Retail Giants Are Shifting America’s Economy, Meet the Recruiting Tactics Shaping Their Impact

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Retail giants are using automation to get rid of jobs!

Headlines like this sell magazines and newspapers, but they’re incredibly misleading. Companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart are creating so many jobs in smaller towns all over the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the number of warehouse and storage-sector jobs had risen roughly 3.9% year-over-year, to a preliminary count of 948,500. Recent stories from various cities have chambers of commerce vying for the chance to become the location of the next warehouse.

In fact, warehouse jobs pay about 31% more than retail jobs in the same county, and are more likely to hire black and Hispanic workers, according to the Progressive Policy Institute.

Far from decimating the workforce in small towns and semi-rural locations, Amazon, Staples and their counterparts employ 1.2 million workers in warehouses and other establishments. From 2010 to 2016, employment grew by 372,000 additional workers, a 48% increase. Compare that to all private industries’ cumulative 12% during the same time period.

Anyone who works in high-volume recruiting or medical staffing knows it is not easy to find hordes of qualified workers to support an economic shift. Job boards changed the game for many in recruiting–not to mention job seekers–in the late 1990s. Despite the onset of mass aggregation and performance-based job advertising, the job advertising business remains mostly unchanged. However, we are currently seeing a shift in recruiting once more, spurred in part by these retail behemoths. Leading companies are taking a holistic look at recruiting and developing recruitment marketing strategies that use multiple tactics, some old some new, to surround job seekers with their message as well as spur them to engage.

What sorts of tactics are becoming part of the recruiting mix to help companies hire better and faster? Companies in the space are stepping up to the challenge of finding innovative ways to attract and retain workers at companies like Amazon.

What unique hurdles do warehouse and fulfillment recruiters face?

First, let’s address the unique challenges that face recruiters when a new warehouse opens in a city. While the effects on the location and the workers themselves are often discussed in the news, we rarely hear about how talent acquisition pros work to staff these locations where the population levels and supporting services may be non-existent. Issues like:

  • Poor or no public transportation. While white collar companies like Google often bus in workers who don’t want to deal with a commute, it’s rare for non-white collar workers to be extended anything similar.
  • Low-income population. Retailers often rely on pay alone to attract workers, but when a competitor also raises wages, they may face turnover issues.
  • Unwilling workforce. Many states’ minimum wages do not cover living expenses in addition to child care, transportation and other considerations a low-income population may have to factor in when looking for a new job.
  • Competing for a smaller pool of candidates. Fulfillment centers are often built in rural areas where land is cheap, but there are not enough available or interested job seekers to fill the positions.
  • Geographic requirements don’t always line up with the population
  • More difficult than typical retail work. Working in a warehouse tends to be more labor-intensive than customer-facing roles, which can make retail jobs appealing.
  • Lack of brand. Warehouse roles can be the toughest to fill. Often, those opportunities typically aren’t top of mind for job seekers.

Recruiters and HR Pros are not only fighting the above frustrations, but they’re also fighting record low unemployment:

The same group of [retailers] that were fighting over people last year will be fighting over people this year. And there are a few less people to fight over and a few more positions to fill,” said Steve Osburn, a director at the Kurt Salmon consulting firm who specializes in the supply chain.

What tools are today’s recruiters using to combat this conflation of events?

Better Pay: Amazon pays anywhere between the state minimum wage and Amazon’s widely touted $14. According to PayScale, the average U.S. warehouse worker earns $12.62 per hour, or about $28,000 annually. While the compensation may appear low relative to occupations nationally, they are more competitive than wages typically earned by occupations like cashiers and cooks at about $10 an hour, according to Brookings Institute. While Wal-Mart often finds itself behind the 8-ball in wage discussions, many workers report they receive similar pay at its warehouses.

Benefits You Don’t See Everyday (At least not at this skill level). While these jobs are most certainly a harbinger of the future, many of the jobs require the same level of education and skill as cashiers or cooks, meaning the talent pool can be as large as the population in many cases. Amazon, Wal-Mart and Staples offer benefits many of those (often hourly) jobs can’t like medical benefits, life insurance, frequent breaks and 401k plans. But the benefits these companies should offer are things like emergency child care, flexible work schedules and the potential for bonuses. Candidates who take warehouse jobs (depending on location) may speak little English, come from many different cultures, and could struggle to manage multiple jobs, family duties and transportation or stability issues that can affect attendance and tardiness.

Unique Approaches & Recruitment Challenges: When you’re new in town and chances are some bad press preceded your arrival, how do you staff up in a hurry? For many recruiters, this is where big data really shines in identifying the right people to reach out to. While much has been made of resume lines and fairs, for most warehouse jobs you can apply online.

