When we talk to experts from the industry, one challenge is mentioned over and over again: How can I deal with talent shortage? Hiring enough workers to manage the high attrition rate is essential to maintain the everyday business. Deal with peak season, and thus, having a very different amount of employees throughout the year is a specialty that logistics and warehousing are facing every year. Therefore, we want to take a closer look into blue-collar recruiting to get you immediate advice on how to get more candidates for your vacancies and – even more important – how to hire the right employees in the end.
Hey Ki-Won, thank you so much for taking the time today. I am curious to learn more about blue-collar recruiting. You work at mobile jobs, which is a job platform for blue-collar jobs.
Why do companies need another recruiting approach for the blue-collar industry?
Ki-Won: First of all, thank you for having me! At mobileJobs, we developed a recruiting solution with a 100% focus on the blue-collar target group. This is so important because you have differences in the target group and how they actually work. When you consider a truck driver: obviously, he is not working on a computer, and this has many influences on how you act in your own time. For example, how experienced you are in using Microsoft office products, or how good are you at using devices? This results in a different technical recruiting approach.
In addition to that, you have to carefully think about where you can meet them – what channels are they using to look for jobs? When you look at job platforms, like Linkedin, it’s not very surprising that a truck driver does not have a profile there. But when you go to Facebook or Instagram, there you have an excellent chance to get access to them.
To make it short, one-size-fits-all is not possible when you want to have efficient recruiting in the different types of groups. And – to be honest – until let’s say 5-7 years ago, it was not necessary to have this specific approach for the blue-collar target group. Until then, you as a company were in a very comfortable situation that there were enough applicants for your jobs. But this changed and I think to understand that and to realize that you need other approaches is what happened a bit too late.
TOP TIPS FROM EXPERT KI-WON SUR
But why has the situation in the job market changed?
Ki-Won: Because on the one hand, you don’t have a comfortable situation anymore that there are enough people. When you are unemployed, you have a very different motivation to find a new job. You are willing to go through all the very long and complicated HR platform registration processes from the companies. And you are also ready to make a new CV even though it takes a few hours when you are not very firm with Microsoft Word, for example.
That is the reason why you have to rethink recruiting. Until a few years ago, the whole approach was very company centered. But today, you have to make a candidate-centered approach. You can learn a lot from eCommerce best practices as they do a lot of customer-centricity.
Why do many companies not see the urgency to think about the complete hiring process?
Ki-Won: That’s a very good question because this is what I ask myself every day. I think there are different aspects: One aspect is recruiting as we know it from the process itself is the same. “Let’s say probably since ever.” Twenty years ago, it was a newspaper where you published your job. Then you just put the job ad on the internet, but it was the same approach: You post your job, you hope somebody who fits, will see it and then this person applies by sending in a CV and – I think that’s a very german thing – add a motivation letter. Then you will have your interviews and make a decision. That’s the recruiting process we have known for decades.
All HR professionals learn this process as if there is no other truth. But just imagine we take this process and change the order:
Imagine you want to hire someone, and before you see his or her CV, you talk to that person, you meet, you grab a cup of coffee, and after this, you get the CV, you get all the information.
But who told us, or who said this is a golden rule that first, you have the CV and then you meet the person? And this is where companies struggle. They don’t touch the process. Because as I mentioned, it’s like a rule, it’s like a law; you have to do this like that.
The second aspect: We always had a kind of self-focus approach for companies. They want to have it as easy for them internally as possible. When we offered them our solution to communicate with the applicants, many replied that they already have an HR system in place. And they don’t want to have another system – even though their system doesn’t offer the right communication channels for their candidates.
I understand that it’s way more efficient for yourself, but you just look at your own needs, you don’t look at the needs of the candidates. And especially combined with a very tough job market meaning there is more demand than there are people, you will have a problem.
When you take a look at the eCommerce industry: If Amazon expects you to upload a form to buy a book, you would probably not buy there but buy at another online shop where this is not necessary. That’s what I meant when I said we could learn a lot from eCommerce because it’s 100% customer-centered development.
