What should you do when you have low numbers of candidates applying for open job roles?
In this market, it could actually be good to have anyone apply for a job. And so we’re talking about how to have more great people apply for roles that you have open at your company.
We talk about seven different tactics or tools you can use to bring in new candidates so that you can fill those roles.
When you have low numbers of candidates applying for your open roles
Episode 103 – The Growth Whisperers
The Growth Whisperers is a weekly podcast hosted by Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence two advisors to mid-market businesses, one Australian, one Canadian, who each work with CEOs and Leadership Teams across the world with a mission to build enduring, great companies. Each weekly episode covers interesting situations and questions from the world of strategic planning, leadership development, talent and hiring in high growth entrepreneurial companies where real results matter.
When you have low numbers of candidates applying for your open roles
Brad Giles 00:13
Hi there, welcome to the growth whispers where everything that we talk about is building enduring great businesses, businesses, that last, businesses that matter businesses that make a difference to the entrepreneurs, the leaders, the owners, and the people who work in them. My name is Brad Giles. And today, as always, I’m joined by my co host, Kevin Lawrence, Kevin. Hello, and how are you doing today? Doing great, Brad.
Kevin Lawrence 00:37
Looking forward to today’s show. We’re talking about a very, very relevant topic. And I’m really looking forward to it.
Brad Giles 00:45
Oh, it’s so timely at the moment I’m itching to get into it, because it is the topic of conversation at many of our meetings. Yes, as always, we like to start with a word or phrase of the day. And so what might be your word or phrase of the day care,
Kevin Lawrence 01:00
you know what mine is trivia. It’s a French which French for very good. We just had a great time on a weekend with a bunch of friends with a French themed evening. And how it’s it’s fun to explore the world through different lenses. So thinking about French music, French food, French wine, anything French was kind of what people were thinking about for the evening and come together and having a great time with friends, which is always good. But just know that trivia is just do obviously, a very good in a good time. But then also looking at the world through different lenses, which is always really, really, really interesting. For me, I love it. Lovely,
Brad Giles 01:40
lovely. Mine would be balanced. And so sometimes, you and I have discussed on many occasions, our lives may get out of balance. And so you may be familiar with that. And our listeners may also be familiar with that. So yeah, it’s just about trying to get some balance at the minute, which is probably a little bit more personal. Although obviously resonates with most of the listeners on the call as well, I imagine.
Kevin Lawrence 02:08
Absolutely. So trade via balance or translated English, very good balance. So very good balance is what we’re looking for. And I agree that’s something this is a month where I have a bunch of time off, and which is very good for my balance. Also good for my thinking and my clarity. Awesome. So what do we what are we digging into today? Brad, what is this topic that we’re excited to be talking about ensuring some perspectives on?
Brad Giles 02:35
Well, sometimes people put a job advert out there, or they have a vacancy, and they don’t get a lot of people apply for the role. And that can be a little bit frustrating. So So what do you do when you’ve got low numbers of candidates applying for your open roles? So how do you deal with that?
Kevin Lawrence 02:59
Yeah, and then this economy we’re in that is booming. It’s a tighter, tighter market, there is more demand than supply of great can’t, it’s always hard to find great candidates for roles always. But now it’s just harder, because there’s just you know, lots of people are employed in some places are getting closer to their, their version of full employment. So yeah, that’s the market that we’re in right now. And we’re going to dig into it. And, and find out some ideas of what we see other people doing that are helping them to be successful. And the thing I want to start with saying is, everyone’s situation is different. And generally, you know, as we get into our first point is, don’t forget the basics, the structure and dynamics of the market have not changed. The ways in which people seek employment are still the same. It’s just, uh, you know, the supply demand equation has gone a different direction than it used to be. But fundamentally, nothing has really changed dramatically in the last few years. So don’t forget the basics. And the number one basic when we call it recruiting from your existing network, and the first version of it is, is leveraging your existing team that already knows that you’re an awesome company. And hopefully, you’re you are an awesome company. But this is one that most people miss the boat on. They are your best spokespeople, you know, and if you’re doing engagement surveys, and if you’ve got a great company and your engagements, you know, you’re using, you know, the Net Promoter system for employees, you know, your engagement score north of 50 is excellent. You got a lot of people no matter what measure use if you’ve got a highly engaged team. That means that they’re passionate about it, and they’re likely to be very good at recruiting other people because they’re just going to tell them what a great place you have. But they’re busy doing their jobs, and then they’re at their kids baseball game or soccer match or whatever it is. And they’re not thinking about it, the thinking what everything else are all then people under leverage getting the existing team to be your best recruitment force,
Brad Giles 05:09
I think it’s probably the most important. And the thing that I’ve seen work the most effectively, okay, the thing that it’s perhaps gives the biggest bang for the buck out of all of the things that we’ve we’ve really outlined here is applying, I’m going to say pressure, but applying a focus on getting the team to, to come up with, let’s say, one or two or three potential candidates per month, per week, per whatever. But if we can get some peer pressure and some focus, focus, remember, people respect what you inspect. Okay, so you’re inspecting. And you’re really focused on the number of candidates that are coming in, because it’s a problem? Well, people are going to, you know, they’re going to respect that they’re going to provide more of their time to it. So we’ve got to be able to get leverage from the team.