Going beyond standard job postings: Some recruiters are also using SMS messaging to move candidates through the process even faster. This speaks to candidates for hard-to-fill positions because it gives them immediate interest by the employer. Candidates don’t want to fall into a black hole process where communication from the company is sparse and not very promising. Text recruit services gives candidates security in reliable job opportunities. Automated responses and scheduling make this kind of high-volume recruiting much simpler. With a population group that may not even have a resume or a home computer, this type of quick and painless “interview” is preferred. It’s also simpler for the recruiter, who can answer many of the questions posed with automated scripts or in other languages.

Advantages of Mobile First Recruiting

Mobile-first recruiting combines SMS and Text messaging, retargeting, and career site optimization to create an experience that is better on mobile. Recognizing that even Google is putting more weight behind mobile-optimized content and more people in the job seeking public have their phones at all times, mobile-first recruiting seeks to pique candidates’ interest where they are.

  • Recruiters can quickly and easily send out new information like hiring bonuses.
  • In a competitive landscape, hiring companies can inform applicants of benefits and retarget those who might be interested in them.
  • Organizations can reach those who may not desire the arduous process of a complex ATS.
  • Text messaging a candidate is 8x more effective than email.
  • Automation allows for a faster process and pre-populated answers in ANY language, allowing recruiters to reach a more diverse population than ever before.
  • In an SMS application process, a resume is often not even necessary, making the mobile-first recruiting a boon for jobs with a low barrier of entry.

Referral Programs: Since many of the candidates who might apply to a warehouse opening may not have a resume, smart recruiters are focusing on referrals from current (even new) hires. Using religious houses and community groups to find even more workers is another tactic. Even neighborhoods are used to spread the word about the benefits of working at these warehouses. Referral bonuses are often used. Retargeting on mobile or using SMS to attract those who may not have completed the entire application or “interview” can seal the deal in areas where there are many competing warehouses and fulfillment centers.

Incentives: Going beyond cash is another tactic when it comes to incentivizing workers. From discounts on the retailer’s products, to free ESL classes and after-parties during particularly difficult shifts, the incentives heat up during a warehouse initial hiring spate and again during seasonal upswings, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Other incentives includes shift selection and optional weekend shifts.

Create a Recruitment Marketing Campaign to Target Warehouse Workers

A Step-By-Step Guide

Gather your materials. The job shifts you need filled, specific benefits for the positions, any licenses a candidate might need (forklift for example) and any compensation numbers (including hourly pay, overtime pay, referral bonuses and seasonal bonuses.)

Look at your superstars. Referrals are crucial in the warehouse business for a reason. If you have warehouse rockstars, you need to find the thread that connects them. Pay attention to their work values and ask them what benefits or monetary compensation attracted them to the job. The answers may range from tuition benefits to the optional third-shift. Add their answers to your materials pile.

Build your job ad 3 ways: Of course you’ll need a description to do this, but you also want to make your ad compelling, point out the benefits of not having a traditional desk job or point out how your warehouse offers benefits others don’t. One warehouse had air conditioning and it made them more desirable than nearby warehouses that did not.

Job Advertisement: This will go on your career site, job boards, get picked up by aggregators and generally be a candidate’s window into what it’s like to work for your company, so make it good. Include details, benefits, options and NEXT STEPS. Especially important are what the candidate will need to bring to the in-person interview or what they will need to send in beforehand.

Headlines: These will go where the entire ad can’t. Think banner ads, mobile advertisement on social networks. You’ll need to capture the essence of the job and very likely low barrier of entry and salary in this short area.

FAQs: Figure out the questions people often ask about the jobs and then answer them for each role. These will come in handy for recruitment communication.

Please note: You may need to translate these, which is why it’s recommended to create them all at once. While it may take a few extra days initially, it will save time when you start a multi-channel recruitment campaign.

Figure out your channel strategy: Recruitment marketing today is a huge field of choices and it can get a little overwhelming. From job boards to billboards, there are a multitude of ways to get your message across. Here are the ones that work best with warehouse positions, particularly high-volume recruiting when opening a facility.

Email campaigns: Your jobs ads go into email alerts right alongside your competitors’ jobs. So tell your own story! This is where the advertisements are valuable. Create a campaign that focuses on benefits, follow up with compensation, inform candidates of upcoming hiring events and more. Many job boards offer custom email campaigns that align with your total recruitment marketing strategy.

SMS text blasts: Reach people where they are in a way that is easy to engage. Auto-responses allow you to start to develop a relationship and answer any questions. Remember those FAQs? Use them to build auto responses and save time. Recruit across the language barrier by offering language support. Send people to a hiring event and ensure they’re equipped with the tools they need to succeed there by giving them prompts and reminders.

