Recruiting for an Organization in a Niche Market
Recruitment and talent management initiatives are obviously affected by the size of an organization. Larger companies typically have more expendable income when it comes to all the things that attract and retain employees, while smaller companies may have more flexibility in their decisions, but a smaller budget and/or less opportunities for growth. Sound about right? Add in the strain of hiring in a niche market for a company or industry that candidates likely have never heard of. How does that affect the overall ability to hire?
Sourcing candidates for companies that live in a space that people aren’t familiar with can be extremely difficult. You haven’t built a reputation with the potential candidate. You have to educate them on who you are, what you stand for, and what your five year plan looks like. Compound this initiative with a smaller talent pool if you are searching for candidates with a specific skill set that may be necessary for your industry.
Say you are a recruiter for a steel form manufacturing company. Unless your candidates have worked for a competitor or have been on a construction site, they more than likely have never heard of or dealt with a company in this field. Even if your organization is one of the best, if not the best, in your field, candidates will never see you as a top company to work for if they know nothing about you. What can be done to increase exposure and better source candidates for these unique situations?
Start with local schools. Even if you don’t hire recent college graduates very often, networking with local schools will help educate students on your company and encourage them to consider your organization in the future. Work with professors to sign up for speaking engagements in classes related to your company or industry. Attend career fairs and pass out information and cards that include your website, career page, and social media links. College kids love freebies – offer trinkets that include your website that may make it into some sort of campus rotation, like pens, t-shirts, koozies, etc.
Get knowledgeable. If you are recruiting for an organization, you obviously need to know a lot about the company, their culture, what they look for, etc. But in niche markets, it is even more important to become an expert for that industry. Learn how to explain your organization’s placement in the “grand scheme.” Educate yourself on competitors. Research niche job boards, associations, and related sites. While you’re on those niche sites, post your open jobs.
Network, network, network. Networking is critical. Know who works in similar roles for your competition. Keep in touch with any high performers that leave your organization. Seek out referrals from current and former employees. Pay attention to competitors or companies within your industry for layoffs or closings. Just be aware and connect.
Test. This is probably an obvious one, but for organizations in niche markets, especially if products or processes are highly technical, up-front testing for employees should be required. Training for a similar position at other organizations can be doubled or even tripled for companies dealing with a niche industry or highly technical products. It is more than frustrating (and a waste of money) to hire a seemingly qualified person and put them through the extensive training that is required, only to find out they cannot grasp the basic understanding of what your company does and how they do it, an understanding necessary for every position within the organization. Intelligence or other types of pre-employment testing can help eliminate the pitfalls of hiring someone that won’t make it past the first six months.
There are many other ways to penetrate the candidate pools for unique hiring situations (please share your experiences in the comment section below). It may be more difficult, but once networks are established, it will get easier. Getting your name out there in any way possible is the first step.