Ten Ways to Source and Recruit the Right Talent
By Leigh Branham Founder & Principal, Keeping the People, Inc. | March 15, 2020
Let me say one key truth right up front-all the smartest, most creative, and proven sourcing strategies and tactics will only go so far. The best way to attract and recruit the right talent is by becoming a great place to work. That means having senior leaders and managers who demonstrate daily that they care about, respect, value, nurture, and invest in workers at every level.
In turn, workers who feel taken care of will take better care of guests and customers and spread the word to friends and relatives about how lucky they are to work at your hotel.
Having said that, and assuming you are doing everything you can to build a better workplace, I offer the following ten ways to source and recruit the right talent:
1. Enhance Your Associate Referral Program
This is the most proven "guerilla tactic" for sourcing and recruiting because it remains the number-one method that people find jobs-through their own personal social networks. If you have not yet created an employee referral program that rewards current associates who refer an individual who is hired and stays for at least six months, then you need to do so today. The reward need not be a cash bonus for every referral. Some employers have a once-a-year drawing in which every associate who made a successful referral is entered with the chance to win a week's paid vacation in an exotic location.
Other ways to leverage your associates' social connections include: Asking new hires to provide the contact information for their five best former coworkers or classmates; Asking current associates for the names of three people they would feel comfortable referring; hosting a free breakfast for associates and their friends who may be in the job market; Encouraging your associates to connect with and refer their best former co-workers through Linked-In; Training all managers to capture the names and contact information of impressive individuals they meet at conferences and elsewhere. (Over time, this serves to create a talent database for sending a quarterly e-newsletter that reminds them of what makes your hotel a great place to work); creating a "most wanted" list of prospective associates for circulation among current associates and staying in regular touch with everyone on it. (I know of one employer goes so far as to send cookies to the home of prospective hires on New Year's Day).
2. Leverage Social Media
Hospitality employers are becoming more sophisticated using social media as a recruiting tool with each passing year. Most are building followers on Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by posting career pages and updates on career opportunities featuring photos, videos, and even live events, such as a panel of recruiters discussing job openings and career paths and fielding questions. Many employers use Linked-In Recruiter to quickly develop a list of prospects by clicking on the buttons "Similar profiles" and "Viewers of this profile also viewed…." You may also want to encourage your team members to connect through Linked-In with their best former co-workers, then search and discover their connections.
3. Use All Available Job Postings
In addition to posting job openings on the dozens of hospitality association, tourism, conference and events management sites, use job boards such as Career Builder, Monster, Glassdoor, Craigslist, Snagajob, Geebo, Linkup, USAJobs, and SimplyHired to name a few. Don't forget to also post jobs on university websites, especially those that offer hospitality programs and degrees. (Of course, you will want to develop close relationships with department heads in those programs and with career center directors at those schools so they can reliably refer quality candidates). Also consider listing open positions at your alma mater's alumni office. Other places to list include career transition (outplacement) firms, and community job clubs and job hotlines.
4. Enhance Your Website
Make your website more compelling and effective by showing streaming videos of enthusiastic team members discussing their career paths and what they like about the organization. Marriott's career site is exemplary, offering candidates advice on how to "Rock Your Interview" by "Telling your Story" and making it relevant to the specific competencies they are seeking. Some employers even link up web-surfing job seekers via chats with current happy associates so they can ask questions and even develop relationships.
You may also consider having teams from different departments and locations write blogs on your site about exciting new projects and trends. Other employers allow candidates to create their ideal job description on the website to see how close it comes to matching available opportunities.
Making your website efficient and user-friendly has become more important in recent years. As attention spans have shortened, so have the application forms used to pre-screen candidates. In case the candidate doesn't find a job or career path that looks like a fit, invite them to share with a friend who may be a better fit. Finally, make use of career site optimization to track user analytics such as conversion rate.
