…then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.  That’s what I tell folks who complain to me about their labor market and their impossible, imposed-from-above recruiting goals.

It’s usually a diversity goal that gives rise to the complaints.  “We’re in the mid-west,” groups of diversity class participants will tell me.  “There’s no racial diversity here.  It’s impossible for us to increase our representation.”

This week it was a somewhat different scenario; the participants were from the hospitality industry and their goal was simply to start hiring responsible adults rather than young surf bums with drug problems.  But my response was the same.  In smaller organizations we often get stuck in ruts with our sourcing and recruiting efforts and it becomes easy to believe that what we’re looking for simply isn’t out there.  If you run recruitment ads in your local paper and then sit back to see what walks through your door, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

I challenged the group to think differently.  “It’s not about who applies,” I told them.  “It’s about who you go out and get.”

“But we don’t pay enough to go out and get who we want,” they said.  “We don’t pay enough to get the experienced people.”

I talked to them about Zappos, a company well known for getting quality call center hires not by paying them any more than the competition but by creating an environment where intrinsically motivated, customer-oriented people will want to stay and do their best.

But more importantly, I talked to them about the corners of their community they might not be considering.  What about stay-at-home moms who might want to work part-time a couple nights a week?  What about recently retired folks who’ve decided they don’t want to be completely retired?  What about empty nesters looking for something to get them out of the house?  What organizations, clubs and networking groups could we tap into for referrals in these demographics?

It always takes a while to break through the mindset that says, “We already know what’s out there in our local community and it’s not what we’re looking for.”  But eventually I think we got there.  I look forward to seeing what creative things this group will do next in their pursuit of a great guest experience.

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