31 Proven Ways to Find Better Employees
Finding employees is hard, and getting harder all the time.
This year,of HR professionals report problems filling positions - up from 50 percent in 2013.
So, at a time when small businesses are just trying to fill positions, can you still be focused on trying to get the very best people?
You can and you should be. The difference between people that just fill positions and top-notch employees is enormous.
It's the difference between companies that barely make it, and companies that exceed all expectations. It's the difference between dreading Mondays and looking forward to coming to work everyday. If you want to do the best work of your life, you need an amazing team behind you.
So how do you do it in this market?
We're going to show you step by step how to get a lot more applicants for any job with unique, proven tips so that you're not just filling positions, you're filling them with the best possible people.
Hire Better for Any Job
The tips below were learned from many years of recruiting in extremely competitive markets.
They'll give you an edge on finding the best employees out there, and help you reach them first by putting you in contact before they even hit the job market.
Incorporate these tips into your recruiting strategy, and you'll have a pipeline of top candidates coming in no matter what job you're hiring for.
1. Poach Prime Employees with Peer Analysis and LinkedIn
This is one of the best tricks many years of recruiting taught us, and you don’t need to be a recruiter to use it. It'll show you where to find the great employees, and help you duplicate your best hires.
Step 1. Analyze your best employees. Look at when they worked at previous companies, and ask them who the best people were that they worked with.
Step 2. Search LinkedIn. Go to LinkedIn and click "Advanced," next to the LinkedIn search bar. You can search by name, company, role and location. So, if you learn that a company had great engineers in Austin, you can find people with the title "Engineer" who worked for the company in that location.
3. Get in touch. See tip 3 of our executive hiring section for advice on sending a great InMail. If the person you're targeting is connected to a current employee, get an introduction via LinkedIn first.
2. Write Job Ads that Treat Top Talent Like Customers
The basic difference?
A job ad actively sells a position to a candidate by prominently displaying the aspects of the job that will excite them most, and forgetting everything but the absolute essentials. Here are four steps toward greatly improving your job ads.
Step 1. Go to Glassdoor. Do a search from the home page for the position you’re hiring for.
Step 2. Check reviews. Click a company, then click “Reviews.” Read the “Cons” section of each review to find employee pain points for this job. In the example below, I found that a lot of chefs complained about lack of paid time off (PTO).
Step 3. Address those pain points. Using my example above, if you're hiring chefs and your company offers better than average PTO, display that prominently in your job ad, maybe even in the title.
Step 4. More essential info. Applicants want to know what it is about your company, team, location and the position that makes it great. Be sure to address all these, with specific details.
Want to go into more detail? Check out our full post on how to write a job ad.
3. Turn Previous Candidates into a Talent Goldmine
At a lot of companies, the resumes and data of candidates who were passed over for a job end up collecting dust in a desk drawer or on an ATS system, never to be used again.
At the same time, we live in a world where people are constantly talking about the value of data, “data mining,” and becoming more “data driven.”
All of those previous applicants are valuable data. They’re people who are interested in working for your company, and have already shared their information with you.
So how can you stay in contact with them, and easily find them when you need to hire? Let me show you a little trick that will make it easy to organize them and stay in touch.
Step 1. Get Gmass.Gmass is a freemium Chrome addon that lets you contact lists of people from your Gmail account (yes, you'll need Gmail for this to work). Get the addon and follow the basic setup instructions.
Step 2. Label your applicants. In Gmail, open an email from an applicant that you've passed over for a position, but think shows promise. Then click the file symbol in the tool bar, "Create New" and label the email "Promising [Position Name]."
Do this with each position you hire for, labeling emails from promising candidates you don't hire.
Step 3. Build a list. Now, when you have a position for these past candidates, or just want to touch bases, type the label in the Gmail search bar, select it, and click the red magnifying glass.
Step 4. Get in touch. Now Gmass will build a list for you of all the people with that label. You can write a single email that is personalized and automatically sent to each recipient individually. For large lists, Gmass can send over a few days to stay within Gmail sending limits.
4. Use Facebook Ads to Target Ideal Demographics Jobs
There’s a good reason why Facebook did $5.2 billion in ad sales in the first quarter of 2016.
Their ad platform is incredibly powerful, giving you the ability to deliver your message to just the right people. Let’s go through a quick example of how to use it for finding employees.
