Every day that a "help wanted" sign hangs in the window of a Maine small business owner, the company loses productivity, customers, and money. In this era of full-employment, the number of days those jobs remain open has multiplied.
Maine small business owners like Debby Kieran of Union Farm Equipment recently told WCSH-TV, "If you go on the Maine job banks listing, there’s usually between 7,000 to 10,000 job listings. It's amazing." She said it recently took her company several years to hire two mechanics.
Maine companies of all sizes are feeling Ms. Kieran's labor pains. Carl Ward, CEO of Nickerson & O’Day Construction, explained to the Bangor Daily News that his firm needs workers of all types and will provide training for some of the jobs. “I’m about 20 people short right now and I can’t find them,” he says. “The unemployment is now below four percent, we have had quite an economic renaissance in the last eight years, and skilled construction workers are pretty hard to find.”
To overcome the recruitment challenges Maine's 97% employment rate has imposed on businesses, many recruitment professionals are turning to Portland radio. Not to post jobs, but to tell their stories.
It's these stories, not a list of qualifications and benefits, that are attracting qualified candidates.
Best Recruitment Practice: Show...Not Tell
In an article recently published by Forbes, recruitment expert Lars Schmidt observed, "Once solely the domain of marketing, storytelling is increasingly being adopted by corporate recruiting teams to help them hire more efficiently. Rather than telling candidates what it's like to work there, companies are showing them by finding new ways to share the employee experience."
"These narratives are revealing a more human side of the business," continues Mr. Schmidt. "They often go beyond this is what I do here, instead illuminating this is why I do it here."
Pratt & Whitney has been recruiting precision machinists, assemblers and inspectors at its jet engine plant in North Berwick, Maine by storytelling. A current ad on Portland radio, features a company engineer describing how he trusted engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney when he was in the air force flying re-fueling missions in KC-135 tankers. He goes on to say that employees of the company can look up at the sky when they see airplanes equipped with Pratt engines and then "nudge the person beside you, point, and say: I helped put that up there."
Best Recruitment Practice: Provide A Window Into Your Organization
Mr. Schmidt said, "These stories provide a window into an organization’s culture by highlighting individual employee stories, allowing candidates to get a feel for future colleagues. Job seekers are then able to make more informed decisions around whether those organizations and future co-workers align with their interests and aspirations."
UPS uses storytelling to recruit drivers. Here is an example of the story the company shares about one of their drivers who regularly delivered a special milk that was required by little boy on his route.
Maine business owners will notice that the radio ad for Pratt & Whitney and the UPS video do not feel like typical recruitment ads. They do not contain a laundry list of qualifications needed and benefits offered by the hiring companies. Mr. Schmidt says, recruitment efforts like this "provides a different lens through which job seekers can envision themselves (or not) working for your company. Some of these stories go beyond work, sharing insights into personal drivers and life experiences that shape employees."
Help Candidate To Taste The Rainbow
I like to think about this shift in recruitment strategies in terms of candy. Which would you rather do:
1. Eat a bag full of Sugar, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil; less than 2% of: Citric Acid, Tapioca Dextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Colors (Titanium Dioxide, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 6, ed 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1), Sodium Citrate, and Carnauba Wax
2. "Taste the Rainbow" in every bag of Skittles
Of course, both choices are the same. But, when presented with both options, I will respond to the second choice of every time. Why eat a bag full of things I don't understand when I can taste a rainbow instead.
So, which truck driving ad do you think a qualified prospect will respond to.
1. Need a class-A commercial drivers license with haz-mat endorsement. Ability to move and lift 55 pounds. Ability to stand during entire shift excluding meals and rest period. Ability to bend/twist at the waist and knees.
2. Make customers wishes come true.
I'm betting on #2. The story will win out!
Portland radio provides an excellent medium for recruiters to tell their stories. According to, Nielsen, 94% of any company's potential job candidates listen to radio each week. This is a far greater reach afforded by television, cable, smartphone apps, newspapers, or job boards. Additionally, a whole lot of story can be told within the 60-second confines of radio ad.
Special Opportunity For Maine Small Business Owners
More great advice for Maine small business owners:
- 3 Mistakes Maine Small Business Owners Make in Ads On Portland Radio
- The Beatles Teach Maine Small Business Owners About Radio Advertising
- Improve Employee Recruitment By Branding Your Maine Small Business
- Portland Radio: The Best Way For Maine Small Business To Reach Moms
- How Not To Waste Your Money Advertising On Portland Radio