5 Tips to Become a Champion Recruiter

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Did former Alabama Head Coach, Nick Saban become the country’s best college football recruiter overnight? Of course not. Did he benefit from the history of the Alabama football program? Of course. But what really set him apart during his time at the helm was how he made being an Alabama recruit the ONLY thing that a blue chip high school player could think about.

I know what you are thinking, getting excited to play football in Tuscaloosa is drastically different than getting excited to work in the tree care industry, right? But is it really much different? After all, you want someone who is going to be passionate and not stop until they reach their peak, just like Coach Saban.

Following Coach Saban’s lead, here are my tips to becoming a champion recruiter in the tree care industry.

Company Culture – New recruits chose Alabama because they wanted to win a national championship. That was the culture and expectation that Coach Saban and his staff set. Everyone knew it and understood their role in how to achieve it together. The culture focuses on the team success, not individual performances.

Obviously, a tree service must have a team first approach as well, but creating a desirable culture can be difficult for tree care owners. There are no national championship trophies to hoist or conference rivalries to get excited about. So find pride in what you do and rally around that. Whether it is your unrelenting commitment to safety, the desire to enhance your customer’s lives by maintaining their trees, or the goal to plant more trees than you remove, it needs to be clearly defined to become the best tree service you can be. That message must be known and embraced by everyone on your team. When you have it, your company culture will start recruiting new employees for you.

Identify Future Staffing Needs – Just like in college football, turnover on your team is inevitable. No matter how great your company is, you will always have employees who leave your organization either to a municipality or to start their own company or need to switch careers because their body cannot handle the daily workload anymore. So do not avoid thinking about turnover, plan on it happening.

Look at your current team and think about timeline for each person to be moving on from their current role. Also, look for ways that each individual can still remain a part of your organization. In doing so, you will have identified your future staffing needs and started creating internal career paths that can help retain those team members and recruit new ones.

Set Key Characteristics – Do you know what characteristics you want in an employee? Have you written them down? When looking at your current team members, what makes them a valuable asset to your company? Write down the desirable traits so you can start to build an ideal employee profile. At Alabama, the coaching staff has a very specific set of physical (height, weight, speed, strength) and personality traits (motivation, discipline, academics) that they stick to.

If someone does not fit within their desired profile, they pass on them. Due to the lack of prospective employees in the tree care industry, it makes this part of recruiting much more difficult for you. However, every one of us has hired someone out of desperation that did not fit with what you want but you needed another person to do the work. Many times, this is the individual that is the most challenging to manage, they are the ones that get hurt and cause accidents. Be specific on who you want and don’t settle just because you need a body.

Be Present to Create the Pipeline – Being selective with your new hires can only happen when you have options. For that to happen you must build your recruiting pipeline just like college coaches do. You and your company must be present in the areas that your new hires will be. Depending on what who your ideal new employee is, this could mean having a physical presence at local high school and college career fairs or working with them to develop internships, or having an interactive booth at a 4-H or FFA conference.

In addition to being physically present, you must be visible on the correct social media platforms (hint: Instagram not Facebook) showing why a career in the tree care industry is exciting and rewarding. If you haven’t looked at www.outsidecareers.org, do so today. They have some great information and stories that you can use to recruit new employees. After all, isn’t that really what Coach Saban uses? Stories from former players and alumni on how their time at Alabama shaped their lives into what they are today.

Always be Recruiting – The NCAA puts restrictions on how and when college football coaches can recruit high school players, but in the tree care industry the only limit on recruiting efforts is what you place on yourself. Putting a year round emphasis on recruiting is the best way to create the pipeline of prospective employees that you can tap into when you need it. Don’t delay recruiting until someone hands you their two week notice or when you finally land that big job and need more employees to complete it. Recognize recruiting it as a critical component of your business and one that must be given time and energy to be effective.

Becoming a champion recruiter takes a lot of time and hard work, but the rewards pay off tenfold. Just ask Nick Saban where his football program would have been if he was not getting the right players to come play for him.

If you struggle with finding and keeping great employees, contact an ArboRisk team member today! Our Thrive Risk Management Hiring & Recruiting Package and team of experts will help you one-on-one to create a hiring and recruiting plan that works for your organization.