An old school approach to recruiting

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John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

The circumstances we have today with the difficulty of hiring people reminds me of a time back in the middle 70s.

At the time, I was in my early 20s and working as a store manager at Tip Top Tailors in Calgary.

You can watch the video to hear the story – or scroll down to read the text.

To give you a bit of context, in those days, Calgary was experiencing one of its many oil booms.

During that decade, the city grew from about 100,000 people to 500,000.

The problem for us was that people were coming to work in the oil business; nobody was coming to work in retail.

Part of my job at the time was to take a pro-active approach to recruitment. Which meant walking through the mall and identifying the best salespeople who weren’t working for me. (Yet 😉 )

Then, I would build relationships with them. Casually, over coffee or lunch.

This way, when I had a position to fill, I had a bench of people to go to. I could ask them “hey…we’re looking for someone – do you know anyone?” while secretly hoping that they would step up themselves.

One of the big mistakes I see business owners making is that they only recruit when there’s a need.

This creates an emergency where they need to fill that role right away and they have no potential candidates waiting in the wings to draw from.

Small business owners need to look at recruiting through a different lens.

If you look back to the last recession in 2008, 2009, 2010 it was very difficult to find clients and customers. Business owners put a LOT of time, effort, money into sales and marketing initiatives.

Because there were a lot of people out of work, finding employees was easy back then.

Today, the reverse is true.

It’s relatively easy to get customers. We only need to put maybe 1/10th of the effort into sales and marketing.

I have clients who have customers banging down the door, but they lack the personnel to serve them.

What I suggest to my clients is that they approach recruiting in the same way they might have approached getting customers back in 2008.

In other words, applying sales and marketing techniques to recruiting.

It’s no longer enough to simply post a job opening on Indeed or Craigslist.

This is what McDonald’s is doing:

mcdonalds hiring search

Would you like a free iphone with that?

We need to have 10 lines in the sea. 10 different strategies for recruiting.

Here are a few to consider:

  • Posting on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms
  • Asking present customers, past customers, present employees, and past employees if they know anyone
  • Hiring a recruiter to develop a bench for us – like I did back in the 70s working for Tip Top

It also means thinking creatively.

In British Columbia, there are 200 vacant physiotherapy jobs at the moment.

My hunch is that there are a lot of people who live in Winnipeg or other parts of Canada who would love to live in BC because the lifestyle is better.

What might happen if you hired a recruiter to find these people and initiate some conversations?

What if you did this on an ongoing basis instead of only when you have a staffing crisis?

What if you had a bench of people vying for the opportunity to work for you?

If that all sounds good, what’s stopping you from implementing these ideas?

If you feel stuck about where to start or you’d like some tools or support to implement a recruiting program, book 15 minutes on my calendar to talk about business coaching: book a call with John

The Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Business

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How to grow your business without sacrificing time freedom

This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Business. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you:

  • Develop systems and processes to free up your time
  • Hire and manage a great team to run your business (mostly) without you
  • Make the mindset changes that enable you to grow your business bigger - faster than you dreamed possible