying the message about being a boring place to work, posters can also send unintended messages. Posters that remain up so long that they turn yellow with age scream, “No one wants to work here! Why should you?”
Another sign that lends itself to misinterpretation is one that announces that the company is, “Always Hiring,” which logically is only possible if employees are always quitting. Doesn’t sound like a place where a quality jobseeker would want to be.
4. Signs near the business: Some businesses have found sandwich boards on the sidewalk in front of the business or on temporary signs on the boulevard, which advertise jobs, have attracted qualified candidates.
5. Flyers: Prepare a full or half-page advertisement, which can be left where the customers can pick it up. Staff members could hand this information to customers or slip it into bags with their purchases.
6. Application Forms: Display them prominently. Without you saying anything, the customer gets the message. You’re hiring.
7. Prepare current staff: Before implementing your ask-customers recruitment strategy, let your staff know about your plans and the role they can play. Provide a script. Prepare them to answer questions customers have about the positions you hope to fill or about the next step in the application process.
Encourage them to show enthusiasm when approaching customers to ask if they know of someone who is seeking employment or when customers have questions. This is key to your success. Just like boring advertising, employees who appear bored will give the wrong impression of your workplace.
8. “Upselling” the job: It’s common, particularly in food service, to ask customers if they would like to add to their order. “Would you like a cookie or a croissant with your coffee today? Maybe you would be interested in a job with us?”
9. Newsletter: If you send a customer newsletter, use this as a vehicle to let them know you are hiring.
Suggested Action: Develop your own creative approach to make customers part of your recruitment strategy. Which of these tactics can you adopt or adapt for your use? Are there others?