5. Expand Your Talent Pool
It is a recruiting truism that the larger the talent pool, the more likely you are to find the right hire. Here are some of the ways employers in hospitality and other industries have looked "outside the box" to fill open jobs:
- Creating your own training course/center and recruiting those who attend
- Sponsoring internships or apprenticeship programs for high school or college students
- Looking for prospects with experience in related industries
- Establishing relationships with military and veterans organizations
- Expanding your recruiting globally by recruiting from the huge pool of capable and enthusiastic candidates available through international agencies, associations, and schools
- Recruiting more part-time or temporary workers for positions that have previously been full-time only
- Recruiting those you have contacted as references for previous candidates
- Hosting invitation-only open houses for individuals that you know to be job seekers or career changers
- Contacting real estate and relocation firms that are interested in assisting relocated spouses with finding new jobs. (Also seek referrals through community welcoming organizations)
- Hosting a free resume critique or interviewing skills workshop where you can be on the lookout for the right talent
- Seeking referrals through social service aid organizations
- Leaving your business card with individuals who give you exceptional retail service
- Eliminating certain undesirable job tasks and reassigning those tasks to associates who may be easier to recruit
- Reducing minimum grade-point-averages or years of experience required that limit the candidate pool
- Including the words "No experience necessary" or "Will train" in job ads
- Relaxing policies that forbid the hiring of relatives
- Expanding your college recruiting beyond an exclusive list of "the best" universities (Many of your best hires may be found at lesser-known universities and state or community colleges.)
6. Reach Out to Your Community
There are many ways to get out of your office and get face-to-face with new prospects, such as: Getting familiar with the kinds of outside interests (sports events, musical concerts, food fairs, etc.) and set up a recruiting booth where they gather in their leisure time; Recruiting a more diverse workforce by setting up booths at minority career fairs on college campuses with more diverse students populations and by posting jobs with organizations such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Developing early relationships with young students via classroom presentations about hospitality jobs and by introducing your organization to school administrators and faculty.
Encouraging all associates to volunteer for philanthropic activities, which will reflect favorably on your organization and help build relationships between your staff and potential recruits; Sponsoring or hosting a local professional association meeting in exchange for allotted time to sell your organization as a place to work and describe job openings; Volunteering to speak to a class at a university or nearby community college and mentioning that you are available for on-the-spot interviews; Developing relationships with professional resume writers who may refer qualified candidates.
7. Sharpen Your Focus on Target Populations
You can be more effective by tailoring your recruitment messaging to specific populations. Some examples: By enticing a retired or about-to-retire associate to "un-retire", work part-time, or as a consultant; Making it clear in your recruitment ads and listings that you value work experience and are interested in hiring older workers; Hiring more disabled workers to do they jobs they are able to do or could do with the right kind of accommodation; Simply asking your "most-wanted" recruits what it would take for them to seriously consider joining your workforce; Recruiting multiple college graduates from the same university who are friends with the appeal that they can maintain their friendships as co-workers.
8. Use Alternative Media
Increasingly, the population of potential recruits is segmented to the point that "narrowcasting" through alternative media and methods is the way to go. Examples include: Advertising openings on radio stations and TV programs that appeal to targeted demographic groups; Increasing the use of social media, billboards, ad spaces on buses, or movie advertising to compensate for reduced print readership among younger workers; Running a new ad with a new message in a new medium to attract targeted or under-represented demographic segments, such as specific ethnic groups.
Creating a recruiting kit with CD-ROM or thumb drive included; Hiring a bi-plane with trailing banner to fly over crowds at sporting events or other large gatherings; Posting recruitment ads on bulletin boards in places of worship, laundromats, coffee bars, apartment clubhouses, local parks, athletic clubs, university student unions, etc.; Retaining a free-lance writer to interview current enthusiastic associates and write an article for submission to a local news outlet about your workplace and the exciting opportunities available.
9. Stay in Touch with Your "Alumni"
Your former associates can be some of your most enthusiastic referral sources, particularly if you maintain contact with them. You can do this by: Starting an alumni e-letter that keeps them informed about the organization's progress and news about their former colleagues; Sending them holiday greetings; Contacting them as possible referral sources for new openings and available positions; Starting a "Boomerang Club" for associates who left and came back. (Celebrate their return by having them speak to gatherings of current associates, especially new hires, about what they missed and why they came back.)
10. Increase Accountability for Sourcing and Recruiting
Are you doing all you can to hold your hiring managers accountable for being proactive and effective recruiters? Sourcing and recruiting shouldn't just be HR's responsibility. Begin by: Evaluating all hiring managers based on "new-hire retention rates" and "quality of hire" not just "time-to-fill" and "cost-of-hire"; Doing everything in your power to get all hiring managers to "own" the sourcing and recruiting process instead of looking to HR for total accountability. All managers should consider themselves full-time talent scouts.
My hope here is that I have suggested a few sourcing and recruiting tactics that you haven't tried or fully implemented and that will resolve to try them out. As we know, there's so much more to successful hiring-writing clear job descriptions, conducting screening interviews, validating personality assessments, training managers in behavioral interviewing and so much more that is beyond the scope of this article.
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