Best Recruiting Practices

Qualified applicants beating a path to your door? No? Then it might be time to re-think your recruiting game plan. The problem, as you have surely realized, is that most staffing companies do the same things to attract the same people. Unfortunately, some of the things you and your competitors are doing just aren’t working as well as they used to.

In a survey of staffing firms, the most popular recruiting tools (in order of preference) were:

  1. Classified Advertising
  2. Referrals
  3. Job Fairs
  4. Direct Recruiting

In areas where classified advertising becomes cost prohibitive, staffing services rely on other types of mass media such as outdoor (billboard, bus signage, etc.), radio, and yellow pages.

Despite the millions of dollars being spent on recruiting each year, many staffing services remain dissatisfied with their recruitment efforts. The few who are satisfied may have discovered the secret to greater success lies in taking advantage of every opportunity they can to market their service. To improve your recruiting success, test out as many of the following ideas as you can!


Quite simply, the easiest way to get a good referral is by being the best. Unfortunately, being the best is not that easy in today’s competitive market. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to be the best. Implement ideas that will make you a great service to work for. Whether it’s free computer training, resume-writing workshops, or employee happy hours once a quarter, do what it takes to get people excited about working for you.

The more benefits your employees realize, the more things they’ll have to tell potential applicants about you.

Of course, being a great place to work goes hand in hand with being a great company to do business with. Don’t forget your clients can be applicant referral sources too. While you can’t recruit directly from them, you can partner with them. Offer to help them place people who are leaving their organization, and ask them to refer any applicants they don’t hire for their openings. Just because they didn’t fit one organization doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be just right for another.

If you’re already one of the best staffing services to work for and your clients can’t say enough good things about you, but you still need more applicant referrals, then it’s time to get serious! Start by making referral bonuses meaningful-fifty dollars is a lot more enticing than fifteen! And, in the long run, the increased amount up front will pale in comparison to the long run revenue from a terrific temp.

If you’re ready to move beyond a simple bonus program, try some (or all) of the techniques outlined below.

Referral Recruiting

  • Give business cards to temporary employees. (Most office supply stores sell cards you can print on your own laser or ink jet printer.)
  • Enhance referral contests-spark interest by offering a “big” prize (such as a VCR, portable CD player, or dinner for two at a five star restaurant) based on the number of referrals.
  • Train temporaries to recruit. Teach them about the types of applicants you’re looking for, then provide an incentive plan to encourage their recruiting efforts.
  • Aggressively promote your bonus program. Creatively remind people that you’re looking for applicants-re-do your stationery, add paycheck stuffers or timesheet tear-out.
  • Call your temporaries after work. Ask how their assignment is going, thank them for their hard work, and remind them you’d appreciate referrals.
  • Offer a “hot job bounty” for key long-term or direct hire positions. Give a substantial bonus for referring the chosen candidate.
  • Develop relationships with people who can refer applicant. Regularly communicate with guidance counselors, career placement directors, training program coordinators, and anyone else who can send people your way.
  • Incent your “applicant influencers” to make referrals by instituting a bonus program for them.
  • Sponsor social events. Make temporary employees feel like an important part of your firm. Hold picnics, happy hours, pizza parties, etc. and encourage employees to bring along potential applicants. Or, use these events to reinforce your need applicants and ask your current employees for help.
  • Develop relationships with realtors, property managers, or others who may know recently transplanted spouses looking for work.

Other Ideas

  • Land a key client. Nothing attracts people more than the opportunity to work for the best employer in town. Sometimes your client list can be your best recruiting tool!
  • Get more clients! The more job openings you have and advertise for, the more people you’ll attract. Temporary employees want to work for companies that can give them a variety of interesting opportunities.
  • Extend registration hours. Be available to potential applicants outside of regular business hours, so people who are currently employed, or temping for another service, can register with you.
  • Open recruiting offices in convenient locations like malls, discount retailers and supermarkets.
  • Post job listings on college campuses, apartment complex laundry rooms, supermarket bulletin boards or anywhere else you can think of to attract the types of people you need.
  • Recruit on the internet-whether it’s your own web site or not, you’ll gain a lot of exposure for a low cost.
  • Go where the applicants are. Rent a motor home that you can drive to various sites during lunch, after hours, or on weekends.

No matter which practices you choose, keep in mind that the more you do the better results you’ll get.

Need Help? Look Behind Bars.

No, not your local drinking establishment. Adventurous businesses owners have discovered that inmates can be a great source of qualified labor in today’s tight applicant market. At first, the thought of hiring work-release prisoners is a little frightening. However, once companies begin to use inmates to supplement their staff, they realize they are just like everyone else. According to Andy Estoclet, president and CEO of Jacobs Trading Co., “There’s extraordinary talent within the prisons. It’s pretty phenomenal the talent that’s available to be tapped.”


Cook, Julie. “Prosperity’s Prisoners.” Human Resource Executive, June 18, 1999, pgs. 78-81. “If You Don’t See It, Ask for It.” Fast Company Magazine, October 1998, p. 162