There is good news, bad news, and better news for Maine small business. Spoiler alert: the better news is Maine employers are successfully using Portland radio to engage, recruit, and retain their best new employees.
The good news: the U.S. economy added 252,000 new jobs in December. According to the Labor Department, this caps a 12-month stretch of job growth unmatched since 1999, according to the Labor Department.
The bad news: Maine small businesses are having a hard time competing for qualified and skilled employees. In a recent article in Forbes, management consultant Dan Schwabel said, "If you ask any HR executive what their biggest challenges are, the skills gap is typically unanimously noted. I’ve been paying close attention to this trend over the past few years and the gap is actually widening instead of closing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there were 4.7 million job openings in June and more than half of employers say that they can’t find qualified candidates. This issue will progress until the college curriculum aligns with the current job marketplace. This year, we found that only 2% of companies are recruiting liberal arts majors but schools still offer those degrees. Companies need to start working with colleges so that students get the necessary skills to fill the gap."
60% of All Small Business Owners Have The Same Problem
Currently, there are 44,292 people in Maine actively looking for work, but employers in the state still complain that they can't find qualified workers to fill their open positions. This is reflective of a recent survey by staffing resources giant Robert Half that revealed that 60% of all small business owners in America face the same problem.
Case in point. A story in The Bangor Daily News described the frustration of Maine Machine Products Company in South Paris. According to the BDN, when a customer contracts with the company to manufacture parts for anything from microwaves and airplanes to drilling systems and defense technology, machinists are the ones who make them. Without skilled workers, the business couldn’t stay afloat.
“They’re craftsmen,” said human resources manager Erika Douglass. “Someone just off the street cannot walk in and do what they do. They’re skilled, educated, very detail-oriented individuals. It’s an art. It’s definitely not anyone-can-do-this.”
The Best Employees Are Already Working...For Someone Else
The good news for companies like Maine Machine Products is that qualified, skilled employees are already working. The bad news, those skilled workers are working for some other company. The worse news, these skill-rich candidates probably aren't necessarily looking to change jobs. These coveted workers are called PASSIVE JOB SEEKERS. The best news: There is a way to reach the passive job seeker: it's not newspaper, and it's not job boards. It's radio recruitment advertising.
To compel passive job seekers to switch companies, recruiters must find a way to talk to them. In the past, this could be done via display ads in local newspapers. But this tactic is now next to impossible. According to research company Media Audit, only 8.2% of newspaper readers ever open the classified section. And since overall newspaper circulation is precipitously eroding, the chances of a target candidate seeing a display ad is slim. The circulation of Maine's Portland Press Herald/Sunday Telegram is emblematic of this decline, losing almost 35% of its audience since 2007.
Online Job Boards Do Not Attract Qualified Candidates
Peter Capelli, a management professor at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania, told CBS Money Watch about a recent online posting for an engineering job. The post generated 29,000 responses. The company concluded, however, that none of the applicants had the necessary qualifications to fill the job. YIKES! Gabriel Shaoolian, chief executive of Blue Fountain Media, a Web design and marketing company with 85 employees in New York, told the New York Times that he has 10 openings right now because his company could not find enough highly qualified people with technical backgrounds. To fill those jobs, Mr. Shaoolian said his company had used online job boards like Monster.com and Craigslist over the last two years, but found the experience frustrating because most of the applicants were unqualified. “It was catastrophically bad,” Mr. Shaoolian said. In both cases, online job boards like Monster and Craig's List attract low-value, active job seekers.
Radio Recruitment Works For Maine Small Business
Research from International Demographics reveals that employers are 31% more likely to reach the highly-qualified passive job seekers on the radio than in newspaper classifieds. And radio is 40% more likely to reach passive job seekers than internet job sites like monster.com or indeed.com. Wow!
Small businesses who use radio advertising to recruit and hire qualified candidates are finding great success. "It was actually one of the smartest moves we made," says Ron LaFlamme, Transportation Manager at Hannaford Transportation. Doug Martin, President of W.H. Demmons agrees, "Newspaper ads didn't really do a lot for us. Online ads have been working a little bit. When we started on the radio we got a fairly quick response."
The ability of radio to reach qualified job candidates in Maine embraces every type of industry and small business including manufacturing, retail, sales, construction, and accounting. Jeffery Verrill, Executive Vice President of Salt Associates, turned on the radio to recruit disability claim associates with at least two years of experience. After the first week of the campaign, Jeffery said the results were, "Dynamite! We got 12 responses. Three or four were qualified and we are expecting more." Terry Skillin, owner of Skillins Greenhouses, said he experienced similar success using radio. "It was a three day campaign with amazing results."
Doug Martin finds one other advantage of using radio as a recruitment tool. He says, "We call them recruitment ads, but they do accomplish more than recruiting. They get our name out in the community and that's very beneficial for us."