— July 16, 2019
The best public relations (PR) professionals are problem-solvers.
No one needs problem-solving now like human resources (HR).
As a community, it got too comfortable after a decade’s long employers’ market. It became conditioned to passively wait for candidates to apply while forgetting how to talent hunt.
It became over-reliant on technology tools to screen human resources with keywords. At the same time, positions have become infinitely more complicated, and the lexicon to describe desirable skills evolved rapidly.
Now, the unemployment rate is the lowest we’ve seen in nearly 20 years. Talent is scarce.
The economy “smashed” expectations by creating 224,000 jobs in June 2019.
PR isn’t a panacea. But there are some things good PR can do to help the HR team – and by extension the business.
1) Host a job conference for candidates.
An open house can serve as a recruiting event. There’s a clear benefit for the employer, but what’s the benefit to talent in a market that’s 96% employed? Lots of companies host open houses, which means another one is more of the same in a sea of sameness.
Instead, transform your open house into an event. Put together an agenda, complete with sessions and a keynote speaker. If you are trying to hire developers, find a speaker developer would want to hear from. If you are trying to hire salespeople, find a top-notch sales leader.
Another approach is to invite local leaders from government and associations like the local chamber or technology association. The likelihood they accept an invitation improves if the event is planned in advance…and they have the opportunity to say a few words to attendees.
For sessions, think about the other things job seekers might need. Have professionals on hand to review resumes or LinkedIn profiles and give attended tips for improvement. Give break out sessions on networking strategies, interview skills and career planning.
Additional considerations include, catering, hire a photographer, sharing photos on social media in real-time. If your speakers have a published a book keep them around after the talk to autograph copies, or even give a few away in a raffle.
The PR tie-in is natural – you can and should invite local reporters, bloggers and influencers. They’ll have access to leaders and good event makes a solid news peg – especially one where your organization is doing something different to attract talent. It’s worth putting a little paid spend to boost links to announcements, invitations and blog posts with targeted social media advertisements.
2) Guerilla marketing for recruiting talent.
One of the more creative ideas I’ve seen could have been a page from the book Guerilla Marketing. A former employer hired a food truck, parked it downtown, and bought a free lunch for anyone that handed over a resume. Importantly, the food truck was strategically located within walking distance to a large company with employees our company liked to poach.
A team of recruiters also worked the event. They handed out branded goodies and chatted up those standing in line. Sure, some people came just for the free food, but the event also attracted talent that’s gainfully employed…but open to new opportunities.
The media tie-in is obvious. It also helped that event was walking distance from the offices of the local paper. A full-page advertisement in that same paper couldn’t have hurt.
The unusual story angle and visual nature of the story – as unemployment falls, businesses turn to unconventional methods for attracting talent – could also be tempting for local broadcast news.
It’s worth noting, broadcast stories, rare as they are for businesses, are like a giant shot of motivation and internal buzz. Employees go home to friends and family that mention they saw their employer on the news.
3) Hack-a-thons and talent shows.
Technology companies often put on hack-a-thons internally, but doing it externally has potential too. People love to show off their talent, and an event that offers both financial incentive (think prizes) and recognition among peers, is magnetic.
Certainly, there’s a heavy lift that goes into planning one of these, but once you get one done, you have a little playbook for repeating it annually, bi-annually or even quarterly. The benefits are cumulative – it works like compound interest in a 401k.
You can always flip this around and provide training too. Put together a training package, open to the public, around the skill set your business is seeking to hire. This works for technical and non-technical skills alike.
Thinking Creatively HR Challenges
These ideas are all suggestive –you can easily modify them to suit your organization:
- Don’t have the budget to pull a big event off by yourself? Try partnering with non-competitive businesses in your local area to share resources. If several businesses are involved, you also boost your news value.
- Permitting in your city doesn’t provide an ideal spot for a food truck? Try approaching a pizza place that’s strategically located.
- Lack the resources to put a skill showcase together? Try forming your own networking event or sponsoring an existing event.
There’s a way to get this done if it solves a real problem for your business. These examples demonstrate how PR and HR align their goals to help the company.
Note: A version of this post was previously published on Sword and the Script: 3 Creative Ways Public Relations can Partner with Human Resources and Recruiting to Attract Talent
Image credit: Unsplash