I live in the country.
My commute is more concerned with avoiding deer than congestion, and it often takes me down Carp Road.
Carp Road is a thriving light industry business park, just on the outskirts of the more developed parts of Ottawa. It’s home to a variety of businesses, including everything from tech to construction and trades – all working together within the Carp Road Corridor BIA.
Take a drive down Carp Road these days and you’ll get a pretty good sense for how they find tradespeople to join their teams. ‘Help wanted’ signs are everywhere, and all of them carry the same call to action: ‘Apply within’.
If you talk to anyone in marketing, they’ll tell you that as much as we’d like to believe we are rational human beings, we’re not.
Decisions are made on feeling and emotion, and then justified by facts and figures. This applies just as much to career decisions as it does to picking your dog food.
The opportunity to generate a feeling or emotion in someone driving by one of those ‘Help wanted’ signs is pretty tough to beat.
Imagine you’re a tradesperson heading down Carp Road and you see a sign.
You already have a good idea what the outfit does, the location, and what skilled trades they may need, without even slowing down. It peaks your interest, so you turn around and pull up in front. You look at how big the yard is and how much equipment they have to get a sense of the size of the company. You look at whether or not things are maintained and organized. You look at the state of their buildings, and even their landscaping. All of this builds that initial feeling that you’d like to learn more, so you ‘Apply within’.
‘Apply within’ takes it to the next level. You come into the office. Do they take pride in it? Are there any people there? Are they happy? Someone hears you come in and comes out to meet you. You introduce yourself and ask some questions. They tell you a little about how long they’ve been there and what they like about the place – one of those conversations that makes you feel like you’re getting inside information. Then you meet the owner, who gets to know you a little, gives you the nuts and bolts of the position, and asks you to give it some thought. After all of this, you leave with one of two feelings: “This isn’t for me” or “I belong here!”
According to a 2017 survey by Aptitude Research Partners, 88% of hiring decision makers agree that an informed candidate is a quality candidate. Why then do so many SMEs continue to post job ads with no more than a small paragraph on the company, and nowhere else to go to learn more? How can they possibly expect to generate an emotional response within a person, to drive a decision about whether or not to dedicate their professional life to them?
We’re missing out on great talent when we can’t generate that feeling. People will just move on, keep searching, and eventually default to joining larger companies with strong reputations and a lot of hiring gravity.
In the end, this really sells short a lot of smaller or less well-known companies that can provide some great career opportunities.
How you can start adding some ‘Apply within’ to your hiring strategy.
If you’re like most SMEs, you’re likely flying under the radar of the local talent market. You might even be a ‘Best-kept-secret’. If so, then you need more ‘Apply within’ in your hiring strategy.
Here’s a good place to start.
Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal hire for a minute, and ask yourself five questions:
Is it likely that a job ad would be the first place I would learn about our company?
Where would I go to learn the basics about what we do and about working here?
Where would I go to experience our company culture?
Where would I find people I know that actually work at our company?
Where would I go to understand our company's impact within our community?
Once you’ve looked at things from this perspective, ideas will start to flow. You’ll start noticing what other companies are doing, and there may even be a tendency to get overwhelmed.
Enhance your career page and add the voice of your team through images, videos, and stories.
The path will open up from there.
In a world where even early-stage companies are generating a global client base, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that hiring is an intensely local and intensely personal experience. In that respect, your tech scale-up is a lot more like those Carp Road businesses than you may think.
Don’t just post and pray – add more ‘Apply within’ to your hiring strategy to generate an emotional response, and real connections with the people you need.