Kevin Lawrence 06:16
Yeah, and I would say, as you say, this is the greatest opportunity, you’ve seen the most success, I’ve actually also seen this as the greatest point of failure, because people take the wrong approaches. And what doesn’t seem to work is bribing your people to do it, offering bigger incentives tends to provide zero additional candidates or value or close to zero. And people say, Oh, well, you know, our referral incentive is $500, maybe we should make it 5000 or 2500, I have not seen the needle move because of it. Because just because you bribe someone to do it, they already love you and think you’re great. You don’t need to bribe them. It’s a misguided belief. And if you’ve made that work in your company, great, congratulations, rewarding people for doing awesome stuff, I think is great. But as Brad pointed out, genuinely, peer pressure is more likely to do it. And reminder. So for example, we have a company we work with in the US that needed to recruit a lot of people. And they rallied the team. And they got everyone knowing all of the key roles. And they broke up by department in every department had a target. And it was like Brad talked about, if it was the Department of 15, they had a target of 45 over the quarter 15 a month, one per person every month to produce candidates for any of the roles in the company. And we just wanted candidate flow. Because these were, again, our best spokespeople. So teams would have brainstorming sessions. Okay, here’s the 17 roles, who do you know, who do you know that might know people would make catalysts? And then reach out and contact these people and ask, you know, they would give them quick little job descriptions and some messages, they can text, in many cases, text to people to share what was about and then links they could send if there was interest to either the HR team directly or the or the Jobs page. But it was an effort where everyone was expected to do it and contribute whatever they could. They got amazing results. We had a similar one we did in the Middle East. And there we did a whole theme button when we called it wanted, you know, the old wild west wanted people behind bars. And again, they were hiring 42 people and we had little wanted pictures for each of the different things and they did offer a reward. But it was the theme and the engagement that drove it where people again were into their networks recruiting candidates and it became a company wide activity broken down with team based accountabilities that works well because it’s not that people don’t know people and it’s not they don’t want to they’re just busy and they forget they need supportive pressure to go and do the right things.
Brad Giles 09:01
It’s crazy that the monetary incentives that we think would work just don’t work I’ve seen exactly the same thing where we up the you know the retention, not retention we up the kind of the bonus that we’d pay up, we get someone in, but it just doesn’t work. I mean, it’s obscene that people
Kevin Lawrence 09:20
aren’t a coin operated pop. Contrary to popular belief. Most people aren’t coin operated. Their pride operated. You know, we go back to the book drive by Daniel Pink. We’re driven by three things, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Now, if you’re making $12.75 An hour and you got a family of four, you’re probably a little more coin operated than typical because you have to be to provide for your family. But when you get into management positions, generally people are able to cover their bills generally. And they’re not in survival mode or even psychologically that coin operated and we over at overestimate the impact of financial incentives. That’s a whole other episode. But it’s just it’s it’s misinformed.
Brad Giles 10:07
I had a exactly the same thing. I had a situation with our leadership team. And we needed multiple roles, it must have been 20 or 25 roles. And so we said it wasn’t it was more of a critical number than a theme in the way you’re describing it with the wanted posted, but we said a critical number. And we said, look, if we can get three candidates in the quarter, from everyone in the leadership team and the mid management team, we’re going to totally solve this problem. And I mean, we may not have solved it perfectly with every role. But without that effort, we never would have got as close to what we needed.
