In today’s job market, being able to connect on a more personal level with your employers is an absolute must if you’re workforce development professional. With unemployment rates in double-digits across the country, the competition for jobs is steep. Like job seekers, “business as usual” isn’t going to garner you the connections you need to make nor the outcomes you need to achieve. It’s going to take a consistent effort on your part to distinguish yourself from others who are also trying to get the attention of local employers.
The following are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to establishing that relationship:
1. Get to know the employer and his or her business first! If possible, research the company before meeting, including who their direct competitors are. Also consider what other “like” companies are doing related to marketing and customer retention. Walking into a meeting being able to say, “I know Store ABC shut down last month. I’m sure that’s been great for business” is going to help establish a connection.
2. Find a way to compliment the employer. For example, “Your store seems to be doing well in this economy. You must be great at doing XYZ.” Or, “Wow, your staff seems really knowledgeable and friendly. You don’t always see that.” These comments can lead you directly to conversations about growth, (the need for more staff) or how they find such great employees (offering your services). Remember, if you’re talking to a business owner, they will see their company as an extension of themselves. If you show you care about the company, they’ll feel you care about them. Be sincere!
3. Have something of value to offer them. Do a quick survey of your employers. Find out what they need assistance with, and set up Business Breakfasts or a Brown Bag lunch series where you invite guest speakers to present. This is a great way to not only show value, but to market your services and continue building your relationship.
4. Ask their opinion or advise. You can say, “I understand you’re not hiring right now, but I’ve got this great candidate with XYZ skills. Is there somebody you know and trust that is looking for someone to fill that type of position?” You might be surprised by what happens. You either get a great referral or they realize they don’t want this candidate going to another company!
1. Don’t walk in and ask if they are hiring! They will say “No” and then you don’t have much else to talk about. (See Do #1.)
2. Don’t waste their time. They don’t have it and neither do you! Your initial contact with an employer should be 3-5 minutes at most. Find something they need and set a date and time to meet again. Always set another meeting time on the spot. Otherwise, you’ll lose momentum with them.
3. Last, never make the meeting about you. Your candidates should almost be an afterthought. Until you’ve asked the
employer enough questions to find out what their needs are, you can’t successfully fill them!