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A Muumuu May Be One-Size-Fits-All, But Effective Recruitment Isn't-Part 3

So we now know about our market, great.  What do we want to tell them?  Wonderful lies to lure them right?  Wrong!!!.  Truth, is always better than fiction.  Think long term.  Are your recruiting messages and tactics part of the reason for quick turnover; less than one year?  Do they feel they were “sold a bill of goods”?  Filling jobs is important.  How much pressure are you under to fill fast, not best.  Do you even have a way to measure best except for hindsight?  (You can you know…it can be scientifically done and is way cool.)   If you lose one staff RN, costing studies show that you just lost 50k.  A specialty nurse is more in the 60-70k range.  Though there is such thing as good turnover, there is no such thing as cheap turnover.

When does most of your turnover happen?  During the first year of employment, after a leadership change? (especially if you hire the wrong leader) Would different recruitment and selection systems have an effect on these?  ßReinforcing the value of all of this stuff as more than rhetoric.

Though we talked about your “Market” last time, the one thing I didn’t do was get specific to your “target market”, that subset of the total market you want to reach.  (So cut this section and paste it to the end of Part II if it is out of place and makes you feel better.)  People are either employed or unemployed.  The exception to this are new graduates you seek for entry-level positions.  Aside from new grads, your ideal target market can usually be defined as those who are actively, successfully employed today….A-players: those who, if the right opportunity found them, would be open to exploring it.  Guess what, this is the best group of candidates, yet the most elusive and toughest to reach.   What is their value?  You don’t get these people?

Who do YOU want? There are three levels of job seekers/fish.

  • Active job seeker/fish.  They are hungry and hook hunting.  You should really scrutinize these when you catch them: wonder why the last fisherman threw them back in.  Fishing skills are at a minimum, it is more fish vs. fisherman dependent.

  • Passive job seeker/fish.  Choosy eater, cautious, but still looking for a meal.  They may find you, you may find them.  Requires a fair amount of scrutiny when you catch them: were they hungry, or were you a good fisherman?  (I won’t use this space to argue the concept of “passive job seeker”.  It has been fad-du-jour label that is actually an oxymoron.)

  • Non-seeking but open person/fish.  This is the trophy trout that hangs out in the shadows, you have to be much more masterful; first in finding them, then catching them.  No doubt when you catch once of these, you are a true fisherman.  They don’t bite many hooks, are very scrutinous. You don’t just fool these fish, but once they bite, they are committed.  The choice, presentation, and interaction of the bait is everything.


So what kind of fisherman are you?

So what do you choose to tell this market, what is your bait, your message?

The key to your message is this:  Think about and seek to understand human nature!  Pause momentarily and really reflect on that.  Understand human nature.  Remember you have MMM: multi-facetted, multiple markets.  You have to step into the shoes/sociology/psychology of the norms of the group you want to recruit.  How much thought have you historically put into this vs. just tossing an ad in a paper with a blitz of information?

Assuming you at least conceptually do want A-players, characterize them:

(That may sound crass…but you have to understand, I’ve watched for 20 years the unreinforced lip service to this.  I’ve earned the right to call that spade a spade.)

First ask:  Why do people who are currently employed make changes, or new graduates with choices choose an organization and opportunity?  (Yes that is an infinite list, but let’s sticks to norms)

  • It’s typically not compensation and basic benefits.  You know you have to be competitive with this within your market.  It may be what cognitively hooks the fish(head), but not what will initially attract them. As much as some organizations try, you can’t buy loyalty, good feelings (heart).  (There will be another time we can dive much deeper into the head vs. heart of organizations…more cool stuff.)

  • #1 Culture of the organization.  Culture is very broad, so look at these dynamics:

    • Assessment:  Do individuals sense they are important?  Is it a positive environment? What is the organization’s reputation in the community, region, nation?

    • Flexibility:  shows up in shifts and flex-time, etc.

    • Support:  education reimbursement, childcare facilities, clinical/professional education support, etc.

    • Leadership tenure, training and development:  Experience and style of their immediate boss.  #1 reason for turnover is this relationship.  It only stands to reason that this would then also be a primary reason for retention. (Actually, it is that person, coupled with a sense of community within a peer group.)


Aside:  This is a good place to tie in retention. If you look at the two broad factors above, comp & benefits and culture, these are not only key recruitment factors, but are also the two keys to retention.  Just as is the case here, culture and its multiple facets is the more important.  Though people realize this at a certain level, they seem to work harder to keep everyone vs. getting the right everyone to keep.  (Wrapping your head around this is your mental yoga for the day.)

