Why Growing Companies Need To Consider Their Marketing When Hiring

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Marketing and hiring goes hand in hand. Find the right employee based on their chances of being successful, do not only focus on their experience and qualifications. This approach can prove to work in favour of your company!

Let’s face some facts. Hiring someone is tough. After doing it for a few years this occurred to me:

“Hiring is like getting married after a first date. You don’t really know what you are getting until it’s too late and it’s a lot harder to get rid of them than it was to get them.”

For years I was in a position in which I did the hiring but I was also involved in the training of those that others hired. And I learned a tremendous amount from both of those activities. One of the things I learned is that hiring is arguably the most important component of marketing.

Marketing goes by different definitions, all of them applicable to some extent. One way to define a company’s marketing activities is that it is the process by which the company presents itself and its goods to the public (hopefully accurately). While most companies spend extraordinary time and effort on the physical product, too often the people they hire into the organization simply don’t match the product.

Mismatch Between Employees And Organization

Sometimes the disconnect between an employee and the company is obvious. When I was in charge of the training program for an insurance company we would often walk into the first day of training and leave scratching our heads wondering how the manager could have thought hiring a given individual was even remotely a good idea. For years we regularly recalled the newly minted insurance agent who cornered the trainer during the first break asking for directions to the nearest liquor store. Or the young woman who asked the training staff how should could be successful selling insurance without going to people’s houses or offices because she was “too pretty” (her words) and didn’t feel safe alone with others.

On a regular basis, though, we saw experienced employees who came to our company with years of experience, some with a degree of success under their belts. And when we got those, we all cringed.

Training insurance agents from other companies was always time consuming and mentally challenging. Every process was challenged – “that’s not the way we did it at ABC Company” – other agents without the experience hung on every word of the person as if they knew the magic formula for success. Every one of them would announce to the group how successful they had been and how successful they were going to be. I always was tempted to respond to the veteran agents boasts by saying, “And I noticed you are no longer employed there.” But I didn’t.

Without prompting, I could probably rattle of 25 agents who came from other companies. I believe one lasted more than a couple of years.

But that phenomenon was not limited to insurance agents. When I hired support staff or trainers I saw the same pattern. I needed someone with an advanced degree and training experience. In walked a gentlemen with all the qualifications including having been a college professor. The training I had to do to get him going was pretty much getting him a parking space and showing him the men’s room and cafeteria. He was a hiring manager’s dream. He also couldn’t get along with anyone else, wouldn’t socialize with others and simply walked out one day rather than conduct a seminar that was part of his job description.

Not too long into my management career I had an epiphany. I can teach people technical skills. I can’t teach them to be good people. Put another way, I can’t teach personality.

Hiring Motivated And Ambitious Employees

Once I realized that fact, my hiring improved dramatically. One of my first new hires was for a trainer to teach agents about life insurance. I hired a young lady from within the company who had no life insurance experience. My boss called me into her office and read me the riot act. She was convinced I hired her because she was young and cute. I defended my decision by telling my boss the young lady’s story.

She had been a college student, a sophomore I think, when her father got sick. It turned out he needed a heart transplant. After a long wait, a donor heart became available and the operation was done. Unfortunately, his body didn’t accept it and he died a few months later.

This young lady told me that the only reason she was able to finish college was because her dad had life insurance to pay for it. Understandably, she then majored in insurance studies. At that point, I didn’t really care what her professional background was. She was the one I needed to talk about life insurance.

The first few months were rough. I not only had to teach her everything she needed to know about life insurance, but I also had to teach her how to train others. But it worked. Almost twenty years later, she now had my old job, running the training program, is well-respected, and has earned some advanced designations in life insurance. She doesn’t tell people about her dad but she doesn’t have to. She has the passion.

I could relate more and more stories similar to that one. But the point is the same. Hiring potential is tough at the beginning but will result in a much better success rate than hiring someone just because they have done the job before.

And like so many things, larger companies have a tough time getting that done. Even if the management decides to follow my hiring rule, it will take decades of attrition to revamp the workforce to mirror the marketing image that the company is trying to put forth.

But a smaller concern can implement it quickly. And once implemented, it will grow organically. You will have an organization full of passionate employees grateful for an opportunity, happy to be part of forward-thinking team and organization. Whether you are looking for a spouse or an employee, don’t pick the one that makes your life easier today. Take the one that will be a successful match for years to come.


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Photo credit: W_Minshull via Visualhunt / CC BY