Step 1. Login to Facebook. In the left column, click “Create Ad.” You’ll get a lot of options. For the purposes of this example, choose “Collect leads…” Click “Continue,” then be sure you’ve got the right Facebook page selected.
Step 2. Create an audience. Below the section where you choose your page, you’ll see “Audience.” Here’s where you do the targeting. Let’s say I was looking for baristas in the Chicago area.
With this targeting, I can place an ad in the Facebook feed of anyone in the Chicago area who’s had “barista” in their job title.
Step 3. Create an ad. Click continue once you’ve targeted your audience. Now click “images,” then “Free stock images.” Here you can search for a free image to go with your ad. In this case, I’ll grab one of a barista.
Step 4. Write your text. Before writing, check out our article on how to post a job to Facebook to learn exactly what text will get the best results.
Step 5. Create a form. After creating your ad, click “Create Form” at the bottom of the page. Name the form, click “Next” then “Not Now” on the “Context Card” page. You'll see the Email and Full Name boxes checked on the next page. This is what you’ll ask for after someone clicks the ad. You can ask for more, but less is usually better.
Once these are added, you can click "Place Order" to send your ad to Facebook for approval.
5. Email Employees Copy and Paste Hiring Updates for Social Media
Why should you share jobs on social media?
Because more than 70 percent of potential candidates are passive - they aren't searching for a job on boards, but they are on social media.
Image via LinkedIn
Get employees involved in the search by making it dead simple for them. Send an email with updates about the job they can copy, paste and share.
Here's a template you can steal!
Hello! Hope all is well.
As you may know, we're currently looking for a [position offered]. Want to give us a hand finding you another awesome co-worker? We've got a social media update below that you can paste and share to help us in our search.
Here it is:
We're hiring at [company name] for [position]. Interested? Contact [person's name] at [email address].
That's it! Just copy, paste and share. Please contact me if you have questions.
Besides helping you reach passive candidates, you're also getting a referral, which is one of the best ways to find employees that fit your work culture.
6. Post Your Open Positions to the Perfect Job Board
There are a lot of job boards to choose from.
We've got guidance below to help you with certain job categories. You can also use our guide to the top 50 job boards to find the one that will work for you.
7. Test Different Locations for Your Job Postings
A lot of people limit themselves by geographic location when they post jobs. If you're having trouble filling a job, try switching it up. For instance, if you're based in the suburbs, try posting to the nearest big city. If you're posting in a big city and not getting results, try posting in nearby suburbs instead.
Also, let's say you're hiring engineers. Try posting in areas where there are lots of engineers (for instance, near universities known for engineering programs). Be sure to promote the best parts of your location in the job ad.
Hiring in Impossible Markets
Some jobs seem impossible to hire for these days.
Nurses, engineers, programmers, data scientists and truck drivers are especially hard to find right now.
How do you find employees when the market is particularly tough? We've got tips and tactics that will help.
1. Use Google Alerts to Look for Layoffs and Send in Recruiters
A few years ago the city of Denver was having a hard time recruiting police officers. So when it heard Detroit was laying them off, it sent over recruiters to administer the police exam.
Not only can you do the same thing, but you can setup a constant automated search for layoffs with Google alerts.
Step 1. Go to the Google Alerts page.
Step 2. Choose your account. In the upper right corner, you can click to choose the Gmail account you want the alerts to go to.
Step 3. Refine your search. You'll want to click "Show Options," and limit your search so you don't get a flood of irrelevant alerts. For example, you'll at least want to limit by region, and you may want to only use "News" as a source. For your search, type "layoffs" and an industry you're interested in. See the example below.
Step 4. Create alert. Just click "Create Alert," and you're done! You'll start receiving emails alerting you to layoffs. If you get too many alerts, try further limiting your search.
2. Use HackerRank to Discover Tech Talent
Looking for an awesome coder that can prove their skills?
HackerRank might be just for you. They make it easy for you to set up challenges and look for the best talent. You can set up online hackathons of your own, or use prebuilt ones to test the skills of potential employees.
Companies like Zenefits, Quora and Palantir have discovered amazing talent through HackerRank.
3. Bid on Highly Specialized Industry Search Terms with Adwords
This an advanced technique, but if you're really having a hard time filling a position, it's worth it.
