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20 Surefire Ways

To Find Outstanding Employees in 2021

20 Surefire Ways to Find Employees For Your Business

In A Crazy Tight Market in 2021

Every small business owner I speak to is talking about the shortage of good workers. In fact, many are willing to take not-so-good workers as the supply has completely dried up.


The problem is not going away. While there are some employable folks on the sidelines due to the stimulus $300 unemployment checks, their eventual return to the labor pool won’t put a dent in the demand.


As a business owner, you can’t grow without more people. In some cases, you are losing trained staff to better offers. And to make matters worse, most small or even moderate size companies don’t have strategies in place to find employees, even in a normal market.


Please keep in mind that some of the following will also help you retain current workers. Providing a great working environment with solid pay and benefits will help you keep your workers, when others are losing theirs.

Following are methods which will NOT be used by competition for the employees you need. These strategic concepts are rarely taught or listed on other resources you Google. These are the methods refined over almost half a century to find employees and keep them through good times and bad.

1.  Always Start With Your Own Staff. Whom do they know that might be available? Your employees are not going to suggest someone they know is going to hurt the company. Their own reputation will be on the line. Your people are very likely to know friends, associates, and family members who are either not working or who are looking to change positions. Only a small percentage of such workers are sophisticated in their search methods and are overwhelmed with the current online approaches.

2.  Pay Your Employees For Finding Someone. Nobody has better employees than In-N-Out Burger. Most are hired through employee recommendations. They pay for each employee hired, and they pay another bonus if their friend lasts with the company for 90 days. You can be sure that if you offer $50 for hire and another $100 for someone who works out, you’ll have a crackerjack scouting team working for you.

3.  Pay More Than the Going Rate. Theoretically, you are already paying as much as you can afford. But maybe not. I have always paid above market. In-N-Out pays above market. You get better people. Better people who are paid more than the market stay longer and are generally better at their job. They are more likely to be on time and not always taking max time off. Paying $2 over the market will cost you $4000 a year. It is very likely to be worth it.

4.  Combine #2 and #3. Think about it. Give your employees the ammo they need to find someone. In Southern California right now, you can’t find employees for under $17 an hour, but around $17, you start to find a few. Send your employees out with a $20 offer and you’ll find plenty of solid employees.

5.  Supplier Salespeople. Next to your employees, the safest recommendations will come from the salespeople who call on you. They are generally in the know about others in the area who are thinking of changing jobs. They are also going to be sure they only suggest strong candidates. Is it possible to entice them with a bit of a bonus? Maybe. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

6.  Creative Benefits. For over a decade, employees making over $50,000 a year have been enticed by the big tech companies with offers of free meals, after office parties, cool break rooms, and more. Now add to the list, remote working or hybrid remote/office, flex time, creative vacation plans, and more. These are added to all the standards: medical, dental, vision, prepaid legal, stock options, pension matching, paid family leaves, and childcare. What can you offer that is better than expected for the level of employee you are trying to hire?

7.  Hire Multiple Part-time Workers. There are plenty of individuals looking for part-time work. In addition to students, parents of small children, and other caretakers, you now have many folks who want two jobs in order to hit their goals.

8.  Remote and Gig Workers. Which jobs in your company could be done by someone working from home, either someone in your home country or someone offshore? Can you shuffle existing work differently among your on-site crew, so that you free up the kinds of things that can be done remotely? Using offshore remote workers or gig workers (like on Fiverr or UpWork) is often substantially less expensive than domestic workers, and there are plenty of these workers available with outstanding skills. See our article on Gig workers here.

9.  High Schools, Trade Schools, and Junior Colleges. It is unusual for companies to be well-aware of hiring folks from colleges and universities. In this market, those young people are under huge demand. However, you can get great potential employees starting at the Summer after 10th grade, and after. Since you will be their first job, they don’t have the bad habits from working for others. They are commonly eager and they are high tech. Don’t forget the private and religious high schools. They are less likely to have been approached.

10.  Federal, State, County, and City Programs for Hard-to-Place Workers. To be honest, I rarely had much luck going this way. However, that was a long time ago. I suspect that many employers see this as a last resort to find employees. However, there are solid workers who have fallen on hard times. Start with the unemployment office, but let them know you might be interested in ex-cons, difficult to place, physically challenged, mentally or emotionally challenged, etc. Depending on the size and nature of your business, you might have one or more positions that could be handled by someone with hearing or sight issues, or even someone who is trying to rehab.

11.  Employment Agencies and Temp Agencies. My companies used temp agencies for almost all new hires. You pay a premium to test out their temps, then you can choose to hire them after a trial period. Alternatively, you can pay a single fee for agencies to headhunt specific positions. Most companies are not willing to pay these premiums, but most companies don’t take into consideration the true total cost to hire a new employee. When you start adding it up, you will likely not spend much more for an agency, and you’re likely to get much better employees.

12.  Teachers, Professors, and Deans. Elon Musk famously hires many of his top engineers through relationships with professors or deans in engineering departments of top schools. You can do the same thing with any school. Don’t wait for students to start looking on indeed. Build relationships with the right educators who can spot the best and brightest and send them to you before they start the job hunt.

13.  Internships. Many students must do some real-life training to graduate. You can sign up for internship programs at local colleges and universities and some high schools. While it is possible to find unpaid interns, it is not common anymore. You may be able to pay minimum wage and test a potential future employee through an internship. If you want the best and brightest offer a great package of money and training. 

14.  Signing Bonuses. While this used to be more common for lawyers and MBAs, a recent billboard in Florida offered $50 for potential employees to merely apply and interview. In this market, you could easily offer a $500 signing bonus and save more than that in expenses to hire in a more traditional way.

15.  Signage Can Work. Do you have traffic at your location? Put up a sign. But make it more than help wanted. Top pay? Amazing benefits? Is flextime possible? What can you say to entice the unemployed and even the already employed to consider a job?

16.  Social Media Advertising. Do you already have a Facebook, Instagram, or other social media manager or outside agency? Have them work on setting up an audience based on keywords, interests, and location. Now run an advertisement. Again, unique and compelling.

17.  Waiters, Retail Clerks, Auto Salespeople, and more. Keep your eyes open. As you are interacting in the community you might have an interaction with someone who looks like a good potential hire. Leave your card and ask them to meet you for coffee.

18.  Your Friends, Associates, Family Members, and other Business Owners. You’ve got a network. Use it. Put up the job offer on your personal Facebook page or your business page. Then ask your employees to share it. These shared posts are spread far and wide and could easily reach people neither you nor your employees would otherwise think of.

19.  Indeed, LinkedIn and Similar Online Job Posting Apps Absolutely Work To Find You, Employees. I list them at the end because every other employer will be using these methods. So, this could be very slow going at this particular time.

20.  Drastic. Move your location to a high unemployment area or out of the US entirely. I said it was drastic.

Many top business gurus contend that your employees are the most critical aspect of your business. Count me in that group. It is commonly thought that customers are more important, but I personally count customers as less important than employees or suppliers. There are plenty of customers if you have a winning offer and good marketing to spread the word and close the deal. Good solid employees are hard to find and harder to keep. Good hunting!


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