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In a Recruiting Rut? Here are 4 Ways to Climb Out of It

In Hiring Strategy — by Erin Engstrom

recruiting rut

Ruts, funks, dry spells, slow seasons… whatever you want to call them, they happen to the best of us.

Maybe you’re going through a time of organizational change and it’s a tough adjustment. Maybe you lack access to resources you once had due to economic circumstances. Maybe there’s a family health crisis. Maybe the weather weather has you down.

Whatever the forces at play, sometimes even talent management pros need are in need of some talent management.

If you find yourself in a recruiting rut, here are four ways to try climbing out of it.

1. Connect with a technical bootcamp

There are dozens of technical bootcamps that teach skills like web development, design, product management, digital marketing, and data analytics. These courses are filled with students who either aspire to get a new job at the end of the course, or become better at the job they already have. What employer isn’t interested in self-starters who are actively trying to gain new skills?

As Marc Prosser, co-founder of Fit Small Business, was looking to hire a digital marketer, he began to establish relationships with teachers at General Assembly. “These professional schools tend to crop up to satisfy a demand in the job market,” he says. “Going straight to them can be a great way to meet your demand for those positions.”

Last year, I was planning to make a move and knew that I’d have to find a new job as a result. So I attended the eight-week technical marketing course at Startup Institute. My classmates were some of the most intelligent, accomplished people I’ve ever met, among them an Oxford MBA and a former energy lobbyist from D.C.

Other technical bootcamps to check out are App Academy, Dev Bootcamp, Galvanize, Hackbright Academy, The Iron Yard, Tech Talent South and Turing School of Software & Design.

Such bootcamps are located all over the world, and not just in big cities. But even if there isn’t a bootcamp in your town, it’s still worth connecting with one. Many offer online-only courses, which means their students will be located all over the globe. And there are bound to be many students like myself, who enroll with an eye on relocating once the course is over.

2. Sponsor a networking event

Networking events are a great way for you to connect with a lot of candidates at one time. Research upcoming business happy hours, chamber of commerce socials and professional association events, and reach out to the organizers and ask about sponsorship opportunities.

“Sponsorship can be the price of pizza and soda, or paper plates and plastic silverware,” says Dirk Spencer, a corporate recruiter and the author of Resume Psychology. “It might be providing a door prize to give to attendees (iTunes and Amazon gift cards are popular).”

For as little as $50, you’ll get increased exposure in email blasts, signage and social media activity. Knowing that your company will be at the event and that you’re actively hiring, attendees will likely keep an eye out and make a beeline once they see you.

3. Find your own Cheers and enlist help

Back when Derek Zeller, now a recruiting lead with Microsoft, was an agency recruiter, he spent a lot of time recruiting Intel employees for one of his clients. So he scouted the bars and restaurants around the Intel campus, and figured out where workers spent their happy hours. What turned into an occasional pint of Guinness turned into a regular engagement.

At first he tried engaging directly with the Intel employees and contractors he came across (they were wearing name badges so they weren’t hard to identity). As a complete stranger, though, he generally got a wary reception.

So he turned to someone else, someone all the patrons of the bar knew and liked: the bartender. In the process of becoming a regular at the bar, Derek had made friends with the bartender, Lilly, as had many of the other regulars.

That adage about bartenders lending a shoulder to cry on? Turns out it’s true. Many of the regulars came in and routinely complained about their jobs to Lilly. Derek picked up on this and asked Lilly if she’d be willing to offer his business card to anyone who whined about how miserable they were at work. If any of those people got hired, she’d get a referral bonus of $500.

After a month, his client had hired seven people from Intel that Lilly had referred. And Lilly got $3,500. Talk about a win-win-win situation.

[Tweet “Referred candidates are 3-4 times more likely to be hired than non-referred candidates.”]

4. Implement (or refine) an employee referral program

Speaking of referrals, the benefits of an employee referral program are hard to underestimate.

  • The average retention rate for referred hires after one year is 46 percent, compared to a 33 percent retention rate among career sites hires and a 22 percent retention rate among job board hires.
  • Referred candidates are three to four times more likely to be hired than non-referred candidates.
  • Referred hires start their jobs on average after 29 days, compared to 39 days for job board hires and 55 days for career site hires.

Moreover, having an employee referral program in place can be a draw in and of itself to candidates. Millennials’ average job tenure is 3.2 years, less than a third that of their baby boomer counterparts. Younger workers are more like to think in terms of career security, rather than job security, and they understand the importance of a robust professional network.

“It’s really attractive to young, networking-savvy employees if you encourage them and enable them to develop their network,” says Ben Casnocha, author of The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age. “Enabling that is one of the greatest perks you can offer them.”

[Tweet “Millennials’ average job tenure is 3.2 years, less than a third of that of baby boomers.”]

If your recruitment efforts just aren’t yielding the type of hires that they used to, don’t beat yourself up about it, and don’t let it defeat you. Now’s the time to push the envelope and add some new tactics to your recruiting playbook. Sometimes it’s as easy as bellying up to the bar.

photo: Jason Ralston

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