  • Geography:  You don’t get a lot of opportunity to change this, but you can highlight it.

    • Is it closer to home, less of a commute?

    • Is this where someone is from, family?

    • Is this somewhere that offers a higher quality of life?

    • Cost of living?

    • Are there better schools and social setting for our family or for single people?

    • Career opportunities for spouses?

    • Climate.  (Don’t market in Florida for positions in Michigan.  However, how many people in Michigan don’t want to spend next winter there again and want to move somewhere warmer?)


Bonus aside:  This is a weird phenomenon (or you can call it psycho-babble if you want), but I have found it to be true:  People are more likely to relocate to another state than they are within the same state.  Almost inexplicable, but if a relocation is involved, not a commute, I have found that it is easier to move someone 300 miles away to another state than 50 miles to another city in the same state.  Try getting someone to move to Dallas from Fort Worth.  They would move to Oklahoma City first. I think there is this weird sense of intra-state rivalry that goes on too.  What do you think people in St. Louis and Kansas City think of each other?  Dallas vs. Houston?  LA vs. San Francisco? Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh?  Orlando vs. Tampa?  Memphis vs. Nashville?


Psychological side bar: How much of your message’s content do you frame based on cognitive information?  Do you believe that is where people most make career decisions from?  I would contend they will look for the cognitive information to assure that it is there, check the boxes, then the emotional side kicks in:  “How does this make me feel?”

Let’s make a distinction here:  What it is that interests someone in exploring an opportunity vs. why someone crosses the finish line and accepts a new position.  Cognitive vs. Emotional.  I believe that the enticement (message) needs to be more emotional.  People will look for the cognitive information, but are moved to explore based on emotions.  Think, what is the range of differences between your organization’s comp & benefits vs. everyone else’s.  Not much.  Do recruiters you know “get” this?

What is the goal of your message?  It is this:  to entice an interaction.  You want to get the fish to take a close enough look at your bait in order to engage in an interaction, an opportunity to listen and sell.  Thus, the more complete and interactive your message, the better.  But that jumps into the choices and limitations of mediums.  We’ll get to that next time.

Think about both emotions and creativity when framing your message.  Careful though, if you are saying the same things as everyone else, you are no longer different.  Be aware of the competition’s messages.  How bold are you? What is the value of shock value?  I’m not advocating anything on the Dennis Rodman level.  For instance:

“We don’t want you to work here!” Unless you are truly a cut above, we don’t want you.  We have a dynamic and special environment.  Every day, with everyone, we are working to make it even better.  If you can add to it, help us be better tomorrow with you than we were yesterday without you, we want the opportunity to share ourselves with you.

Did you get the “share ourselves with you”?   That was the kicker of emotional grab.  Psychologically, you create a scarcity mentality: that everyone isn’t good enough.  Everyone sees themselves as the exception.  In sales it is called a “take away”.  Pull back, don’t chase, and they will chase you.  Secondary psychology:  This is an environment that cares about and protects its people:  psychological security. “Give me security, make me feel special, who cares what you are paying me.”  If you are truly creating this environment, you won’t loose people for another ½ hour across town.  This isn’t meant to be a clinic on writing ads, but do you see the psychology that can come from your message?

Think for a minute of two headlines:  “5K sign-on bonus” vs. “We don’t want you to work here”.  Which are you more likely to keep reading?  $5,000 is a lot of money, but does it create curiosity?  Never underestimate the power of the mind and how strong emotions can both drive and cloud the cognitive.  There are a hundred ways this shows up every day in our personal lives, in consumer behavior, etc.  It applies here too.

You have an ace up your sleeve now that you didn’t always have, one that creates an almost endless message opportunity, your website.  With most people having access to the internet, thus to your website, I will make the assumption that your url is always communicated in any message you send, regardless of the medium.  If you don’t have an attractive website that communicates who you are, gives a sense of culture not just information, you are self-defeating and not competitive.  With any new technology, (fax machine email, or cell phone); originally, it is a neat thing that some have, but becomes a standard, an expectation.  You need information that covers the cognitive, but also evokes and stimulates the emotional.  It is a later discussion as to what you really should or should not expect to get from your website or internet based recruiting.  Needless to say, I don’t go with the flow on that one.

I’m going to cut this one off here.  Next we get into the M#3, Medium.  Message issues will be interlaced here; your medium can make the message very limited or unlimited, rigid or interactive.  Medium is also where the most mistakes are made.  You can really have a great message, know whom you want it to get to, but it never reach it if you don’t understand what you are doing with mediums.  Don’t miss this next posting “Medium Madness.”

Choose to make it a great day!

Don Rottman

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