Finding and hiring staff is tough right now, but you already knew that. I wish I had some earth-shattering advice, or a secret source to find candidates that are customer focused, team oriented, passionate, and—perhaps most importantly—available. Alas, no one can magically solve the staffing issues we’re experiencing. What I can do, though, is tap my years as a recruiter and executive in the outdoor industry and share several best practices to help you with hiring in this challenging market.
Remember, too, that today’s best practices will still serve you well when the hiring tide turns again.
We all know it takes time to find the right people, whether a park manager or a guide. So, you shouldn’t wait until you have an opening to begin recruiting. Even if your operation is yearround, hiring likely ebbs and flows with the season and the availability of your staff. Use the resources at your disposal to continually build your network and pipeline of potential candidates, so you have a pool of people to reach out to when the time is right.
Create a pipeline. Include an employment page on your website where applicants can send in their resume at any time. Get to know staff at the local climbing gym or the YMCA and invite them to come climb at your park. Be visible and involved in industry groups, both in person and virtual, so that potential applicants recognize your name and brand.
Active recruitment. Of course, there will be times when you are actively recruiting to fill specific positions. Use your communication channels, including your email list and social media platforms, to advertise open positions. Post signs at your park and include your employee value proposition. Your guests and staff will always be your best sources for new staff, so make sure they are aware that you’re hiring and ask them for referrals. If you’ve built a pipeline during your downtime, use that network to get the word out as well.
Job listings. On your website and job posting sites, make sure that your job postings are accurate, up to date and fresh. Applicants will shy away from applying for a role that looks like it was posted months ago, so you want to signal that you have immediate positions available to generate the most interest. Consider paying for sponsored postings to drive the most visibility for your open position. It’s ultimately a numbers game, so the more people that see your posting, the better your chances are of filling openings quickly.
The market has changed, so your postings likely need a refresh to appeal to current job seekers. Postings should reflect your brand and the benefits of working at your park. Younger workers are especially attracted to companies that have a purpose and strong sense of mission. Make sure that your company values are reflected in job descriptions and that the tone of the descriptions matches your culture.
Also, offer a preview of what it’s like to work there. For example, shoot a few employee testimonials with a smartphone and include those in the posting.
Make it easy. Don’t make jobseekers jump through too many hoops to apply. Screening questions and online skill tests can certainly help save you time by pre-qualifying applicants, but in this market, many qualified applicants will just move on to the next posting rather than spend time on online pre-screening. In general, make your application process as quick and frictionless as possible to get as many applicants as you can. Yes, it will take a little more time on your end to sift through, but you will hopefully get a higher volume of candidates and increase your chances of finding the right fit.
THE HIRING PROCESS
When you do get applicants for a position, treat them with the same courtesy and respect as you would a guest at your park. Even if you don’t plan to interview an applicant, follow up and thank him or her for their interest. For those you do interview, make sure to let them know in a timely manner afterwards whether they are a fit or not.
Think of it like this: Every interaction is a reflection of your brand and the experience that potential guests can expect, even if those “guests” are job applicants.
Sense of urgency. Keep in mind that the market is moving fast. If you are trying to fill an immediate role, move candidates through the process with a sense of urgency. Good applicants will likely have multiple offers to choose from, so get yours in front of them as quickly as possible to avoid losing them to another opportunity.
Applicant management. It can be tricky to manage applicant communication, especially if you have multiple openings and are using different sources for job postings. Consider implementing an applicant tracking system (ATS) platform to make your hiring more efficient and applicant communication more effective.
There are myriad ATS options avail – able—from comprehensive systems designed for large companies to simpler systems with fewer functions but a much smaller price tag. For most adventure parks, a low-cost applicant tracking system will do the trick. It can help organize applications, respond to candidates, and track people through – out the interview process.
An ATS is also a great place to store those prospective candidates in your pipeline, so that you can reach out to them as new openings arise. Using an ATS can go a long way toward making the application and interview experi – ence a positive one for both your team and the applicants.
Competitive package. With wages rising in the hospitality industry as well as other outdoor industry businesses, competing on pay is getting more difficult. Get to know your local job market and who you are competing against for staff. How does your offering compare? You might need to look at your compensation ranges to stay competitive, but there are other things that jobseekers find important, too.
Think about what makes your company and workplace special. Is it a great team? Free climbing? Working outside? Flexible hours? A company culture where employees feel empowered and valued? Now is a great time to think about what more you can offer, too, whether it be career development, paid time off, or other ancillary benefits.
As you consider your employee value proposition, remember that often your best resource for finding new employ – ees is your current team members—at least they should be. In order for your staff to be your greatest recruiters, they need to love what they do and work in an environment that they’re proud to recommend to their friends. If you take care of your people, they will take care of you—and help spread the word about how awesome it is to work at your park.
A STRONG FOUNDATION
Implementing these practices won’t necessarily make hiring effortless, but they will help you build a sturdy foundation for recruiting over the long term. Developing a strong reputation as a great place to work—and even a great place to interview—is an ongoing pro – cess that will pay off through the ups and downs of the labor market.