Here's the idea:
Figure out Google searches that only people in the job you're hiring for would do, then bid on those searches. This will put your job ad in front of them every time they do that specific search.
We don't know of anyone else using this technique right now, so there's a good chance your company won't be sharing this space with competitors.
To use this technique, you should already be familiar with Adwords, or willing to hire a freelancer that is (see our chapter below on finding freelancers). Adwords is a powerful tool, but it takes some study to use well.
Your main task is to figure out just what very specific thing your dream employee would be searching for, and bid on that keyword.
For example, we once bid on keywords for an encryption code that consisted of 32 numbers and letters that only certain types of hard to find developers would search for, and managed to make a very difficult hire.
Try it out if you're in a pinch.
4. Watch Competitor Reviews on Glassdoor for Headhunting Opportunities
As we showed in a previous tip, Glassdoor can be a great research tool.
In this instance, let's look at how to use it to research competitors. One of the most difficult jobs to hire for in the U.S. right now is a truck driver. How can we use Glassdoor to find opportunities in that profession?
Step 1. Do a Glassdoor search. Go to Glassdoor's home page and do a search for the position you're hiring for, with the location left blank.
Step 2. Check company ratings. In the left sidebar you'll see company ratings. Look for companies whose ratings fall below the rest. When I searched for "truck driver," I noticed a couple companies falling below 3 stars. Closer inspection showed one has been laying off employees.
Step 3. Now what? Ok, you've found some companies that are having trouble. What to do with that information? As we showed you in tip one of the previous section, you can look for people that work for a particular company with LinkedIn search, and get in touch.
Of course, not all professions gravitate to LinkedIn. You could also use Facebook to search for people who worked for the company, or target the city where the company is based and people with that job title.
5. Contact Alumni of Local Universities
When RightNow Technologies (known as Oracle RightNow after a $1.5bn acquisition) got started, they had a bit of a problem hiring software engineers. That's because they were based in Montana, a state known better for ranchers.
But... the local university had a great engineering program.
A lot of the alumni had come, enjoyed their time in Montana, and left to find work elsewhere. RightNow had a hunch that lots of them would want to come back, and began contacting graduates via alumni associations. It paid off, helping them fill many of their toughest roles.
Hiring Hourly Employees
Hourly employees are the lifeblood of our economy, making up 56.7 percent of all workers.
Finding the right ones can make a huge difference - 40 percent of hourly workers stay at a job 5 years or more. Dedicated, long term hourly workers are out there, you just need to be the first to find them.
1. Hold a Live Q&A with Facebook's Video Feature
One of Facebook's newest and most popular features is live video.
You can now, on your cellphone, stream a live video to everyone in your feed, and they can ask you questions in the comments of the post. This is a great opportunity to connect with prospective hourly employees and answer their questions in a fun format with viral potential.
Step 1. Open Facebook on your phone.
Step 2. Go to your Facebook company page, and tap "Publish."
Step 3. Tap "Live Video."
Step 4. Tap the blue "Go Live" button.
Step 5. Go live! Watch for questions and comments to appear below the video feed, and answer them with your voice.
When you're finished, a recorded version of the video will automatically be added to your timeline.
2. Do a 15 Minute Phone Interview for Fast Screening
One problem we hear about from companies that hire hourly workers is the number of applicants they have to sort through that are unqualified.
Even when your job ad states, "Must Speak Spanish," or some other concrete, necessary skill, people without those skills apply. Don't waste time bringing in unqualified people for face-to-face interviews.
Talk to applicants with potential over the phone first, and make sure they have the skills necessary. A few more tips for making phone interviews a success:
- Use the same list of job interview questions with each candidate. It makes comparing candidates easier.
- Use a service like Calendly to let them book a time that works, rather than doing lots of back and forth to find a time.
- Ask them what their current and expected wage is. It'll give you an idea of how they did at their previous job, and if they'll accept your offer.
- Ask them why they left their last job. Motivation is important. If they're leaving for issues that are common at your company, they're not a good match.
Want to dig deeper? Check out our full article on phone screening.
3. Partner with Wounded Warrior Project To Hire Vets
Here's a way to do some good, and get great hires. Obviously, this tip applies to more than hourly workers. Use it to find highly qualified vets to work with you in a variety of positions.
