3 Recruiting Tactics For Unattractive Industries

Jan 14, 2020 | Recruiting | 0 comments

Almost half of the companies on Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list are tech companies. This is not by chance considering the benefits, perks and high salaries employees enjoy at these companies. Not to mention, how good it feels to say: “I work at Google” for example. 

These characteristics of the tech sector, make the industry itself a relatively attractive one for job seekers. Many want to get in, to obtain the benefits of working there. So candidates tend to be more eager to send a resume, contact the company’s recruiters and, in general, actively seek for a job at a tech company. This kind of candidate behavior makes recruiters’ life at tech organizations a bit easier. 

But what happens with less attractive industries? Take retail for example. Long hours, unstable schedules due to shifts, combined with relatively low wages, make retailers not that attractive in the eyes of candidates and employees. This is why retail & wholesale, as an industry, have an astonishing 60.5% turnover rate

Turnover is an indication of a sector’s attractiveness and, retail is definitely not an attractive sector.

Source: To Have and to Hold SHRM

Ways to Hire Talent and Overcome Sector Unattractiveness 

So, what happens if you find yourself hiring for an unattractive industry? Is there anything you can do to overcome the recruiting problem, the industry itself poses? As a matter of fact, yes, there are a few things you could do to become – against all odds – a successful and effective recruiter.

We’ll be exploring 3 recruitment strategies, that well established films have put successfully into practise to achieve a more effective recruiting: 

  1. A concept called Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
  2. The benefits of identifying and tapping into unexplored candidate pools 
  3. Training which leads to hiring.

1. Create & Communicate a Unique Value Proposition

Branding has become a huge thing in recruiting. In its core, lies value proposition, a concept used by marketers to attract and retain customers, by making it easier for them to distinguish among similar products and select the one that creates the most value.

The very same concept has been utilized by HR and recruiting professionals, who for the past several years have been fostering Employer Value Propositions (EVP) in their organizations. 

EVP translates into what it is that an employer offers, that distinguishes it from the rest, making it an employer of choice for both prospective and existing employees.

How could recruiters use this concept, when recruiting in unattractive industries? Let’s take the example of Teleperformance . Teleperformance operates in the call center industry, offering worldwide customer support services to major corporations’ customers. This requires the company to employ many native speakers, to support its operations.   And similarly to retail, the industry has a high turnover rate  (an average annual turnover rate between 30-45%), making it hard to attract candidates and fill the vacancies.

So, what did the company do about it? The operating company in Greece made an ingenious connection: people from all over the world come to Greece for vacation to enjoy the weather and the sea. As a matter of fact, many extend their stay in Greece for this reason. A temperate climate in combination with a high percentage of english speaking population and low cost of living, are factors not all countries have to the same extent as Greece, so it’s undeniably valuable and a potential comparative advantage. 

So, the very same people that come every year as tourists, could become an  ideal candidate pool for Teleperformance, considering that the company aims to attract native speakers from different countries to staff its call centers in Greece

This realization led to the development of the Employer Value Proposition seen below:

2. Tap in an Unutilized Candidate Pool

Recruiting, as a practice, has many standards. To attract candidates, recruiters usually publish a job opening and then screen the resumes of candidates that have applied. Both the means of communicating the vacancy and the way recruiting professionals screen resumes are done in a way that excludes many candidates. Some candidates may not have access to the internet to apply in the first place and others may have a background, which may lead to biases and faulty assumptions about the candidate.

But if the growth and success of a business are jeopardized by recruiting’s inability to find and assess candidates in an effective and unbiased way, then some new tactics should be explored.

IKEA has emerged as a real champion in this kind of recruiting revamp. The retailer identified a group of people that very few employers would consider employable and decided to give them a career opportunity. This group of people was refugees and the company through the course of the past few years has  successfully tapped in this unexplored candidate pool, providing it with meaningful job opportunities. This resulted in easier position filling and in undeniable positive social impact, as people that are generally considered unfitting for various reasons, are given a chance in employment. 

Of course, this is not a stand-alone recruiting initiative that aims at filling various in-store vacancies. This program is deeply connected to IKEA’s vision to become an even more “diverse and inclusive work environment where individual differences are celebrated”, which is what makes it so successful. 

To take advantage of this tactic, you should really reimagine recruiting. Forget about all the traditional, unjustified standards and most importantly about what your competitors do. This will free your imagination and create the right mindset to start exploring untapped candidate pools and selecting the one that best fits your business needs.

3. Train & Hire Approach

Sometimes an industry may seem unattractive to candidates because of the technical requirements of certain positions. The position of Industrial Maintenance Technician at Frito Lay, for example, requires a specialized two-year degree, which very few possess, making it hard for the company to fill the position.

This challenge led to the creation of Frito-Lay’s apprenticeship program:

“Students who participate in the program receive elective high school and college credits for basic engineering and maintenance skills that will prepare them for entry-level employment in manufacturing roles upon graduation. As a result, Frito-Lay has identified several successful hires.” as Patrick McLaughlin, SVP, CHRO for Frito-Lay told HR Dive, SVP, CHRO for Frito-Lay told HR Dive.

This last suggested tactic requires a synergy of HR subfunctions. Recruiting must work closely with Learning and Development, in order to satisfy the demand for certain organizational roles.  Josh Bersin, a global HR Analyst and Influencer on HR topics, analyzes this approach beautifully in the highly recommended report: “RETHINKING THE BUILD vs BUY APPROACH TO TALENT”.

While the report focuses on the tech industry and the difficulty to find skilled candidates, which can be overcome through training, its principles can be transferred to other industries as well. According to Bersin:

“skill gaps you see today can often be filled with traditional training solutions. […]  Not only do such intensive, internal training initiatives work, they create an incredible boost in employee engagement and loyalty.”

So, if you don’t have enough qualified candidates for your business and you need to ensure its survival, you should take some long-term commitments when it comes to recruiting, by joining forces with L&D professionals. It may be more costly, but sometimes it is vital for the business. 

Recruiting is a tough business and in some cases, it’s extra hard. These extra hard cases require unconventional recruitment tactics. To identify and deploy them, recruiting professionals should be brave, creative and well informed. Well informed to know what is practiced by other organizations, creative to adjust it to their business needs and brave in order to try something that might not have been tried before.


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