Craft your job postings so that they're beyond job descriptions and more engaging to prospective applicants.
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Word on the street is that we, the green industry, aren’t doing what we should to attract good new hires. Or, we may even be actively alienating them.

This isn’t an issue isolated to the green industry, however. Everyone struggles with hiring — but the green industry does seem to have an especially hard time with marketing in general. Just as we update how we market our products and services to customers over time, so must we evolve how we market ourselves to potential hires. Does your company have a defined marketing strategy regarding recruiting? If you’re already struggling with how to market your products and services, then I suspect not.

Let’s face it: We stink at marketing ourselves to the “outside world.” As an industry, we’re a bit of an enigma to everyone else. Average people don’t understand what we do on a daily basis or what we sell. Our common job titles don’t correlate to many other industry job titles and don’t resonate with the mass public. In terms of hiring, this confusion creates an uphill climb when it comes to luring prospective professionals into the industry. We also fall short in recruitment marketing within the industry, to draw potential hires internally. Little information is disseminated in the right places at the right time, leaving recent graduates and industry members alike, without a sufficient understanding of realistic, green industry career paths, titles, salary potential and so on.

Sometimes it seems that as an industry, we’re overly focused on keeping our clique exclusive. But, cool clubs are only cool if people talk about them and show up.

Smart recruiting

Just like product marketing, your recruitment marketing should be authentic, ongoing, and consistent to have an impact. Stop-and-start recruitment marketing is no more effective than stop-and-start product marketing. If there are approaches to product marketing that are working for you such as Instagram, video or how-to posts on your website, then you should also apply those approaches to how you hire.

In your recruitment marketing, content is crucial. In this age of high skepticism and low loyalty employment, applicants want to know more about your company culture, your values and how you do business before they even contact you. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Potential hires want the same consideration as customers would get from you. They want to know what you are offering, what you want from them in return, and be given a clear representation of your reputation. They want to get a feel for their fit in your company.

What makes your company unique? What value do you bring to the table beyond the profits you make? Why would someone want to work for you? How does your team operate? Such questions can be answered, directly and indirectly, within content you publish in places your desired hires frequent such as social media sites, print publications or other media and events. Show people what you do and how you do it as often as you can. This type of content marketing recruitment is just as useful to pre-professionals trying to decide on potential education and career paths. As a side benefit, customers often find such behind the scenes information equally interesting.

Another part of good recruitment marketing is rebooting your job descriptions. Boring listings that consist of an exhausting list of job duties are the worst. I told one client of mine that their four-page job description (which really was just a mind-numbing daily to-do list) made me want to rip my hair out. Trust me, you don’t want to hire the person who wants to apply for that job. Creative, driven and productive people aren’t going to be enticed by a boring to-do list. If they are already smart and capable, the day-to-day to-do list will get managed. Good applicants want the big-picture and they want to know if their personality and goals are a fit for the job role. If you aren’t including a description of the type of personality that best fits the job with the position description, plus information about your company’s value system, you’re going to make finding the right employee harder.

From the hiring side of things, your job gets a lot easier when bad applicants weed themselves out before they ever start. Interviewing a bunch of people who are clearly not right for the job is painful. (However, this does not mean you can or should discriminate against your applicants. See my January column “Are you out of bounds?” for more on this topic.) Hiring someone whose value system doesn’t harmonize with that of your company will only result in a waste of time and resources, as well as an empty job slot. The goal of good recruiting is to get the best applications — not necessarily more applications. Applicants who’ve spent time on your website, seen videos made by you or your staff or read your articles shared by friends through social media will get a better sense of whether they may be a fit. They will be more eager about applying, as well as more prepared for your interview process.

Ultimately, hiring is a collaborative process. Just as with customers, you should work to build meaningful relationships with potential recruits long before you meet them. If you want better recruits, tell your story and tell it often. Once you get some recruiting marketing momentum, you’ll probably find your task much easier, and your hires a much better fit.

Leslie (CPH) owns Halleck Horticultural, LLC, through which she provides horticultural consulting, business and marketing strategy, product development and branding, and content creation for green industry companies. lesliehalleck.com