Kevin Lawrence 10:47
So your people on your team, we’re going to come back and say, well, we need to provide a better instead of don’t waste time. And if you do, and if you want to do it fine. But that’s not what drives the result. What drives the results is the alignment and the accountability and rallying people and making it fun and exciting, and giving them space and time to think and act on it. So if you want to put incentive, feel free, just know that that’s more of a thank you, then something that’s going to drive the behavior. Yeah, it was, it’s a great thing to do. And, you know, it’s just, it’s an a missed opportunity in a lot of organizations, it’s even better to do it, when you’ve just recruited people from other companies, you’ve just recruited awesome people from other companies. And there’s a window of time there where they could also bring some friends and colleagues along. So that’s number one. Don’t forget the basics, leverage the existing team, rally them, get them excited, reward them, by all means, but know that it’s the rallying and activity time that makes it happen. So the second one, in a similar vein, but as to do the same thing with your network outside the company. Now, this is going and spending time and talking to your friends, colleagues, suppliers, customers, maybe it’s your college roommates, or professors or the coach of your kids baseball team that you know, is in a similar industry, it doesn’t matter who or where. And again, this is something that that many leaders that we work with, could do much better at no different than prospecting for customers. But prospecting for talent. And it’s a massive opportunity again, but people are busy, and they genuinely don’t give it the priority.
Brad Giles 12:33
Yep. So when we’ve run programs around this, we set up the script for people to say to suppliers, the higher up it comes from the better as in the closer to the CEO. But the script is something like if you were a supplier, Kevin, I would say to you, Hey, Kevin, you know, we’re on a growth trajectory. And we know that you’re dealing with people just like us all the time. I’m just wondering who might be the best person that you’ve seen or heard about who you think might be an awesome fit for us? Yes. Because if we can rinse and repeat that with many of the latest in the business, across all of our supplier networks, I mean, you could get 1020 30 candidates from that even perhaps, and you start to
Kevin Lawrence 13:27
build the database of who the best people in the business are. You’ll hear names as few times if you’re in the same industry, oh, you got to talk to Sally over here at such and such. So it’s yes, it’s an awesome, awesome,
Brad Giles 13:39
I know what we’ve missed on that bit there, right is the underlying psychology because people like you said people are busy. Okay. Our leaders are busy. They, they this is just another thing on a huge to do list. But if you were walking down the street, and someone was sort of holding a map, or they look like they didn’t know where to go, and they said, oh, sorry, can you help me? I’d like to get here. People are going to, most people are going to naturally help. If we go and ask our suppliers for help. They’re gonna naturally want to help.
Kevin Lawrence 14:15
Good call. Yes, very good. You just got to make the invitation and open the door. The other technique on leveraging the network that we’ve done in meetings within strapped planning meetings and one of my clients there 750 employees, we’ve been in meetings of the CEO says, Okay, now we’re going to do our recruitment. We stop the meeting, and for half an hour, everyone sits in their laptop on LinkedIn for the three key roles that we needed. And everyone starts going through the network directly the people that could be candidates they know from the past, or two people that might know and live. We’ve hired some great people over that process. But basically carving out the time everyone knows they should do it. They just don’t get to it. And basically let’s do our homework right now and it works very, very well. Well, and the idea is, it’s not on your active contact, it’s reactivating old contacts you haven’t talked to for a long time because the inactive contacts run in different circles, your active contacts are generally in similar circles, but they’re reactive. Some of them reactivating past contacts can sometimes be more fruitful, because you know, very, very different people. So that’s number two, proactively leverage your existing network that you have, but that is outside of the company, and making invitations and asking, as Brad pointed out for their help.
Brad Giles 15:33
Number three, double down on internal recruiters or the use of external recruiters. So when these we’ve got to think, what is the value of the recruiter, okay, through our lens, but more importantly, through their lens. So if if you were going to sell a recruitment firm, what you would talk about is the quantity of candidates that are in your pool or your database. Okay, so the s, yes, the sales is important. But one of the great values in a recruiter is the quantity of candidates in their database and the app theoretically,
Kevin Lawrence 16:12
we might have another debate if that is true, it truly is value, but it definitely is the sales pitch.