Wounded Warrior Project has a program especially for helping companies connect with qualified military veterans who have been injured in combat. The program also teaches companies to work with injuries and disabilities caused by war.
4. Invite Interested Students in for Tours
One small business I talked to that was hiring in a market where the unemployment rate was incredibly low said this had worked well for them.
They talked to guidance counsellors at the local high school and junior colleges and told them that any interested students were welcome to come in and tour their facilities. Overtime, they said, they made several hires this way. If college students are your aim, try looking on a student job board like CollegeRecruiter.com, or checking with a university's career development office.
Hiring Top Executives
Finding an executive is one of the more difficult recruiting tasks you'll ever need to do.
It's not like finding any other type of employee, and it's not easy to find advice on doing it well. And the pressure is on - a bad hire here can take down a whole organization, an excellent hire can rocket you forward.
We've got some tips below to make it easier, and make you more likely to hire great executives.
1. How to Choose a Great Executive Search Firm or Headhunter
Most of the time an executive job search means hiring a search firm or a headhunter.
So getting great executives means picking the right people to help you find them. Here are some tips that can really help you make a better choice:
- Reference check. Ask search firms and headhunters to provide references for both clients and candidates. Talk to these references to get an idea of client care and candidate quality.
- Research. Research placements the firm has made and see how successful candidates were in their roles.
- Network test. Ask for a shortlist of 5 candidates they would reach out to for your role. If their network is strong, they'll be able to do this off the top of their heads. If they cannot, it is a red flag.
2. Job Boards for Finding Top Executives
You won't find a lot of companies using job boards to find executives.
Typically, they still advertise for executives the old fashioned way - in newspapers or trade publications. But times have changed, and everyone is getting more comfortable doing things online.
Here are a few job boards where you'll find executive candidates:
LinkedIn - It's popular with executives - a recent search for members with the title "Vice President" turned up more than 3 million results. Learn more about advertising jobs on LinkedIn. Price: Depends on location.
Dice - This board is focused mostly on the tech sector, and it's a popular place to post executive level jobs. Price: $250 - $395 per job posting.
TheLadders - Great for high level, high paying jobs, including executive positions. At one time it only accepted job ads that offered $100,000 or more per year. Price: Free for employers.
3. Write LinkedIn InMails Candidates Respond To
As we mentioned, executives and lots of other potential hires are on LinkedIn.
Once you've tracked them down, InMail, LinkedIn's internal messaging system, is a great way to get in contact. The problem is that the best hires often get a lot of InMail messages. How do you make sure yours get opened, read and responded to?
- Keep it short. We usually limit the subject to "Opportunity at [company name]" and just a few sentences in the body, so that the candidate can read it on push notifications from LinkedIn.
- Know your candidate. Have a look at their LinkedIn profile, and any other online presence. Do you have common ground to connect on? Is there something about you or your company they'd love? Use that in your message.
- Do some house cleaning. Once you send the InMail, the natural next step for the recipient is to have a quick look at your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it's up-to-date and presentable.
Hiring Seasonal Employees Fast
The good news about hiring seasonal workers: you don't have to worry about retention so much.
Of course, that's also the bad news. You'll be hiring them year after year, and usually there's a lot of competition for them, especially during the holiday retail season.
We've got tips to help you lock down the best seasonal employees before they're even looking for your job, and before your competitors get in contact with them.
1. Use Facebook Ads to Find Students, Teachers and Other Prime Seasonal Workers
As we mentioned earlier, Facebook has great tools for helping you zero in on the perfect candidates.
In the example below, you'll see that I've selected the Denver area, and searched for students and teachers - two groups that are often available when companies most need seasonal employees. The search gave me 9,700 people to target with an ad.
There are many other ways to target people, depending on your business. Just look for someone who might be interested in seasonal work - like a student - and has an interest that might make them ideal for you.
For example, if your company gets a lot of summer visitors from a nearby National Park, try searching for students who are interested in Hiking and Backpacking.
2. Tap Into Amazon's Secret Seasonal Weapon - RVers
Did you know people who travel the country in RVs are often looking for part time, seasonal work?
Amazon knows this, and they've gone so far as to set up special RV parks for their "CamperForce" that works during the busy winter holiday season to help them keep up with demand.
So how can you use this knowledge? For one, you can plug RVers into the Facebook searches above to target them with ads. But you can also go low-tech.
