Recruiting in a full employment market

There's an old definition that says, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

I think “doing the same thing over and over“ describes the way most sales leaders are recruiting in an environment that is totally different than what most of us have ever operated in before.

Here are four things on which I think we all can agree:

  1. With unemployment at historic lows, everyone who wants a job has one. That means the only people available are those to whom we can offer a better situation than the one they have now.
  2. The TV business isn’t the “hot” business anymore. Most potential hires don’t see us as progressive at digital as we really are.
  3. Every sales manager I’ve spoken with this year ranks recruiting as their #1 challenge. That’s why, as Angela Betasso (JDA’s new CEO) and I are planning Boot Camp, we’re spending more time than ever on how to find and keep great people.
  4. One of the scary consequences of weak recruiting is that we keep people on our teams who are really under-performers. The business is getting harder and our teams need to be better. Yet, due to recruiting challenges, we keep people who need to leave because having someone below average is better than having no one!

If you agree with those four comments, doesn’t it require us to approach recruiting in a completely different way? I think so.

Here are 5 major things you can do that can make a difference in your recruiting effort.

#1 – We MUST stop recruiting only when we have an opening. That means that every sales leader should have time scheduled on their calendar EVERY week that is spent on recruiting.

#2 – There must be accountability to make sure this happens because in the craziness of being a sales manager, day-to-day recruiting can be deferred. It’s in the category of “important but not urgent,” so I can skip it when things are crazy. But things are crazy every week, so…

This means that every General Manager and GSM/DOS should have agreed-upon recruiting activity standards and performance against those standards should be reviewed each month. (An aside… I would have recruiting be part of the bonus plan of every GSM/DOS, just as I would have KEY account touches be on the annual goal plan of every General Manager) 

#3 – Be very clear that there are two parts of the recruiting process. Part 1 is you becoming convinced the potential hire will be great. That’s important. But once you’re sold on them, treat Part 2 like it’s the biggest sales presentation you've ever made. Prepare a formal presentation, including testimonials, benefits, training opportunities, career growth considerations, etc. If you’ve got incredible production or digital tools that can help them make a difference for clients… sell that. If you believe that your success as a leader is tied to the quality of the people you attract, then make sure you SELL them as effectively as if you were presenting to a huge business prospect.

#4 – I’ve always said that your culture is your #1 recruiting tool. Today, that’s more important than ever. On the Link Staffing website they say it well:

When the economy is at or near full employment, hiring managers and recruiters are faced with a tight labor market. With the majority of skilled talent already employed, the competition for existing job seekers is fierce. It also means many people who are currently employed have their radar up for better opportunities.

Do people in the market see working at your place as fun? Does your station provide resources and training they can’t get anywhere else? Does your building and office space attract people? In a full employment market, potential hires need to see your station and its culture as clearly better than where they’re working now. If they don’t feel that way, why change? And, since many of your highest opportunity hires are likely already working in media in your market, then looking at the buzz about your team, company, and leaders is huge.

#5 – Are you building a story about your culture on Facebook and LinkedIn? Many potential candidates may never see your building, but they’re likely connected with many on your team on social media. What’s your social media presence, and does it create a sense that you’re a cool place to work? I’ve watched one group in a Midwestern state do this so effectively that I think it must be a great place to work. I don’t personally know any of their leaders, but I’m connected with them on social media and through their posts, see a culture that honors their people and is passionate about serving their community and clients. I want to work at a place like that. 

One caution. Create a culture before you start to brag about one. A lack of authenticity will hurt, not help.

These are just a few things to get you thinking. Our January Boot Camp is loaded with more ideas, as this is such a critical success issue to our future. I do know this… if we don’t change the way we’re recruiting, the challenges our sales departments are facing will likely only get worse.


Do you have Sales Managers who need to get better? I promise, we can help. We’ve designed our Sales Manager’s High Performance Boot Camp around how leaders can create a high-performance culture, recruit and retain superstars, and motivate their teams for extraordinary new business growth. A combination of real-world skills and world-class leadership and culture speakers. January 26-28, 2020 in Tampa (www.jimdoylebootcamp.com)