Turn existing employees into the best recruiters in town

NicheAuthor and consultant Dr. Lynda Falkenstein is the expert behind Ask the Niche Doctor, a Vancouver Business Journal business advice column. Do you have a question for the Niche Doctor? Email drniche@vbjusa.com.

Dear Niche Doctor,

My question is a little different from those I see in your column, but it’s important to us and I hope you can help. We are a mid-size business with 75 employees. Although we could sell more products, I’m basically stuck because it’s really hard to get employees with the skills needed to do the job right. Yes, I can and do offer additional training, but I need people who can hit the ground running. I also am committed to hiring local, if possible. Any ideas will be much appreciated.

Thank you!

Your question is bigger than this short column, but I do have a tip that can help you out a lot. It’s so obvious and easy that if you’re not already implementing it, you’ll say, “Wow, why didn’t I think of that before?”

Here’s the scoop: Who knows your business environment better (or at least as well) than you? The answer is your existing employees, and chances are they all have their own social media networks. Now is the time to exploit those networks – with their help, of course. So, here’s what you do to mobilize employees into star recruiters:

  1. Consider establishing a contest or reward system for any employee referring a candidate who actually gets hired. Maybe the payment is comparable to what you’d pay a professional recruiter. Maybe it’s another reward or incentive. Most of all, it should be significant enough to energize your existing employees to get involved! Your payment might have conditions that whoever gets hired must stay for six months or meet whatever criteria you set.
  2. Encourage your employees to post the information generally, but also be very specific targeting any individuals they think might qualify or be interested in the position(s).
  3. You could prepare a “News Flash,” including the job description and all associated information. This would be easy for your employees to forward to others, while ensuring the information is accurate.

By using this simple strategy, you are basically establishing an army of potential recruiters. It’s called “Pass-along,” something long associated with the news industry. Think of it. Your doctor’s office buys a newspaper or magazine. How many people read that publication? Many newspapers were happy to have a three to five pass-along rate. Today, with simple clicks of a mouse, you can have your information forwarded to thousands. From those thousands, it’s entirely possible some potentially great candidates will wind up contacting you.

One of the best things about this entire strategy is that it has the potential to strengthen community and collegiality within your business. After all, your employees are affecting their own work environment. Even though the final decisions may be up to you or a designated hiring officer, everyone has been involved. In addition, they’ve been sufficiently rewarded in a way that will have them motivated and ready to roll the next time around.

Dr. Lynda Falkenstein is a business consultant and author of NICHECRAFT: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market, and Make Customers Seek You Out. To contact her with questions or comments, email DrNiche@vbjusa.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 503.781.0966. Please note that the Vancouver Business Journal and Dr. Niche reserve the right to publish your letter or an edited version in all print and electronic media