There are several things distributors can do internally to improve recruitment efforts, including reexamining company branding and internal marketing, and incorporating the business’s market stance into the interview and recruiting process.
For distributors, the recruitment process is a task that sometimes takes a back seat to other pressing day-to-day sales and operational issues. However, there are a number of things that a distributor can do to make recruitment a part of their every day activity. Some of these items, when done once, can repeat themselves over and over without consuming further time.
Let’s start with organizational review. Most distributors are faced with the challenge of having an aging workforce and not enough strength on the bench as far as employees who are trained and ready to advance in the organization. Recruitment is a two-way street. At its heart is the fact that your organization has to be an attractive destination for candidates. It has to be more advantageous for them to work for you than for your competitor.
Building Your Bench
At GRN Coastal, we have studied the college recruitment process in depth, applying an activity-based costing model. The results are interesting. We believe that organizations need an influx of youth to bring new energy and ideas, balanced with experienced and seasoned mid- to senior-level talent that can drive results. Our study shows that the costs associated with attending job fairs and taking core people out of their daily tasks to do so doesn’t outweigh having a consistent resource working the college hire process for you.
Some distributors have begun to outsource this functionality. In an industry-wide, independently run survey we conducted last year in conjunction with The Channel Marketing Group out of Raleigh North Carolina, more than 60% of respondents said they would outsource their entire college hiring program for the right solution.
Now is the time for distribution to take college hiring seriously. This is a major area of opportunity to gain balance and build strength for the future. Right now, only 43% of respondents recruit on campus. Companies are typically represented by HR, young employees or branch managers. Many go for community/university relations, visibility and to collect resumes.
Only 23% have formal college training programs, while 47% have some form of an internship program. A potential indicator of “friends and family” internships: 57% of new hire programs are run by management or “in-the-field.”
On the other hand, a different approach to reaching the college hire audience is depicted by a client of ours in the Northeast. The principal of the company is a board member of a technology-focused university. He gets the opportunity to address upcoming graduates on a career in electrical distribution yearly and his team is a visible participant in all of the institution’s college fairs. By getting to know the university and being visible, his business has a fine track record of recruiting and retaining college talent.
Our industry has the opportunity to really examine new ideas and solutions to take advantage of securing top college talent. Seize it, as this is your foundation for future growth and stability and can make your company a destination of choice for all levels of talent.
Building Your Brand in the Recruitment Process
The opportunity to become a destination of choice means that your organization should begin to look at the recruitment process as a two-way street. Just as you are evaluating any candidate when they walk into your building, they are also trying to visualize if they will fit and find your organization attractive.
Just as many companies today give candidates an assessment test, how would your company score in areas of workforce environment, culture, advancement opportunity, pay and benefits?
We encourage our clients to sell themselves to top talent. Your recruiter can only sell the opportunity to an extent, the candidate will end up working with you, not us, thus your team has to sell the virtues of your organization as well.
Best practices we have seen include:
- Send a potential candidate a pre-interview company overview and welcome email upon receipt of resume;
- Show a candidate a company video upon entry, pre interview;
- Have a recruitment package that includes a job spec, company literature and benefits summary for all candidates;
- Give the candidate a tour of the facility, matching them up with someone from their potential department with a similar profile;
- If appropriate, match up candidates with employee(s) of similar career stage and function for a group lunch to discuss the company freely, this can be done in house;
- Send candidates a post-interview survey and thank you (remember they are leaving their job and taking time off to visit you);
- Quickly reply to every candidate follow-up email.
These best practices become the fabric of who you are. They leave a lasting impression on candidates and create an image that becomes your brand in the market. Just as you are trying to create a ‘great customer experience” by delivering great service to your customers, create a great recruitment experience for each candidate.
Take a distributor client of ours in Texas: They always have the candidate sit with their team to get to know each other during the interview. It is the candidate’s opportunity to get to know the company culture and what it is truly like to work there without the hiring manager present.
This is done in a casual setting over coffee or lunch. This level of exposure takes the edge off the interview process and brings the company and opportunity to life. They are typically grouped with people with similar roles or same level of experience. Business contacts are always exchanged and post-interview questions encouraged.
Source: GRN Coastal/ The Channel Marketing Group Survey 2018
Build Your Brand Internally
Building your brand internally also attracts top talent on its own, as your employees will become a marketing vehicle to help attract new hires. When an outsider asks your employee what it is like to work for your organization, what does the employee say? We see the best distributors really focusing on this.
Per our survey in Figure 1, we see internally focused activities and communication tools as a concrete effort to make employees feel appreciated, informed and wanted. These distributor activities make employees feel that their organization care as about them and their future with the business.
Build Your Reputation
We find that clients who put in place these simple steps become known as a destination of choice. The ingredients of having a strong vendor portfolio and customer presence are important factors to attract top talent. No candidate will want to work for a company that they feel has inferior product and customer preference. At a minimum, top talent will not gravitate to you if this is the case. With these factors being equal, it comes down to how you handle the recruitment process and how you create a great recruitment experience for each candidate. Your recruitment process wins the battle for top talent and makes you the destination of choice.
Salvadore has been in the distribution industry for more than 30 years. He is the founder and managing partner of GRN Coastal, a full-service recruitment company that assists distributors and manufacturers in the electrical, automation, plumbing, PVF, HVAC and industrial supply sectors. Reach him at email@example.com or through grncoastalrecruiters.com.
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