Hiring professional salespeople and technicians has always been a challenge, but as of late it has become a monumental task for executives and managers throughout our industry. Many managers at installing security and monitoring companies agree that hiring the right people is their most important responsibility. Appointing the wrong person to sell, service or install security systems can have devastating ramifications. The cost of training and cleaning up the mistakes of a bad hire can be tremendous, and oftentimes the resulting human resources issues can present significant problems as well.
As recruiting efforts become more challenging, new techniques are required. Managers must now be more creative. The old days of placing an ad in the local newspaper and waiting for the telephone to ring are long over. Prospective salespeople and technicians are using other resources to conduct their job searches. Let’s take a look at how to go about finding the right people and ways for managers to make smarter recruitment decisions.
Survey Sheds Light on Job Search Strategies
Recently, CareerBuilder.com published the results of its survey of more than 1,000 full-time employees. The participants were asked questions about how they approached the task of searching for employment. The findings were enlightening. The survey indicated that the average jobseeker visits nearly 15 different online resources for employment, including CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, Indeed.com and Craig’s List.
To cast the widest net, installing security and monitoring firms need to do a better job of marketing their staff openings. As with advertising your products and services, you must get the word out there that your place of business offers a great employment opportunity for the right candidate. To reach these people, employers need to take advantage of the same resources that jobseekers are leveraging in their searches. Many managers are reporting that some of their best people have come to them through social media networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Despite the difficulties security firms have recruiting quality talent, the pool of potential applicants is considerable in many regions of the country. The survey reported a whopping 79% of Gen Y, also known as Millennials, are currently searching for a new job or are open to a new opportunity. With all the new technology they have in their hands, this population group — generally considered to be born between approximately 1976 and 2000 — are active on the Internet and social networks. Thus, they are much less likely to use traditional sources for seeking employment.
One of the more interesting conclusions of the survey was that most applicants more or less “shop around” for a job. They are visiting employers’ Web sites to see if the prospective firms would make a good fit for them. They are also likely to Google your company name to see what others in online communities are saying about you. In other words, jobseekers are like consumers: They are going to do research before they “buy in” to your company.
A simple Web site feature to include is a careers page that is inviting, not excluding. It should highlight your company’s values, mission and goals. Consider including a short video with the CEO discussing the importance of employees, company culture and why it is a great place to work.
You’ll also want to emphasize how employees can grow and further their careers. Testimonials by current employees and pictures of them enjoying their work or taking part in a company function can also be helpful in positively portraying the organization.
Attracting More Applicants
There are several factors to consider when advertising job openings. First, who are you trying to hire? Many of us have made the mistake of getting really excited about an applicant who has a few years of sales experience with another alarm company. Be careful here. The company culture and expectations at your firm could be different compared to the applicant’s previous employer. You must understand that it is likely an experienced sales consultant or technician is not only bringing over some relevant knowledge and skill to you, but also some habits that might not be a fit for your company.
Many experienced managers agree they would rather hire someone from outside the industry and train them on their own company’s policies and procedures so that they do not have to be “untrained.” Indeed, new hires from outside the industry are oftentimes more readily acclimated to your company’s culture and become a better fit faster than someone with previous experience in the security industry.
Next, you must understand what motivates these jobseekers to respond to your ad. Keep in mind that the promise of a great salary or the highest paid commissions in the industry might not be enough to attract their interest. The factors that job candidates are often curious about are more likely to relate to benefits, such as medical insurance and how your 401(k) plan performs. For instance, is there an auto allowance?
Another big concern centers on training. Are prospective new hires going to be given all the tools they need to be successful in this new career path? What separates your company from competitors? Why are you better? What about advancement opportunities? It is imperative to highlight these benefits when you communicate your message. Think of this approach as being similar to listing features and benefits of your security system on a promotional flier.
Act Fast on Good Candidates
The questions all hiring managers seem to be asking these days are, “Where do I go to find professional salespeople? Where can I find installers and service techs who really care about my customers, and can I trust them to do a good job representing the integrity and values of our company?”
Placing a well written ad in online employment Web sites is a great start. It seems like every manager has their personal favorite. You just have to determine how the program will fit into your budget. The good news is you will likely get a lot of resumes. In fact, you might be overwhelmed with applicants. As you scan through the resumes you will find that most are not qualified for the position you posted for various reasons. However, you will identify some that seem to be interesting and require your attention.
Some urgency is needed here. Be prepared to process these applications right away. The CareerBuilder.com survey found that failing to communicate with job candidates once they have applied is a quick way to turn them off. These prospective employees should be contacted within two days of receiving their resumes. Treat the job candidate like you would a sales prospect. Move quickly. A prompt telephone call to the applicant is required. If you do not reach the person, respond with an E-mail explaining you have reached out to them and you would like them to get back in contact with you. Set up the face-to-face interview right away.
Beyond online resources, there are several other proactive approaches to help installing security and monitoring companies identify quality job candidates. Here are a few suggestions:
The “Buddy Bonus” program — This has proven to be very successful because it is “word-of-mouth” prospecting. Many managers say some of their best employees were recommended to the company by a friend. After the “buddy” gets hired, the referring employee should then receive some sort of a bonus after the new hire achieves a level of sales success or length of time on the payroll.
Existing customers — Many managers find that some of their best salespeople were found among their existing client base. This recruiting technique can be undertaken cost-effectively through a monthly newsletter or perhaps a special mailing to your customers.
Local colleges and universities — This recommendation comes from Chris Newman of Secure One Alarm Systems in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Newman personally visits educational institutions to meet with career counselors. This outreach has resulted in a great deal of success in hiring quality talent for Secure One. Newman says you can expect the counselors to have “stacks” of resumes from recent graduates and current students who are looking for part- and full-time employment.
Finding the right person to join your team is an important step in building a great organization. The person you are looking for is not likely to stop by your office one day and ask if you are hiring. Therefore, you can expect a thorough and proactive approach will be required if you are to pinpoint talented individuals.
Russ Ackerman is District Sales Director for Vector Security (formerly Certified Security Systems) in Jacksonville, Fla.