While posting a job ad online can generate a ton of responses and likely lead to identifying potential candidates, collection agencies should be looking outside of the traditional hiring pipelines to identify the best possible talent, a panel of industry executives shared during a webinar last week.
The webinar, sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning, shared tips and ideas for hiring in a difficult labor market, such as the one that much of the country is currently experiencing, thanks to record-low unemployment rates. The executives did report a drop in the number of quality candidates they are seeing when posting for new jobs, which has also forced them to look at non-traditional methods to attract candidates.
One way to attract candidates that has worked at a couple of agencies is to use social media to promote open houses where interested candidates can tour a facility, learn more about a company, fill out applications. and be interviewed. The posts on Facebook or Instagram are not promoted or paid — the agencies rely on employees and others who like the companies to share the posts to promote them organically, and include testimonials from employees about the benefits of working at the company. Rather than paying to promote a post, the organic marketing route likely attracts friends, family and colleagues of current employees. One such promoted event attracted 93 potential job applicants at Wilber Group, said Cortney Fleming, the agency’s chief people officer.
To show the public — any of whom might be a potential job applicant — how much employees enjoy working at Wilber, the company promotes many public events, such as having employees walk in parades, Fleming said. “We want to show the community how happy our employees are,” she said.
Columbia Collectors has used the partnership route to help find new talent, said Ryan Wiswall, a vice president at the agency. The company has partnered with a local technical college to develop an internship program for IT jobs, some of whom have become full-time employees at the agency, Wiswall said. The college “has been a great resource for young candidates that could be hired on,” he said. “Our last three helpdesk positions have come from that resource.”
Wiswall said the agency has also formed alliances with other companies that can refer potential applicants to one another if those applicants are not a good fit.
A helpful tip Wiswall shared during the webinar was that he conducts every first interview over the phone, especially for collectors, so he can get a sense of an individual’s phone behaviors and talking patterns.
To attract the right kind of candidates and to make sure that they are being as transparent as possible, some agencies, like CBE Companies, are including salary and commission information in their job ads. The company has also added more information about the emphasis it places on its company culture to its job ads, to get as much positive information as possible into the hands of job candidates, said Barb Findley, a recruiting supervisor with the agency.
Even with the changes to the job ad, employee referrals continue to be one of the strongest sources of new job hires at CBE, Findley said. More than one-third of applicants who come via referrals are hired by the company, she said.
To tap into its emphasis on community, Wilber has started using a hashtag, #wilbercares, in all of its social media and job postings, so that when a candidate clicks on the hashtag, he or she can see all the good work the company does in the community, Fleming said.
“They are going to see how we approach our community,” she said. “How can we best attract people? By being in the areas where they are.”