(By Laurie Kahn) Radio Ink, congratulations on serving the radio industry for 25 years! Media Staffing Network is right on your heels, celebrating our 25th in 2018.
So much has changed since we started our businesses. While some say “radio is dead,” we all know better. Radio is still exciting, fun, and, most importantly, relevant.
With the many changes radio has seen over the last 25 years, one thing has remained constant: To be successful, you need to have the right people in place. While it may be getting more challenging to find, hire, engage, and retain the superstars you need, it is still doable with the right tools.
Compared to how we in radio recruited 25 years ago, it is a totally different game today. Consolidation changed how we do business; with multiple platforms and technologies, our jobs are vastly different than when most of us started, so the needed skills have changed. With a shortage of skilled workers and new generations with less loyalty, we find ourselves challenged to hire the best talent and to keep them engaged and productive during their tenure, which can be expected to be around three to four years.
We want to see radio continue to grow, evolve, and be considered a great career choice.
Here are 25 tips to help you stay on top when it comes to talent acquisition and engagement.
- Establish a team accountable for recruiting, onboarding, and engagement. They need to have specific goals and commit the time to put together and monitor the program. This should be a regular conversation of department heads and corporate, as it is one of the most important aspects of a company today. “I don’t have time to recruit” is not going to fly anymore. The “talent team” needs to build a proactive strategy, versus the traditional reactive one, where managers don’t take the time to recruit until they have an opening. Not having a bench of talent is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome for most employers.
- Include recruitment in your budget, with realistic numbers. If you need to hire for multiple positions throughout the year, have the financial resources available; it does cost money to successfully recruit! Think about marketing, job postings, assessments, entertainment, and outside resources to add to your budget. There may even need to be signing bonuses to land the big talent!
- Review your mission statement. Does it accurately reflect your company today versus when it was founded? Does it encourage teamwork, community support, honesty, and values? If it’s not updated and accurate, it’s time to rethink.
- Consider your benefits. Are they competitive with other companies and industries in your market? This is an area where you can share information in community networking groups or during informational interviews to gain a stronger understanding of what it will take to hire the superstars. Is your vacation policy generous? Many workers today, and especially those for tomorrow, are very concerned with having a well-balanced life. Waiting 15 years for that third week of vacation will not be attractive and can hurt your recruiting efforts. In fact, many companies offer commission-based sellers unlimited time off if goals are met. That’s a great incentive to offer. Review the cost of insurance, which is a huge attraction for most workers today, to offer a well-rounded plan for both individuals and families.
- Find out what your reputation is in the community and industry. Google your name, your managers’ names, and your company to see if any disgruntled employees or past employees have posted bad reviews, and if you find them, work on getting them down. It can be done. Build a reputation for being trustworthy, fair, and honest and for being a strong coach. Be known as a supportive leader who wants to help the team versus just telling them what to do.
- Visit your website like it’s your first visit and you don’t know anything about the company. Potential job seekers will do their homework and want information about your company, your mission, how you treat employees, what unique perks or benefits you have, growth potential, and why they should want to work for you. Share how you serve the community, as this is very important to many millennials. Keep the information updated and current at all times.
- Add a career page to your website, and use it to not only list your open positions but to sell the visitor on what a great employer you are. Help them want to work with you! Include testimonials from happy employees and pictures from company events, and use videos for more impact.
- Build detailed and updated job profiles that accurately reflect the job, the expectations from management, needed skills or expertise, etc., so there are no surprises after the hire. Think about why other people who started with the company have not succeeded, and correct so future hires are more educated.
- Build an interviewing game plan to work interested candidates through as quickly as possible. There is competition to hire, and snoozing may end up in losing.
- Educate your hiring team to understand “passive” candidates are preferable to job seekers who are applying for open jobs, who may not be the caliber that most companies want to hire. Passive candidates need to be handled differently than job seekers, so invest in training to better understand the process.
- Institute a referral program. It is one of the most successful ways to recruit.
- Look at your office space. Is it clean, organized, and updated? Does it need a coat of paint? New carpet? How about a good cleaning? People want to come to work in an inviting environment, and it increases productivity.
- Build a “team of individuals” versus just a team. Encourage brainstorming, feedback, and working together in an environment that is motivating, fun, and successful — but remember, each member of the team may need to be motivated differently, so recognize and embrace that.
- Set up and update social media pages. Share your good news, your community outreach, and your fun stuff so people in the community see why they should consider working for you!
- Brag about your company, your outstanding staff, awards that someone has received, and how you have helped a nonprofit or those affected by a disaster. We often take what we do for granted, but it is important to share with your community. Nominate staff members, when appropriate, for industry awards, and make a big deal when they are finalists.
- Get to know the companies in your market that employ the type of people you need. Forget about raiding the competition; look for individuals who are well respected, are hungry, have strong local contacts, and can learn to sell your products. Find out how those companies compensate and keep people.
- Create a pipeline of “target hires,” much like you would set up a list of targeted accounts who should be working with your stations. Keep track of these people, reach out, and build a relationship so when they are ready for a career change or you have an opening, you are top of mind. Keep track of when you reach out and the next steps on your pipeline.
- Get real about compensation. Forget about hiring someone with a 90 day-guarantee — it won’t work, and you won’t attract the level of people you need. Even a recent grad will not consider this type of plan, and you’re wasting your time and money. Create a program that offers security to pay their monthly bills while they are in training and building their list; this should take close to a year for new business development. But don’t just hand over that money; have measurable goals for them to reach on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis so you can monitor how engaged they are and if they are on the path to moving onto a more commission-driven plan.
- Invest in a training program that educates the new hire on how to sell radio. It’s great to have an overall sales training program for all levels of sellers, but when someone new starts, they need to learn the language of radio and how to sell it. People are expected to be in jobs only three or four years, so it is crucial to have the right training in place to ramp them up as quickly as possible.
- Consider working with a personality-profiling program to better know the potential candidate and how to best train and manage them if they join your team. But please know that any hiring-assessment tool should only be 30-35 percent of the hiring decision!
- Once someone has accepted the offer, don’t stop selling them. Too many people get cold feet after they say yes and don’t actually start. The market manager should send a heartfelt note upon acceptance, welcoming them. Send a welcome gift — it could be flowers, a spa certificate, logoed items from your inventory. Something that shows you have paid attention to what is important to them and that you care. Don’t forget the spouses and kids!
- Have a plan for onboarding a new hire. The hiring manager should be there to welcome them and introduce them to the team. The manager should have a game plan for the first day, week, month, 60 days, and 90 days, in addition to year one.
- Confirm each day what the new person has learned, what is scaring them, and their level of engagement. It’s hard to find and hire, so once it’s done, keep in close touch to ensure their transition is successful.
- Do exit interviews with those who leave, whether voluntarily or by your choice. Find out what their challenges were and what could be done better. Ask for direct feedback to gather information on whether the job profile was accurate, if the managers were helpful in their getting to their goals, and why they are leaving.
- Most importantly, know that the task of attracting, hiring, and retaining top employees is not impossible. It is just an area that hasn’t been a major focus for companies in the past — but definitely needs to be one for the future.
Laurie Kahn is the president and founder of Media Staffing Network. She has worked with media companies since 1993 helping them hire top managers and sellers.