Visit local RV parks, and post flyers offering your jobs.
3. How to Market Your On-Site Job Fair to Make Mass Hiring Easier
Don't wait for a seasonal job fair to come to you - make it happen yourself.
If you've got the room at your workplace to host people for a job fair, you should be able to create a hiring event that brings in seasonal workers. The biggest obstacle will most likely be getting people to show.
Here are a few easy tips for marketing it:
- Contact local media. This event may be newsworthy, especially in towns with high unemployment. Let local media know about the event. Be sure to include high school and university level media.
- Visit career centers. College campuses will usually have career centers that help students find work. Let them know about your event.
- Talk to Job Services. Most regions have a Job Services center that helps locals connect with work. Visit them and ask if they can put the word out.
- Post to Craigslist. Go to the local job search section of Craigslist and create a post advertising your event.
- Post to social media. Post a regular status update, or take it further using our first tip from this chapter to create ads and target people likely to be interested.
- Tell customers. Your customers may make good employees, or they may know someone who will. Let them know about your event. You could even hand out a flyer with each purchase.
4. Best Job Boards for Finding Seasonal Employees
Still need help tracking down seasonal employees? There are several job boards geared toward this specific niche.
Backdoorjobs.com - Specializes in "short term job adventures." If you're advertising a seasonal job that might be considered an adventure, post on this niche site. Think Conservation Corps, renewable energy or sustainable farming - holiday retail, not so much. Price: $375 for 6 months, $475 for 1 year.
CoolWorks.com - Much like backdoorjobs.com - it's for adventurous seasonal work. Price: Starts at $250.
Job Monkey - This site boasts "The Coolest Jobs on Earth," but isn't as narrowly defined as the previous two. There are jobs for Uber drivers, nurses and ESL teachers posted. Price: Starts at $99 for a single job post.
SnagAJob - If you're looking for seasonal retail or service employees, this board should be on your list. It boasts 60 million job seekers, mostly in retail, hotel and restaurant work. Price: $89/month minimum.
AllRetailJobs.com - As the name suggests, this is another great site if you're looking for seasonal retail employees. Price: $118 - $335 per posting.
For summer work, you might also consider offering an education internship.
Want to check out even more boards? Check out our complete guide to job posting sites.
5. Target Workers in Places with Opposing Seasons
Do you need seasonal workers for the winter, especially around the holidays?
Just before this same time, in late fall, seasonal workers in places like national parks and other summer attractions are being laid off. You can try targeting ads there, but an even better way might be to get in contact with owners of local businesses and see if they'll put the word out, in exchange for you doing the same when your busy season comes to an end.
Locating Remote Staff
Betterteam is an entirely remote company, and between us, we have decades of experience working remotely.
We know there are a lot of advantages to remote teams - your talent search aren't limited by geography, you can look for the best person to do the job in the world, and remote workers tend to be more productive and have a 50 percent higher retention rate.
But remote work isn't the easiest, and not everyone is cut out for it. Below, we've got tips on where and how to find the best remote workers that will help you reap all this potential.
1. Post to Niche Job Boards to Reach Experienced Remote Employees
A few of the top job boards do allow you to post jobs that are specific to remote employees. Indeed, for instance, has such a feature.
But there are several niche job boards that are especially effective for finding remote work. These include:
WeWorkRemotely - Tech and startup focused, with a lot of programing, customer service and digital marketing jobs. Price: $200 for 30 days.
Working Nomads - Very focused on tech - it recently had more than 1,000 jobs in software development and less than 100 in all other categories combined. Price: $99 for 30 days.
FlexJobs - A remote job board with a wider range of offerings. Price: $14.96/mo. to $49.95/yr. minimum.
2. Post Craigslist Ads in Expat Hotspots
All around the world, there are smart, adventurous expats looking for a way to stay on the road a bit longer.
You'll find that they have a wide range of abilities, and often times U.S. wages go much further for them, which could make your job especially attractive.
Expats from the U.S. tend to turn to the familiar when looking for a job abroad: Craigslist. The classified giant has a presence in most major cities around the world. Some popular ones to check out.
You can post in English, and get better results by following our Craigslist job posting guide.
You might also, once again, try Facebook - it lets you target Expats from the U.S. as part of its detailed targeting.
