What Is Your Captive's Story?

Businessperson writing "What is Your Story?"

October 16, 2019 |

Businessperson writing "What is Your Story?"

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

— Dr. Seuss, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut! (1978)

Captive.com readers may find it strange to see a quote by Dr. Seuss as the opening line to one of our articles. However, this quote is very telling. Reading widely introduces you to all sorts of facts that initially may seem irrelevant, but after a period of fermentation, these seemingly disparate facts become the basis for an essay. Such was the case with an October 8, 2019, Forbes.com post: "Successful Recruitment: It's All about Storytelling," by Kathleen Duffy Ybarra. It led us to ask: What is your captive's story?

Ms. Ybarra opens her post as follows.

Everyone loves a good story. It's what wins Pulitzer Prizes and Academy Awards, raises eyebrows and wine glasses at book clubs, and prompts smiles—and sometimes shivers—around the old campfire.

Storytelling should be front and center in how you attract the most qualified people to your business, whether you have an in-house HR [human resources] team or employ a recruitment firm. In these times of low unemployment, with the best employees planted firmly in the driver's seat, you need a well-crafted narrative with an attention-grabbing beginning, a page-turning middle and a brilliant end.

Almost 10 years ago, we published our first article on the coming shortage of employees and in the years since have continued to report on this issue. Many managers were initially skeptical about this "supposed" shortage. Too often in discussions, the response was "We are different, we have a deep pool of internal talent, it will never happen to us."

But history has shown demographics don't lie. Every day, 10,000 members of the baby boom generation turn 65 years old. The youngest baby boomers are now 55, with the oldest now into their 70s. As this "silver tsunami," as it has been coined, continues to engulf the workforce, companies are struggling to adapt. The captive industry is far from being immune from this onslaught, considering it came of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s contemporaneously with the boomer generation.

The Forbes article offers five steps to crafting a compelling story or narrative to get potential candidates interested in an organization.

1. The overarching company story. The author suggests creating a detailed form that serves as a road map for recruitment. At the minimum, it should contain highlights of the company's signature projects and strategic initiatives, a description of the company culture and personality, and the skill sets needed.

As a captive owner or manager, how would you complete this story? Do you have projects and initiatives that set your captive apart from all the others out there that will be competing for the same pool of talent? Have you engaged your board in discussions around the story so that if they were to meet a potential job applicant somewhere they could tell the story quickly and easily? If not, what's holding you back from crafting the story?

2. "See the magic." This involves making sure the prospect gets to see your organization and/or department in action. It means more than inviting him or her in and conducting an interview in a conference room. The prospect needs to be able to interact with the other people involved in order to get a true sense of the firm.

As captive owner or manager, what kind of impression would a potential recruit get from visiting your office and getting to see the operations up close? Would he or she walk away impressed or confused? If it is more likely the latter, how can you change the impression that you are seeking to make?

3. Develop a laser-like approach. Continually refine the focus of the search to ensure you are getting to the right individuals.

This is not a radical or particularly new idea. Captives, however, need to understand that given the unemployment rate, even finding minimally qualified individuals is difficult. To recruit and retain the cream of the crop require constant attention to the recruitment effort.

4. Employ detective skills. Hidden talent is not easily found. Don't settle for using job boards and online recruitment ads. Use all the resources at your disposal and invest the time necessary to do the job correctly.

For captives, this can entail looking beyond the obvious sources of new talent. Make sure you actively employ your board, staff, captive manager, and other professional resources in the search. The broader you make the effort, the more likely you are to find the diamond in the rough. With everyone looking for employees, you need to go above and beyond your competitors to be successful. Remember, the cost to replace a poor job fit can be many times more expensive than money spent up front to conduct a thorough search.

5. Conduct a postmortem. Once the search has successfully concluded, create a comprehensive report on what worked and what needs to be changed. Also, keep a list of the other finalists from the search so that you have a starting point for any new positions that open in the future.

A simple test for captives is, if you were to be asked to produce a list of five qualified candidates for key positions in your organization, could you? Recruitment is a continual process. Maintain a list of people you meet that impress you for some reason. That list becomes the starting point for potential new employees.

While the unemployment rate may inch up as the economy continues to cool, the war for top talent is relentless. Captives need to recognize this fact and make sure they are always in recruitment mode even when they may not have any openings.

October 16, 2019