Struggling to attract the right type of candidates to work at your company and keep them on staff once they have been there for a few years?

While this question comes up frequently, there is no easy answer. However, there are steps every company can take to attract and retain the most qualified and loyal employees.

STEP #1: ATTRACT THE RIGHT CANDIDATES. We all want to hire the ‘right’ candidates, but how do we find out who those people are? How do we get them in the door? How do we interview them? How do we convince them our company is the place for them?

  1. Do great work. Do award-winning work. The best talent will want to work on the best projects. The experienced candidates you want to attract to your company are already doing great work at their current employer – they are not going to leave to do work that is average. Graduates from respected programs – the young adults you want to hire – work on high level, detailed projects in school; they most likely will want to continue to work on these types of projects if possible.
  2. Know your audience. Veterans vs. newbies, Generation X vs. Generation Y. What’s important to one generation of folks may not be to another. Be prepared to communicate and interact with candidates of all ages and experience.
  3. Target young candidates and stay in touch. A 30 -interview with a college junior now could pay off big in five years when that same person is an experienced landscape professional and seeking a new position.
  4. Get involved. Significant involvement with local and national organizations such as NALP (National Association of Landscape Professionals) and ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) is key. Candidates should recognize you from your involvement. Don’t use these associations and organizations as a chance to recruit, but as a chance to show what is great about your company. Be positive, outgoing and welcoming. Leave a good impression – when those same people you meet at these events are looking for jobs, you want them to seek your company first.
  5. Embrace a feel-good culture. Everyone wants to feel good about the company for which they work. More than ever, candidates want to be part of team that supports community volunteerism and involvement. They want to be part of a company that places some attention on helping others in need.
  6. Maintain office and equipment. Well-kept and updated facilities and trucks/equipment make an impression. No one wants to drive to work in a nice vehicle and then jump into a piece of junk to drive to the jobsite.
  7. Provide benefits. Offer competitive compensation packages with good benefits, including health insurance.
  8. Be flexible and create hybrid positions; cater to a candidate’s skillset. Have someone skilled in design and estimating? Allow them to do both instead of pigeon-holing them into a design-only or estimating-only position. This applies to candidates, as well as existing employees.
  9. Think big. For smaller companies, work to create a high level of professionalism, which will make you seem “big.” Important pieces include: company handbook, job descriptions, career paths/ladders, etc.
  10. Get social. Put the time in to create and maintain a positive and current social media presence. This will become even more important in the future.
  11. Ensure you have competent front line “recruiters” and hiring managers. Don’t lose a great candidate because of a poor interview with an unqualified or inexperienced interviewer.

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