What to do When Word of Mouth Hiring Stops Working

Just about every day I talk to people who are hiring. Lately, I’ve started to hear something over and over.
“We used to hire by word of mouth.”
Lots of companies never had to post job ads or do any kind of active recruiting until recently. Instead, people were always in touch with them looking for their next job, and the companies could just get in contact with the most interesting applicants when they needed to hire.
But all of a sudden, it’s not working.
What’s going on?
What a lot of people don’t realize is that we’re in the middle of one of the most difficult times to hire ever in the United States. Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 10 years, and employment is at its highest.
There are more unfilled job postings than ever in the U.S. and the average time to fill a position has been hovering between 27 and 29 days, an all-time high.
All of those word-of-mouth employees you used to get are probably employed now, and still being actively contacted by recruiters. We’re at a point where everyone needs to work to get their next employee.
Here are a few pointers to help out those employers who have had to start reaching out to fill roles for the first time.

How Job Descriptions are a Recruiting Hack

The great recession was an easy time for a lot of employers. When unemployment peaked at 9.8 percent in 2010, it was easy for people to fill most positions.
I think this is part of the reason why job descriptions that you come across on the average job board are so bad.
There’s almost nothing differentiating one from the other, and they tend to focus on what the employer is demanding from an employee, with nothing about why an employee should want to work for the company.
This probably worked fine when unemployment was high, but it’s a terrible way to advertise jobs now.
When you write your next job posting think about it from your ideal employee’s perspective. What about your company and this position would attract them to work for you? Imagine they’ve already got a job and two other companies trying to lure them away.
Why should they quit their current job and go to work for you rather than another company?
You may have some ideas about this, but there’s a way to go even deeper and find out exactly where you can get a hiring edge on the competition.
Go to Glassdoor and do a search for the position you’re hiring for. Click on one of the companies that comes up in the left sidebar, then click on reviews and read through them, paying attention to the “Cons” section of each one.
Read through a lot of these, until you come up with a list of several common complaints. Now, can you counter these?
In other words, if everyone is complaining about having to work with low-quality equipment, a sub-par workspace, or lack of paid time off, can you offer one or all of these things?
It may cost you a little more in some ways, but being able to snag the best employees off the market should more than make up for it.
Now, take these cons that you’ve flipped into pros of working at your business, and put them in the title or first paragraph of your job posting.
Next talk to your employees and find out what their favorite things are about the job, their co-workers, the area and the location.
Your job ad should consist mostly of this information, along with salary range and benefits, and only the absolutely most necessary skills or requirements for the job.

Getting the Word Out

Ok, you’ve got your job posting. How do you get the word out to potential employees?
First off, if you don’t already have one, get a career page on your website and post it there.
This is the way to get some of those word-of-mouth employees back. People who are already interested in your company and what it’s doing will find this page and apply.
These are great potential employees.
After that, you’ll want to have a look at some of the top-tier websites, such as Careerbuilder, Monster and Indeed. If you need to get the word about your job out to a wide audience, these are the places that can do it.
You’ll also want to check out the niche job sites. These are industry-specific boards. People in these industries will often keep up with niche boards as a way to see what’s happening in their profession. If you post a really stand out job description there, you might be able to snag some of these window shopping candidates.

Ok, that should give you a couple simple, actionable ways to get out there and start actively attracting great employees. Good luck hiring!

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