War on Talent

Unemployment is way down and hiring is way up across just about all industries. This is definitely true in the leisure and hospitality industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this industry added 368,000 new jobs between November 2014 and November 2015.
In a market this hot, recruitment-as-usual will not work to bring “A” players to your team. Not only do you need to track them down, but once you find them, you also need to court them. If effect, you should apply the same approach to recruitment that you do to sales and marketing: identify your targets, craft a compelling value proposition and then be persistent in connecting with them.

A good first step is to ensure alignment of several factors: timing, branding, messaging, fit, appeal, location and compensation. For example, if you are looking for a cruise ship activity director during the busiest summer months, you can assume the best people are already employed. Your messaging must center on strong selling points – why would someone leave the job they have now to come work for you?
Understand the supply versus demand of the talent market and be flexible with job requirements. CareerBuilder and Wanted Analytics both offer supply versus demand tools.
Now, hit the market with an “instant crescendo” of searching, sourcing and networking. Find out where the candidates are and hit those sources hard. It may be niche boards or social media, or you may need to cold call individuals based on a list of competitors. Most likely you will use a combination of tactics.
For sourcing, mainstream sites like Monster, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn are always good places to start. For management roles, try TheLadders.com, but do not just “post and pray.” Proactively search the résumé databases. Dig deeper by networking with professional associations or technical schools that match the skill set you are seeking.

Here are some industry-specific sites for hospitality:

Other tactics include employee referral plans with incentives and showing up wherever potential candidates might be. You should set up at job fairs and even your trade show booths should include recruitment collateral. “Tabletop” marketing is ideal for this industry, as you can place recruitment information in hotel rooms, at check-in desks and (of course) on tabletops.
You also should have a compelling career portal on your website. Promote your culture and highlight professional development opportunities. Include pictures of actual employees at work to help candidates picture themselves at your workplace.
You can even include pictures of employees at community service or teambuilding events.
Keep in mind, however, that your career portal is just drifting in cyberspace until people find it. Proactively drive traffic to it using email blasts, banner ads and search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Get help from your marketing team if necessary.
Another tactic is to have your internal subject matter experts post in blogs and online forums frequented by the kinds of candidates you need. The posts should include ideas and best practices for the profession, rather than simply saying that it is great to work for your company. That way you increase your employment brand’s profile. The war for talent will not cool off for some time. The winners will be employers who take initiative in selling open positions as opportunities and courting candidates the same way they court potential clients.

Kim Shepherd joined Decision Toolbox, a virtual organization providing recruitment solutions, in 2000 as CEO. Today, she leads the company’s growth strategy, primarily through developing partnerships and alliances, and as an active member of the Los Angeles and Orange County human resources communities. Shepherd can be reached at kshepherd@dtoolbox.com.


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