If you’ve read even a few of these messages, you know that I’m far too DRIVEN to have the patience to sit still long enough for an animal to walk up to me in the forest or for a fish to bite something off a hook… Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any issue at all with the folks who enjoy it; I’m just not one of them!
That same thing applies to my level of patience (read: willingness to sit by passively hoping for the best) in the recruiting process. Over the last several years, I’ve screened thousands of candidates for various positions and hired quite a few hundred. In doing that, I’ve used just about every tool you can imagine to get in front of what I hoped would be the right ones. That said, I’ve never struggled from having a shortage of candidates – but I have often had a less than qualified pool to choose from! (At one point, I was convinced that hiring for certain roles would be EASY if I didn’t have to do drug screens or background checks!) And while it’s not necessarily the best thing for complying with an Affirmative Action Plan (and I won’t bore/frustrate you with why), likely the best source for quality candidates I’ve ever had has been referrals from current employees or other business associates!
For as long as I’ve been in a hiring role, it seemed like those referrals were just a normal part of the process. I’ve since learned that this belief was more than a little bit naive… And as I think about it personally, I certainly try to be very careful about who I’m willing to refer where because that can impact my relationship with both parties involved.
If you’ve caught the two messages leading up to this one, Return on Investment and But What if They LEAVE…?, you likely know where I’m heading with this. The most effective thing I’ve seen for earning those good referrals has been taking the time to build a culture known for caring about the employee. And a piece of that is being willing to INVEST in the employees. As I’ve said in each of those previous messages, I’m not suggesting you (or I) throw money blindly into random training programs. But creating a solid and intentional employee development process can not only provide your existing workforce with the skillsets (and this doesn’t stop at technical knowledge) your business needs for standing out from everyone else in your industry, it also creates an atmosphere that the people who know you want to send their friends AND the people who learn about you WANT to be a part of!
One more piece of this is making sure you’re not hiding your light under a bushel. You’ll likely need to do a bit of promotion to be sure people know you’re willing to INVEST in this type of development; because not many companies truly make it part of their culture… But making this visible is the easiest part if you’re already actively recruiting in multiple traditional channels, you just make sure you’re mentioning it. Once it begins drawing in some high-quality talent, you’ll have a new challenge to deal with, watch for my message on retention next!