Try retargeting: Did you know mobile has now eclipsed the desktop computer for browsing? It has. Time to follow your top candidates around the web and be top of mind during their job search. Remind them of upcoming hiring milestones or openings, referral bonuses and your top pay and benefits while they surf the web on their phone. This is pretty new in recruiting but wildly effective. All a candidate has to do is click on your job ad or visit your site and boom, you’re retargeting them. Since this is far from mainstream, it’s not something everyone is doing, but Nexxt is!

Boost your job ads, recruitment brand and your applies with targeted SMS recruiting and email marketing. Nexxt will help you build a custom campaign, backed with your brand, your message, and your goals in mind. In other words, it’s your arrow, Nexxt takes care of the aim. Start hiring with Nexxt!  

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3 Secrets to Make Your Small Business Job Ad Stand Out

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Small business recruiting is tricky. Somehow, small business owners have to work with very little resources to get good employees in the door. Add to the mix a sea of competitors who are bigger, have larger budgets and likely employ recruitment experts to do their bidding and you’ve found yourself in a small business recruiting dilemma. Without big names and big money, small businesses have to be more creative and strategic with how they write job advertisements.

These three secrets will keep small businesses on the right track when writing job ads.

Secret #1: Job ad is not synonymous with job description

For decades, mind-numbingly detailed job advertisements were just a simple copy of what the official company job description was. Formulating job advertisements that bring in top quality candidates who also fit into your company culture starts with clearly describing the summary of the company in an interesting way — not rambling on about meticulous and, let’s be honest, limiting job “requirements”. What our predecessors failed to see was the power of a customer-centric approach to recruiting. Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, explains the power behind job ads:

Your job ads reach a lot more people than just folks who might actually apply for the job. They reach people who have job-hunting friends, and they reach your customers and prospective customers too. You’re marketing to the entire community in a job ad, the same way you are in your customer-facing marketing campaigns.

The kind of job ads that will attract quality employees are those that depict what it’s really like to work for you, the company culture, the team atmosphere and the passion that goes into the work you do. Job advertisements are a public representation of your brand, so it should be compelling to read, not exhausting.

  • To do: Save the job description for internal purposes. If you’re bored reading it, chances are so will potential candidates. Start thinking about how you want potential candidates to perceive your brand and try to work that messaging into job ads.

Secret #2: Sell the career, not the job

While a breakdown of the job requirements is a must for guiding the right candidates in your direction, job seekers today are looking for experiences. Gone are the days where job security and compensation were all it took to snag candidates. Those things are still important and should be one element of the job advertisement, but what should be emphasized even more is the potential for career development, advancement and the chance to work on a collaborative, supportive team. A successful job ad should also fulfill these three requirements:

  •      Inspire the right candidates to apply
  •      Improve performance of all recruiting efforts
  •      Build brand awareness and affinity

Interestingly, a recent study done on the psychology of job ad verbiage revealed that, “ads focusing on what employers can provide job seekers — like work autonomy, career advancement and inclusion in major decisions — result in better employee-company matches. And these ads produce larger numbers of more qualified applicants.” The authors explain that these kinds of ads garnered three times as many high-quality applicants as ads focused on what the company needs from the candidate.

  • To do: Avoid long lists of job requirements and instead craft job ad verbiage around what a day in the life of this person would be at your company. Discuss the day-to-day tasks with active language and don’t forget to mention how they can flourish at your small business. Small businesses typically provide more freedom for growth and development than large corporations so tell them that!

Secret #3: Consider all generations in the workforce

In 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. While the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers phase out, Gen X becomes the new Baby Boomer and Gen Z gets ready to overtake the Millennials, employers are left with recruiting a multi-generational workforce. The good news: these working generations have more in common than we give them credit for. One of the most important stereotypes to debunk is whether mobile responsive job ads are needed to attract Baby Boomers. Almost half (48%) of Baby Boomers look for job postings on their phones. Keep in mind, they need to be easy to read and easy to follow because although 22% believe they are tech-savvy, HR says only about 6% of the generation understands modern technology.

  • To do: Create job advertisements that attract all generations with the following in mind:
    • Honesty – 35% of employees in every generation value ethics and fairness in leadership as a top trait an employer should have. Show it by mentioning in the job ad how your workplace values fairness
    • Meaningful Work – 30% of Millennials and 27% of Baby Boomers look for an organization that assigns meaningful work.
    • Flexibility – Although flexibility is typically valued most by Millennials (30%), 22% of Baby Boomers still look for flexibility in the organizations they work for.

Small business recruitment might not be a cakewalk, but that’s what experts are here for. These secrets will help small businesses learn how to write effective job ads that are going to catch the attention of the right candidates and ultimately, make your small business successful. For many small companies, job ads are one of the only forms of recruitment they engage in so make it count!

About the Author

Joe Weinlick Headshot for WordPressJoe Weinlick, President of Marketing with Beyond.

Joe is the entrepreneurial marketing leader and brand strategist with a unique mix of strategic, creative, operational, and technical abilities.

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