Put out the welcome mat
Gary Quick says that if potential employees knew about his information-technology consulting firm, they'd want to work for him. So he's inviting them in to hear his story.
By Joan Slattery Wall
Having trouble recruiting employee candidates? Throw them a party.
It worked for Gary Quick, president of Quick Solutions Inc.
The party, technically, was an open house at the Polaris information technology consulting firm, attended by 83 candidates who were invited by existing employees, newspaper ads and in-house recruiters.
Within a month, Quick Solutions had hired a half-dozen of the attendees after in-house recruiters followed up on résumés and registration cards filled out at the event. Some attendees even called the day after the open house to request an interview, says John Yeager, team leader of Quick's recruiting department.
"Just coming in and talking to one person from the company is a lot different than mingling and talking to the owner and the vice president and the consultants," Yeager says, comparing the traditional interview process to the open-house concept.
Quick drew potential employees to the evening event by featuring a speaker from Oracle Corp., who talked about a new database product, and by giving away a Pentium II computer in a random drawing of attendees. He kept them there with games, including a dartboard where participants earned points toward free software, and a buffet catered by Big Bear. Of course, Quick also capitalized on the opportunity to give his own sales pitch of sorts on the company, as did some of his employees.
"We have a story we want to tell, and if you can do it in person, it's a lot more effective than over the telephone," says Quick, who's been an information-technology headhunter for 20 years.
The approximately $5,000 that Quick invested in the March open house was well worth the effort, he says; in fact, he plans to hold more this year, including a summer event that could include entertainment.
One idea behind the open house is to inform and put to rest questions that potential candidates have about making a career move. After all, 95 percent of the consultants Quick hires are already employed somewhere else and are looking for an upgrade.
"They say making a job change is right up there in the top five or top 10 stressful things," he says. "We try to address that."
Quick's recruiters are continuing to contact participants, hoping to add further to the company's 170 consultants. He hopes to grow his staff to 300 by the end of the year.
The open-house concept could work for other industries as well, Quick says. His advice: "If you believe you have a good story to tell, be sure to tell it. And have some of your staff there telling them that. Real-life testimonies-I think that really sells."
Other suggestions Quick offers to attract-and keep-employees:
Every new employee is sent a gift basket shortly after hire, a move that costs Quick $30 apiece but gains him more comments and cards than anything else he does.
Managers are all promoted from within and Quick stays accessible to employees to avoid giving them the out-of-touch corporate feel from which many of them came.
Every employee works with a manager to create a professional development plan with goals that not only will keep them on the leading edge of their field but also will make them motivated to improve. "We believe here when you're green you grow, when you're ripe you rot," Quick says.
Quick gives monthly awards for performance, and managers review each employee every six months.
"You can't treat people like hardware. They have a mind, they have a voice, they have a need," Quick says. "People need to feel like what they're doing is beneficial to the company."