Every recruiter would like to say they are sourcing for a Best Place to Work organization.
It’s a great opening line to most candidates, and a good conversation starter. You know what I’m talking about — it’s the “We have been a best place to work for the past three years” line.
It doesn’t matter if it is the annual Fortune magazine Best Companies to Work For, or a regional “Best Place” list; being able to say you are on one of those lists creates an impression — even when it is not always deserved.
I have worked for two businesses that have made major lists.
One was questionably deserving, and outside of a good PTO policy and the ability to flex from home, it was anything but a Best Place business, although it was also far from the worst. But, we milked our award for a couple of years when recruiting new candidates. It was worth the cost of the application, for sure.
But what about the 90 percent of businesses and workplaces that don’t make a “Best Place” list?
A few may be deserving and a few just don’t care. That leaves a lot of organizations in the runner-up category, and maybe, just maybe, at the bottom of the barrel, too. I worked for one organization that could have won a Worst Place to Work award. They also paid very well, so I took comfort and solitude in my pay check every two weeks.
If you’re a recruiting executive, you must compensate when you’re not a “Best Place” and maybe even a “Bad Place” to work. Outwardly, folks don’t always like to admit they work for a bad place. For recruiting teams, there is a balance between being honest and spinning a conversation, and, being totally honest when recruiting for a difficult environment.
Occasionally, a recruiter will just call it as they see it.
I went on an interview a few years back for a head of HR role at a major retailer. The recruiter told me that it was a tough place to work — long hours, highly political, and lots of yellers and screamers. But she also said this: If you can make an impact for the better, you will be a hero.
4 keys for recruiters to focus on
That’s the mark of a smart recruiter, because she was honest AND posed the career opportunity at the same time.
If you’re a recruiter faced with the daunting task of filling positions at a less then “Best Place to Work” organization, here are a few things to lean on as you’re wooing candidates:
Focus on the mission of the organization and point to the value created by the work. When I worked for a Charter School with some challenges, we always went back to student success and outcomes as a selling point.
Point out the opportunity to learn from the challenges.
Focus on the notion that they can build skills by working in a challenging environment. This is another selling point because sometimes, extra work and opportunities are created by the workplace problems.
Making internal changes for the better, especially for mid to senior level folks, is another benefit to pitch when recruiting them.
If you’re an applicant, make sure you do your due diligence and don’t ignore the warning signs.
If you’re a recruiter, make sure you give a balanced picture by pointing out challenges and shortcomings.
Yes, even the very best companies have their issues.
And always remember: most places are not the “Best” — even if they think they are.