3. Use Skype Interviews to Connect and Check Internet, Environment
Free web video conferencing services like Skype and Google Voice are great tools for remote work.
Most likely you'll be using it in all stages of your online work cycle, but we're going to focus on its use for hiring.
In the hiring stage, you'll want to use Skype as a chance to connect and get a feeling for a candidate's personality, and check that they meet your basic requirements.
Use our guide to phone interviews to help you formulate questions.
You can also check two of the most important things for many remote jobs: internet connection and a decent work environment.
If the candidate has trouble finding a quiet place for the interview or getting a good enough connection for your video conference, they might not be ready for a remote job.
4. Build a Presence on Industry Related Public Forums and Communities
This tip will benefit you on multiple levels:
- Being active on public forums related to your industry is a good practice all around. You can't go wrong staying on top of industry news.
- It's good for your employer brand - if potential candidates see you positively contributing to the group, they'll have a better opinion of you.
- You'll build relationships that may lead to a hire.
- You can use the forum to broadcast jobs to very qualified people.
Ok, so how do you find the good forums in your niche? Use a Google search operator. Specifically, this one: inurl:forum. Then add another search term related to the position you're interested in - let's use "web design" as an example. So, the entire search will look like this:
That search shows pages and pages of forums related to web design - one of the most common remote jobs. Do this same search for your industry, find a forum that interests you, and get active.
Hiring Reliable Freelancers
The use of freelancers to do jobs is on the rise, with 25 percent of the world's workers set to work on a contract basis.
The reasons are clear.
Freelancers let you try out a position if you're not sure the company can afford it, and help you bring in the assistance you need when you have a one-off job your team is not equipped to do.
It's also a great way to test someone you may be thinking about as a regular employee. We've got some tried and true ways to help you find great freelancers and be sure they're up to the task.
1. Use Websites Like Upwork to Find Virtual Freelancers
If the contract work you need done can be accomplished on a computer, you're in luck.
Let's get you started quickly on Upwork.
Step 1. Go to Upwork. Create an account if you don't have one, then from the dashboard click "Post a Job." Upwork will walk you through a series of steps to define your job. Before posting, do the next step.
Step 2. Set pay and visibility. If you're not sure how much the job should cost, pay by the hour. Also, toward the bottom you'll see "Freelancer Preferences." Expand this and choose "Only freelancers I have invited can find this job," or you'll get an unmanageable amount of applications.
Step 3. Post and filter. Click "Post Job," go to the search bar at the top of the page and enter the position you're hiring for. After you search, click, "Advanced filters." This will open a wealth of important filters that can help you find the right freelancer.
Step 4. Contact candidates. After adding filters, click on promising candidates to see portfolios, number of hours worked, job success rate, number of jobs completed and individual job reviews. A candidate with thousands of hours, a portfolio you like and a high success rate is a likely winner.
Upwork is a great place to look if you need a freelance writer, translator, software developer or researcher. If you have no idea where to start, I suggest you check out How to Find a Virtual Assistant – A Definitive Guide.
2. Start Small to Accomplish Big Freelance Jobs
In general, if you're working with freelancers online or in-person, start small.
Don't hand someone full access to your website or the keys to your office on their first assignment. Look for a low-risk task to build trust, get a feel for how you work together and what kind of work they do.
If you need to do a large project, try breaking it into smaller pieces and checking in as each piece is finished to be sure you're on the same page.
- Design work - have freelancers produce a wire frame or sketch.
- Copy writing - have them do an outline
- Research - a small sample.
- Web development - Break the job into milestones, or start them on bug fixes/site improvements.
3. Join Local Meetup Groups in Your Space and Make Freelance Connections
Have you checked out Meetup.com?
It's a great way to meet people anywhere, and it can help you meet face-to-face with different types of professionals. In rural Kalispell, Montana, you can join a WordPress meetup. In Chicago, you've got Data Science Chicago - a meetup for one of the most in-demand professions.
See if there's a meetup in your area that relates to your industry, go network and let them know about job opportunities. No related meetups in your area? Try creating one yourself.
Start Your Talent Search
You've got the tools you need to find your next great employee!
Go out there and find the person that takes your small business to the next level. We've got one more tool that will help you do it - use Betterteam to post your job to 100+ boards, and social networks, with a few clicks.