Article of the week 46 – 2023

Recruitment in customer service, or: “Where do I fish right?”

In times of „Arbeiterlosigkeit“, i.e., the lack of manpower in the market, which Dr. Sebastian Dettmers (CEO Stepstone) describes in his book of the same name, the shortage of skilled workers has and will continue to worsen. As managers, we therefore need to take a close look at how we can find employees in a structured way – this is where the slightly different view of fishing technology can help us in recruitment.

The questions of what, where and how

The essential first question you ask yourself when fishing is what I want to catch/find, which then leads to the where and how. Applied to our recruitment programme, this means the following questions using the example of Customer Service Agents (CSA – m/f/d):

  • Which group of CSAs am I looking for exactly, Sales or rather Care?
  • Is there a preference? (e.g., technology affine, social media affine, silver surfer)
  • Where do I meet them so that they find out about me and the vacancies?

As a rule, recruitment departments use their established channels, i.e., those where they have been successful to date. These are the classic job portals, „employees recruit employees“ programmes, an advertisement in a weekly newspaper or sometimes a job fair. Success is increasingly changing because the pressure in these „target waters“ is growing – more anglers, fewer fish.

The „where“ – improving my own target fishing waters.

If the pressure in the selected channels, i.e., in the „where“, is too great, the rising costs for recruitment, i.e., the „cost per hire“ factor (see “Monitoring the Employee Life Cycle in Customer Service“), will also be at risk at some point. This does not mean that you should give up on them, on the contrary – you should expand them, i.e., adapt your fishing strategy.

The map – or where am I already good and where lives the potential?

Experienced anglers usually make notes about their catches. They write down when, where and at what time they caught a target fish so that they can repeat it in the best-case scenario. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting down on a river incredibly early in the morning and catching nothing all day (German anglers refer to this as a „Scheider-day“). So, try asking yourself the question, where do your CSAs come from and by that I do not just mean via which channel, but actually.

To do this, you need the addresses (the postcode is sufficient here) of your existing employees. You count the CSAs that come from postcode 33332, for example, and thus obtain a cluster at postcode level. You do this with all postcodes and then you have an overview of your current “catchment area” or „target fishing waters“. This anonymised data, i.e., only the number of your employees within a postcode, can be converted into a map using the Google Map function, for example, on which you can immediately see in which corners of your catchment area you are successful and in which you are still weak, i.e., have potential.

Together with your recruitment team, you can now analyse why you recruit better in certain areas and not in others. There may be several reasons for this – in some cases it may be industrial estates or the public transport connections to your location is may be difficult. However, there are often surprises, so it always makes sense to check locally.

Drive to these areas and find out whether there are, for example:

  • Are there any central advertising pillars that you can still book?
  • Which suburban trains and buses run here that could be used for advertising?
  • Is there another weekly newspaper in which you can advertise?
  • Is there perhaps a pizza baker who distributes your job adverts with the pizza boxes and places them directly in the kitchens of the offices that order there? In other words, where your potential new CSA is based.

In short, they look locally to see what they can improve on their technique in their „target fishing waters“ to successfully recruit where others may not. Fewer anglers, more fish.

Conclusion: What can I take away from fishing?

Fishing is a popular leisure activity that requires patience, expertise, and strategy. Recruitment is an important process within our Employee Life Cycle that attracts qualified and motivated employees to our company. These two areas have little in common, but on closer inspection, some parallels can be drawn.

  • Before you start looking for a fish or a candidate, you need to know what you are looking for, where to look and what bait or incentives you can use. This is where it helps to build on existing knowledge. Having the right equipment or the right tools to use is also essential.
  • Conditions in the water or on the labour market can change quickly and you should be prepared to adapt your strategy accordingly. You should be flexible and think creatively to react to unexpected situations or challenges to be successful in the long term.

To summarise, fishing and recruitment have more in common than you might think. We can derive ideas on how to approach the topic of recruitment even more consciously to avoid „schneidern“. This minimises the risk of not finding enough employees in your company. Visualising data on a map can help you to recognise your potential and act. This is where the slightly different ideas, such as the flyer about the pizza baker, can help. If you have any questions about how to put together such a map of your own „target fishing waters“ and how to create added value with it, please feel free to contact me.

Bernhard H. Aulenkamp – Senior Consultant


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