By Bridget McCrea

How to rev up your recruiting and hiring techniques in a tight labor market where Amazon plans to hire 40,000-50,000 employees in a single day.

Today's the day that Amazon wants to do something that few other companies would consider in the current labor market:  Hire 40,000 to 50,000 new full-time workers in a single day. According to CBS News, the e-tailing giant will offer jobs "on the spot" for those positions, with most of those jobs counting toward Amazon's previously announced goal of adding 100,000 full-time workers by mid-2018.

"The hiring spree is yet another sign of the company's growth at a time when traditional retailers are closing stores and cutting jobs," CBS reports in Amazon aims to hire thousands of workers in a single day. Tuna Amobi, an equity analyst with CFRA Research in New York, told CBS that the mass hiring is likely due to a shortage of employees at Amazon and to the company's rapid growth.

"I think what is even more remarkable is that a lot of these employees are going to be full time. You know, usually, we don't see that many full-time employees get hired by any one company," Amobi said in an interview with CBS News. "It also speaks to Amazon's strategic vision as to its underlying confidence that its business is going to continue to grow." 

Hitting Its Targets
The question is, how is Amazon going to hit its hiring goal in a job market where hiring even a handful of skilled workers has become somewhat of a wild goose chase? According to a recent Bloomberg report, the lack of skilled workers is threatening to curtail both profits and growth. Citing numbers from July's National Association for Business Economics (NABE) report, Bloomberg said that 34 percent of firms have had trouble hiring skilled employees over the last three months (up from 27 percent in January). 

Peter Ho, a former recruiting firm executive and current owner of MultiplyIQ in New York, calls Amazon an "interesting case" because of its sheer hiring volume and company size. To achieve its hiring goals, for example, the company utilizes Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) services (where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider) from Monster and other firms. 

"Amazon uses RPO because it doesn't make sense to build up a large, internal recruiting organization; it's not their core competency," says HO. "Further, the rate of hiring may not sustain forever. As such, outsourcing their talent acquisition function through RPO is a smart approach."

As part its one-day hiring campaign, Amazon plans to make full-time job offers on the spot instead of using traditional means of vetting, interviewing, and selecting new workers. While this may work at a huge company where a certain percentage of employee attrition is expected, it may not necessarily be a good approach for the typical electrical distribution firm.

"It is obviously critical to hire the right employee, but even if the employer is very thorough, there is still a meaningful chance that a new hire may not fit the organization's need," Ho points out. As such, making quick hiring decisions can work well in some cases as it provides an opportunity for both sides to learn about each other without prolonging the hiring cycle. 

"Making fast hires also reduces the opportunity cost of missed sales opportunities in a robust business environment," says Ho. "Some companies encourage new employees to leave quickly if they do not find the company to be the right fit for them (and pay a bounty). Obviously, this type of approach will only work for companies with a certain culture and mindset."

The Job Fair Isn't Dead Yet
The first thing electrical distributors can take away from Amazon's single-day hiring spree is that the traditional job fair isn't dead yet. In fact, Ira S. Wolfe, president at Success Performance Solutions and author of Recruiting in the Age of Googlization, says face-to-face meetings and interviews still work. "It's not just Indeed and Facebook that people are recruiting on," says Wolfe. "There's still a place for job fairs at local colleges, open houses, company tours, and other in-person recruiting strategies."

While the typical distributor isn't going to get 40,000+ attendees at a job fair or open house, Wolfe says taking a few hours out of the day to show potential recruits around your facility and talk to them about the job opportunities could be fruitful. Even if 10 people show up, and if two of them decide to come onboard, the event will more than pay for itself. Don't forget to promote the event—in local publications, on social media, or on your firm's website—for best results, says Wolfe.

"People may be attracted to a big-name company that everyone knows," says Wolfe, "but in the end everyone wants a nice place to work, a good corporate culture, and to know that they 'belong' to something bigger than themselves."

Revamping Your Web Presence   
Wolfe encourages distributors to revamp their website landing (or welcome) pages to entice future employees. Add a simple job application to the page, create a 30-second video introducing them to your company, and have a few current employees speak on that video. "These simple steps can go a long way in helping to establish your employer brand," says Wolfe.

When asked about Amazon's "on the spot" approach, Wolfe says distributors can definitely borrow a page from the e-tailer's playbook, even if that just means "speeding up" a lengthy, arduous hiring process. "There is no reason that you can't interview, take people on a tour, and come up with a job offer on the same day," says Wolfe, who notes that the job offer in question could be contingent upon reference checks, background checks, and other factors. "The typical reason that companies lose top applicants—or don't even get people to apply—is because potential new hires wind up in a 'void,' and no one ever follows up with them."

Wolfe sees the online application as an area where small to midsized firms across all industries could be doing a much better job. "Most online applications are too complicated and take too long to complete, and many of them can't even be viewed and/or filled out on a mobile device," says Wolfe. "By coming up with a short, mobile-friendly application process, distributors can quickly figure out who's interested in their job openings and then reach out to those prospective employees."

Speeding Up the Hiring Process
Linda D. Henman, Ph.D., of Henman Performance Group in Chesterfield, Mo., says distributors should remember that Amazon's massive hiring spree will probably attract a high volume of unskilled laborers who probably wouldn't be a good fit for a distributorship anyway. "Electrical distributors shouldn't come to the conclusion that they can use the same type of 'speed' mentality and go out and hire large volumes of people at once," says Henman. "In most cases, managers, sales reps, and other distribution personnel have to be experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable enough to get out and talk to customers in the field."

But that doesn't mean distributors can't improve and "speed up" their hiring processes to meet the demands of the modern workforce, says Henman. "Most companies are too slow when it comes to hiring," she acknowledges, "and mainly because they let human resources (HR) create massive processes and hurdles that take forever to get through."

While these arduous processes may be in place for a reason, Henman says today's skilled, talented employees don't just sit around waiting for job offers. "If your HR process was created back when unemployment rates hovered in the 10-15 percent range," says Henman, "it's definitely time to rethink them."

In assessing Amazon's huge hiring push, Henman says distributors need to think carefully before undertaking an "on the spot" hiring event that results in a very low retention rate. In other words, where a huge e-tailer may factor in a 10 percent attrition rate (i.e., 400 of the 40,000 new hires are expected to leave within a certain period of time), the 50-person distributorship that has 10 managers would be negatively impacted if even one of those managers were to leave prematurely.

"If you get even one of those management positions wrong—and if that person had customer, bank, or supplier relationships—it will hurt," says Henman. "However, if Amazon screws something up—even a management position—there are thousands of managers there, so there probably wouldn't even be a little ripple in that situation."

It's all in Your Employer Brand
Ultimately, Ho says that in a competitive hiring environment, having a strong "employer brand" in place can mean the difference between finding the best possible new hire matches and settling for anyone who sends in a resume.

"Employer reviews and transparency data (i.e., information about wages, working conditions, etc.) are becoming important assets in attracting new hires," says Ho. "Pay attention to what your employees are saying about you on employer review sites such as Glassdoor, Kununu, and others," says Ho. "Make a point to communicate your employer brand and culture actively even if you may not be hiring today; it takes time to build a brand asset."

 

SIDEBAR: Ready to Act Quickly?

This tED article prompted Ira S. Wolfe to develop a short video that demonstrates how even the smallest distributorship can ramp up its hiring activities and make faster decisions in today's tight labor market. "The video doesn't answer the question of how to attract enough applicants, which goes back to employer branding," says Wolfe, "but once someone applies, distributors need to be able to act quickly."

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McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.