Good help is hard to find – as is retaining, developing, and promoting qualified personnel. But if your business is growing fast and you are dependent on a steady stream of capable staff to build up your team, what is the solution?

The traditional approach is to do more of the same, but more intensely. Post more ads, cast the net still wider, keep your recruitment for entry posts open and ongoing. This will help, but there is a cost to plowing through mountains of mediocre résumés and burning up staff time in pointless interviews. If you can’t get enough good candidates, you might face pressure to reduce your standards – a risk at several levels.

Rather than focusing on the job’s tasks, focus on the passion for working in your industry and environment. Find ways to connect with groups of passionate people who love what your company does and what it is about. This means, reach out to your base.

For example, let’s say you are an art consulting firm needing an accountant. Rather than focusing your recruitment on the accounting work, look for art lovers who have accounting skills. Art-loving accountants should work surrounded by something they love; they will be enthused by the work of the firm and bring extra dedication to their work and the overall success of the team.

Consider this example: As a former off-road motorcycle racing star, Dave Bertram’s love of motorcycles led him to become CEO of Cycle Gear, which grew from three stores to more than 100 across the U.S. with 900+ employees. So, for Dave, the idea of recruiting for a growing company from within the motorcycling community was a natural.

“A lot of really good candidates came from our customer base,” says Bertram. “I was in action sports, and people are passionate about what they do, particularly motorcycling. Once you get hooked on motorcycles, it’s in your blood and you never stop. What a lot of people don’t realize is you can make a really good living at it. You can take something that is your passion and make it into your profession as well.” And for Cycle Gear, it meant they were able to tap into an additional stream of enthusiastic and motivated candidates.

Here are some key steps to recruiting from your base:

  • Are there people who are passionate about the work you do? About your mission? About your company’s style? Perhaps not – you may be in a sector which is backend, non-glamorous, or otherwise not something people get so excited about. But for many firms, there are enthusiasts. The product, the culture, and the vibe excite people. Search the web for related groups. There are gardening enthusiasts, art enthusiasts, finance enthusiasts, IT enthusiasts – the list goes on. In the example from Cycle Gear, there are definitely a lot of motorcycle enthusiasts!
  • Identify groups of passionate people and figure out how to get in front of them. This might be through online ads, association events, keynote speaking, or customers and vendors you work with every day.
  • Put the word out that you are hiring. Spend money on promoting to those communities what a great company you are, and how employees thrive on making a living doing something they are passionate about.
  • As you hire people through this method, use them to promote your company back to those same communities. As it works, spend money helping those communities thrive –authenticity is important, and giving back will bring further returns.

Some worry that this approach will upset others in their community. Communities are filled not just with individual enthusiasts, but your company’s vendors and business customers too. Some might see your actions as poaching their people.  The answer to this challenge is to promote your openings clearly, but gently, for example, “Do you know of anyone who might want a position in our firm…” Do be cautious about directly, repeatedly hiring your customers’ employees. Of course, if your customers are consumers, there is no worry here.

Under Bertram, Cycle Gear averaged double-digit growth, so they had to staff up new stores while also retaining and promoting personnel within a sector that habitually experienced high turnover. By building an efficient recruitment system and incorporating a focus on recruitment through their customer base, Cycle Gear was able to continue improving performance while seeing a steady reduction in turnover.

“What I found works is to make recruitment front and center, but not obnoxiously,” notes Bertram. “You can’t put your hiring opportunities into every advertisement or make it always front page: ‘Now hiring, Join our team.’ It has to be subtle and tasteful.”

But putting it front an center requires a plan. However, your recruiting plan can be just One Page long. To see how that could work for you, chick on the button below for information.