Brad Giles 16:20
It’s the it’s this. Oh, no, I agree with you there. It’s their sales pitch. But that’s the value proposition that they’re bringing to our equation. Yes, maybe that is a yes. Well, the next point,
Kevin Lawrence 16:36
sure. Will you continue on all added? If I need to? Yes, yeah,
Brad Giles 16:39
it’s about so if What if the value that they say they’re bringing is their database? Their database? Isn’t? Every single candidate? No, right. So they may have 1020 3040 50 60% of the market in their database, but they don’t have everyone. And so if we doubled down if we look for different recruiters, or if we try to find a more diverse, let’s say, put to put it into sales terminology, if we have a wider funnel, if we cast a wider net, it’s going to give us a better chance of capturing more of the candidates, or the potential candidates in the market.
Kevin Lawrence 17:19
Yeah, I think I wanted to make a point there, Brad, is that recruiters often pitch to their databases, their asset? Well, we found from executive recruitment, it’s often the crush they lean on. But many times they’re recycling the same old B players. So it sounds like a value prop. And often when we look for recruiters, we’re looking for people that are going to go actually headhunt take a targeted role in targeted companies and going hire people or to chase people who are actively engaged and not just recycle their database at us.
Brad Giles 17:52
And wait because saying the same thing. Perfect. Like, I totally agree with that. And because the fundament the internal principle is that recruiters are limited to what they can do or what they have, what they have. And our job when we’re hiring is to get the right person in the role. So there’s
Kevin Lawrence 18:14
yes that no matter what the principle that we agree on is tapping into people who either have their own network that’s different than ours, or an ability to go and cold call and open up doors and target people that we need them to target. Either way, it’s putting yourself into a different bubble or a different environment by leveraging other people’s networks. With what that’s what the external recruiter or the internal, it’s just put more muscle on the job. Like, you know, it’s at the end of the day, when the economy is soft, we often allocate more money to marketing and sales. And when the economy is booming, we often don’t need as much there, we actually need more of it on getting talent. So it’s almost like let’s take some of your dollars and your energy from sales and marketing and allocate it to recruitment and hiring an additional internal recruiter or external agencies, whichever is appropriate for you guys.
Brad Giles 19:08
So let’s move on to number four. If posting job ads, get your creative sales hat on what is the your unique value proposition that the best candidates will resonate with? So if you’ve got a crappy job ad, there’s a very good chance that it’s going to potentially impact the number or quality of candidates you get who would have thought, right? Yeah,
Kevin Lawrence 19:32
and often job ads are just basically the top part of a job description dropped into you know, an ad and URL getting you know your creative mind on how do you sell the opportunity? What need Are you solving for person, what’s unique about what you have to offer, and truly getting people to understand it and putting it in a way where it just sticks out from all the other one to make sure that the candidates apply to your particular jobs. And you can look at Episode 67, we talked about why should anyone come work for you at the same salary as your competitors. The key point is put your sales and marketing hat on, don’t just post the top of the job description, make it compelling, and make it stick out from the crowd in a way that’s reflective of what you’re about.
Brad Giles 20:23
So go ahead. So number, yeah, number two, we spoke about leveraging the network, your network, your suppliers, your customers, your colleagues. But then the next one that we’re talking about is ask everyone everywhere. And so waiters, sales people, delivery drivers, cell phone service people, like everybody, you know that Apple, when you’re an Apple employee, you get a card, like a business card kind of size. And whenever they come across awesome servers, they asked to give this business card to the person and it says, I can’t remember the exact words, but it says something like, the service that you provided now was exceptional. I’ve never asked you to move but ever you ever you’re thinking about moving jobs, we’d love to have a chat with you at Apple. And like, they all they given. They’re all given these cards, and if ever they experience it, so they’ve always got people who are interacting with others, and then able to build that referral network that candidate pool. Yeah.
