The search for good employees is a lot like dating. The pool of applicants is huge, and it can seem impossible to tell the ones you’d like to introduce to your parents from the ones that’ll leave you lying on the couch watching Love Actually and sobbing into your morning vodka. With so many job-seekers (especially in a global field of potential remote employees), how can you sift through the crowd to find the people who will help your business reach its potential?
The key is to establish the image, culture and “personality” of your business as clearly as possible, so that only those who would make a good match for you and your operation will be likely to apply. Rather than trying to seek out and hire the “best” in the field, it’s better to broadcast what your company is about in a way that attracts the right people for your business. As in love, the best policy is to be yourself. Put your company’s individual character on display, and let it reel in the most compatible.
Putting Culture First
Even if you’re not hiring yet, it’s important to lay the groundwork for finding employees in an efficient way. From my own experience, I can tell you that turnover is one of the biggest wastes of resources in business. Hiring, firing, and sifting through legions of applicants’ costs time and money. When businesses don’t take the necessary steps to attract the right applicants in the first place, it’s rarely well spent. That’s why it’s best to be proactive.
Here at Business Republic, we’ve managed to assemble a fantastic team that we believe will do more than just show up and work. By wearing our particular culture on our sleeve, we’ve attracted people whose commitment goes beyond their paycheck. It might sound a little idealistic, but experience has proven that people want to work somewhere that they like just as badly as they want certain salaries and benefits.
Of course pay, benefits, vacation time, and all the other rewards of a given job are going to factor heavily in who your business attracts, but neglecting culture and climate is the surest way to attract people who only care about those things. This is limiting. Get the culture right, and employees who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to come your way. That’s not to suggest that there’s a standard “right” or “wrong” culture; each business’s is different. The trick is to attract people who will thrive in yours.
With clear cultural expectations in place, employees are more likely to fit in with your existing staff and add to a powerful team dynamic. People may be content at a job that pays the bills, but they’re happiest when they’re legitimately excited about what they do every day. While content employees might simply work, happy employees care. By applying for a position at least partially because they believe in a certain vision, rooted in culture, employees are making a statement. They don’t just want to make a living. They want to help build something they see as meaningful.
Drawing Applicants In
The first step in broadcasting your culture (for hiring purposes) is to build a proper Careers page. Whether you’re hiring yet or not, your business website should include a page devoted to the experience of working for you. This is potential applicants’ first introduction to your company’s character. What does working for you mean? What does it look like? Use this page to try to give applicants a sense of what the experience is, or at least what you want it to be.
On the page, have a direct, bold headline that sums up your company’s vibe. For example, the Careers page of our webinar company, Webinar Ninja, starts with a simple declaration: “Driven, passionate professionals love working here!” We don’t start by touting the pay or the benefits; we start by identifying exactly who we think will jell with our team.
We also don’t start by identifying any particular skill set, level of education, or other indicator of previous achievement. Instead, we focus on attitude. Our most important qualifications are drive, passion and professionalism. If an applicant doesn’t have that, it doesn’t matter if they hold three doctorates and a recommendation letter from the President- it’s the attitude that counts, and the attitude we ultimately hire for. Skills can be trained. Experience can be gained. Our business culture focuses primarily on enthusiasm, and that’s the first thing we want applicants to know.
The banner over our benefits section further affirms our driven but fun culture: “Working at Webinar Ninja ROCKS!” We then show the applicants why. Six graphic representations of what makes Webinar Ninja such a great place to work, followed by brief descriptions, entice the applicant (or at least the type of applicant we’re looking for). Of the six, only one of the benefits is monetary. While we’re clear about offering competitive pay and bonuses, the vast majority of the page is devoted to what’s inherently enjoyableabout the way we do business, and what matters to us in terms of outlook.
For example, we highlight our commitment to training and development. “We invest in our teammates” isn’t just a slogan. It’s a statement of principle. We don’t see employment simply as a transaction (work for money), we see it as a symbiotic relationship (helping our business grow and evolve for helping our employees grow and evolve). The employee gets more than just pay, and we get more than just work.
In another of the benefits, we tout our idea of what makes a dynamic team. “We believe talented people can be found anywhere in the world.” We highlight our remote team, stretching from California to India to the Philippines, and our commitment to diversity. Those who like the idea of coming together with people from all over the globe on a shared mission know that our company is the place to do it. Those who prefer monoculture need not apply.
Already, before they’ve scrolled halfway down the page, we’re filtering for the kind of enthusiastic, progressive go-getters that want to be “part of something special.”
Using Your Own Employees
Attracting and hiring people in a culture-based way can have a multiplier effect. By encouraging a certain kind of team dynamic based on attitude and outlook, you’re likely to hire people who will bring in more good candidates.
People who thrive at your business probably have others in their network with a similar approach to their work. With your own team’s recommendations, you may not have to search very hard for great candidates. Ultimately, your company’s reputation as a great place to work for a certain sort will become a beacon that attracts all the candidates you’ll ever need, without your having to solicit applications. You can also encourage this to happen with rewards, like our “Rock Star Recruitment” policy at Webinar Ninja, which offers bonuses for bringing in new hires that end up staying.
As they say, business is about relationships. I believe that’s not limited to the ones you have with clients, but extends to your team. Building a great team requires truly thinking of it as a team, and of your business as a group endeavor in which everyone’s role is vital. If you can create a culture of appreciation that makes your employees feel valued, it will pay off both in productivity and in the quality of applicants you attract.