Don’t be a chicken when recruiting

Fishing hook in 3D person

In the space of a few months the COVID crisis has brought the country from record low to record high unemployment in some areas. But even when the statistics tell us there is a shortage of job opportunities, the reality on the street is there are industries where special skills or the nature of the jobs leave plenty of openings.

So this still a useful time to review what I consider a mostly poorly practiced art in marketing – recruiting prospective employees. You’d think with the billions spent by companies, large and small on advertising of all sorts, there would be better attention paid to finding what so many business owners agree is the most vital resource, great employees. Something better, that is, than a plastic Help Wanted sign or handwritten sheet of paper taped to the wall.

I don’t have an answer to why this is executed so poorly so often but once again I return to a company that seems to have figured out company culture and employee training. I saw it while attending to one of my guilty pleasures – Chick-fil-A.

The restaurant nearest the CEDF office is on my way to work. At this writing the dining room is still closed but they continue to do a steady drive-thru business. And here is where rhetoric meets outdoor advertising. By that I mean they don’t just have a single Help Wanted sign displayed. The drive-thru lane is a veritable tunnel of marketing. On left, the restaurant is all glass windows and each pane has one of five different signs, roughly 2’ x 3’.  The right side of your car has real-estate-style signs of the same size and with the same copy planted in the grass. While you wait in line, you can’t miss the persuasion, all leading to the call to action: “Ask for an application at the window.”

So imagine you are in a car and you are looking for work. Quick-service food establishments don’t represent everybody’s dream, but now you’re exposed to some reasons that might make you reconsider.

Positive Work Environment

Enjoy Sundays off
Flexible scheduling
Culture of Care
Growth opportunities galore
Look forward to coming to work for a change


Tuition assistance
401K retirement match
Profit sharing plan
Health insurance
Meal discount program
Competitive pay
Opportunity to travel
Professional development
Advancement opportunities
Training and mentorship
Path to franchise ownership

The first reaction of a closed-minded small business owner might be “We can’t offer all of that.” While I’m guessing some of the items on the list might apply to supervisory positions (e.g. health insurance, profit-sharing or path to ownership), for the most part you can’t afford not to include many of the rest. I mean, who wants to work for what they know is uncompetitive wages, where the atmosphere is unpleasant and nobody likes to come to work?

If you think stating the obvious is a waste of time, either you never learned how to sell or you’re too ashamed of how you manage your own enterprise. You might have different characteristics of the jobs in your industry that are worth beating the drum about. But you have to beat loud and long to acquire the pool of applicants necessary to give you, as the manager, enough selection. You don’t’ want to have to make a choice from the “best of the worst” because you have failed to attract sufficient interest.

So figure out what you can offer in your business and then advertise the benefits at every point that your prospective applicants might see it. And don’t be afraid to include customers in your advertising because referrals can come from the most unexpected sources.


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