So the only question is always, “Is this good for the person who will give us money?”. So this should be the same question for the companies when we think about candidates “Is this good for the applicants?”. It takes time when you learn something, and when you think this is some kind of law, then it takes time to get used to a new situation.
BLUE-COLLAR RECRUITMENT TIPS
What did you do to improve the number of candidates for your customers?
Ki-Won: I think the most exciting part about that is when mobileJobs started. Some people heard the myth about startups that one day, somebody wakes up and has a very great idea – it’s not like that.
So, we just wanted to tackle the issue of blue-collar recruiting. We had no master plan in place, so we tried to understand the target group first. We used Design Thinking techniques to get to our final product how it is today. We always asked our target group what they liked and disliked. We just tried to understand, for example, also how they are using mobile devices.
The first thing we understood was that when you look at recent recruiting solutions, they tried to adapt to older recruiting solutions that looked like regular job boards. If you are lucky, you will get more applications, but not necessarily more hires in the end. For example, if a job board offers job postings via social media, you will have a channel that is mainly used on a smartphone or a mobile. If your HR system or the recruiting process is not optimized for mobile usage, applicants are more likely not to finish the application process, e.g., because uploading a CV file is not easily possible on a smartphone.
But this is one interruption where you lose a lot of candidates. Because you can’t do what you wanted to do – you can’t apply. So there was the idea: We have to make sure the company can optimize the whole funnel.
You mentioned that the communication channels are different when recruiting blue-collar workers. What is the best communication in the recruitment process?
Ki-Won: One central aspect is: Email is not used in that target group. When you look at yourself: I am a white-collar worker. But, communication-wise, even I only use email on a professional level or when I communicate with my insurance.
When did you last write an email to a friend saying, “Hi Thomas, I hope you are fine.” So, this is what we all do with our smartphones. We all use messengers like WhatsApp, for that.
You have an email address because you need it for certain things. But a recruiter may be surprised why it sometimes takes weeks before you get an answer to an email. And that’s just because the applicants have a habit of checking their emails maybe once a week and then you have a lot of spam mail, etc. and sometimes they just don’t see your email.
The truck driver is a good example. Why does he or she have to have skills in formatting a CV or someone who is always reachable by mail? So, if you are driving millions of kilometers per hour, then that’s what matters. And this is something also what I learned.
How do you track success in recruiting?
Most of the companies look at KPIs like “number of candidates.” But that doesn’t make sense for every company. If you know how much an open vacancy costs you every day, you can probably calculate very quickly that “time per hire” can give you a better insight into the efficiency of your recruiting process. Therefore, we focus on smartphone communication for the full process, as this is much faster and more intuitive for the candidates.
If you get a message from a company you applied directly on a smartphone; you can quickly reply within your 5 minute break or in your lunch break. And then immediately set up a telephone interview, because there is also the calendar in the smartphone available.
What should our readers keep in mind? What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give someone that starts with blue-collar recruiting?
Ki-Won: 1st, talk to mobile jobs, just kidding 🙂 . Seriously, talk to your colleagues who are in the jobs you want to recruit. This also helps you understand how to create job ads. Job ads in Germany are all pretty much the same. Just change the company name, and you won’t recognize it. And this is sad. In addition to that, don’t try to make it sound fancy, what you think fancy is. Because for our target group, it’s not appealing. Again, talk to the people. Do you understand it? Is that authentic?, etc.
The 2nd advice is to apply to your own company. Just do the whole application process, ideally from different devices. And when you have different channels, test every channel to find out the different needs for the channels.
And the 3rd aspect would be to adopt the customer-centricity approach from the eCommerce world: Always see everything from the point of view of the candidates. Unfortunately, for the company, that means you need to invest more money not only for job ads or buying new software but also for getting new colleagues. If you have white-collar and blue-collar employees, you will need two different ways of recruiting, and that requires more human resources.
Thank you so much for talking with me today about this super interesting topic, I’m pretty sure we might speak again at some point about the new or latest improvements in that area, and I’m looking forward to that.
Ki-Won: Me too, thank you!