Kevin Lawrence 21:36
The main thing is, is when you’re out and about and you see greatness, invite greatness to come join. Yeah, that’s it. It’s just always be recruiting and thinking about it. That’s so that’s number five, ask everyone everywhere. Number six, leverage your marketing team, we already talked a little bit about putting more dollars to recruitment. You could also allocate more dollars from your marketing of your products and services to the marketing of getting talent because that’s where the markets tighter right now for most companies. So whatever your marketing teams capabilities are, or your external marketing consultancy, you use get them using the social platform, people are doing stuff on Facebook and Instagram and Tik Tok and good old Google search, you know, whatever it happens to be, but what do you do to reach out to people who either don’t know you, or haven’t thought about your recently, to get them coming to you to see what you’re about and what you have to offer. And, you know, obviously, in the next point, we’ll talk about what you want people to see when they come to your site. But letting people know, again, what’s unique about you, but reaching out to the not just the job sites, but you know, the other social platforms where people would be engaging, and you know, and it could be LinkedIn, whatever it is, the idea is to get your marketing team on it, and getting them testing different channels to see what produces the best results.
Brad Giles 22:55
Awesome. And then number seven, do you have an awesome Jobs page? Well, in Australia, the leading job board is called seek His EK, and they get I don’t, I don’t know, the accurate I’m gonna estimate. It’s like 7080 90% of all job adverts. They tend it’s a it’s a real monopoly in that sense. But within this same market, there are more job adverts on Google or job searches on Google than there are on seek. Okay. And that’s typical across the world that Google or SEO, search engine is a much better way, or is another channel to try to get people. So that means that you’ve got to have a page on your website that’s dedicated to jobs. And it’s got to be jobs that are SEO friendly, such as we’re looking for an a mechanical engineer. And this is all the descriptions of a job in the same way you would put into a job board.
Kevin Lawrence 23:57
And when they do get to the Jobs page, it needs to sell your company, and the opportunity and why coming to work for you would be the best decision they could make at this point in time. Of course, there’s got to be the details on the jobs but selling the company instilling the culture and, and the opportunity are absolutely critical. Awesome, great list. So really, just to kind of go back to the top, and we’ll kind of sum this up. This is basically we’re not good enough candidates. Here’s a bunch of different strategies. And in this market, this is important for a lot of people. And you know, number one, don’t forget the basics. Leveraging your existing team and rallying them not just putting a carrot out in front of them, but rallying them to go and recruit into their networks and making it easy for them to tell the story about the opportunities you have available. And then the same thing outside of the company into your existing networks and colleagues and suppliers and college roommates, whatever it happens to be letting them know what you need and asking them to help you find awesome people that would be relevant for those roles. Number Three double down on internal recruiters or external recruiters get more muscle behind the job. And for a lot of roles, it’s worth paying the extra cost to hire an additional recruiter if you’re of enough size, or even a part time one, or 10 full time ones depending on the scale of your business or using external agencies to help put more muscle behind getting rowdy wanting number for them
Brad Giles 25:21
on indeed. So it’s about job ads. Number four, if you’re creating job ads that are mediocre, you may not even get any candidates in this market. And so your job advert must come from a creative sales hat, and it must resonate with candidates. And again, we did a episode number 67. Seven on this, why should anyone come and work for you at the same salary as your competitors? Number five, ask everyone everywhere? Why does sales people we gave the example of Apple giving out business cards to try to improve their candidate pool? Number six, leverage your marketing team. So marketing teams that are only focused on customer leads could potentially also be dedicated internal or external on candidate leads. So this is about getting leads. That’s what the marketing team does. So get them to come up with creative campaigns to bring in new candidates. Then number seven, of course, is do you have an awesome Jobs page? So you’ve got to have a page on your website that talks about the open jobs that you have, so that you can perhaps get more candidates through that angle? What a good chat we’ve had today, Kevin?
Kevin Lawrence 26:32
Awesome. Yes. So hey, thanks for listening to the growth whispers this week. I’m Kevin Lawrence. And as you know, my co host here is Brad Giles, who you can reach for information on him and his firm and his awesome newsletter at evolution partners.com.au And for myself in our firm laurenson co Lawrence and CO a nd co.com. Same thing more about our firm and what we do and our awesome newsletter if I could so humbly say that. Have an awesome week and good luck getting all the candidates that you want for your role so you can build an awesome team of a players. Have a good one.
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