think outside the box plaque hiring process reminder

3 Steps to Turn Your Hiring Challenges into Applicant Flow Advantages

As I've worked with numerous companies over the years, I've learned that the approach I take to problem solving is different than most. While my out of the box method of thinking sometimes seems a little out there, I assure you there is a method to my madness.

Today I want to share with you the 3-step technique I use to approach problem solving when it comes to your hiring process.

Effective Hiring Processes include Applicant Flow Problem Solving Techniques

The Goal:

To start, it's important to identify the goal. It's no secret that one of the key elements to an effective hiring process is a generous applicant flow. In fact, when meeting with HR professionals across the country, the most common questions I get are: How can I attract more applicants? And How can I improve my job applicants?

With that goal of finding more qualified job applicants in mind, it's time to start figuring out solutions.

You can do better than mediocre applicants!

Learn how to better understand your potential candidates and what they are looking for with our Job Seeker Persona Guide.

Restaurants Struggle with Low Applicant Flow in Some Locations

Case Study:

For this example, I'm going to talk about a local restaurant chain a good friend of mine works at. This restaurant chain has stores all across the country. While the local stores are doing great and seem to have no problem with applicant flow, stores in other states are having such a difficult time getting applicants they're actually flying out employees every month to keep the stores running.

I can appreciate the ingenuity in this method, but it's certainly not a sustainable solution, especially when its costing the company upwards of $100,000 per month.

Companies can Solve Hiring Challenges by Thinking Outside the Hiring Process Box

The 3 Step Process:

In order to start coming up with solutions for problems I like to ask three questions, "Why", "What If", and "How Might We".

  • 1. WHY

    In the case of this restaurant chain, we are asking "why aren't they getting enough applicants to properly staff the store?"

    When it comes to restaurants the majority of applicants tend to be college aged kids looking for some extra cash to live on. With this being the case location is a huge factor when it comes to applicants. College kids usually live near the campus, and spend most of their time on or near campus, so they'll likely only look for jobs in this location. If the store is close to campus, they'll probably get plenty of applicants, but if the store is 20-30 minutes away from the campus there is bound to be an applicant flow problem.

  • 2. WHAT IF

    Now that we know the problem, proximity to the nearest store, it's time to start asking What If. After thinking about this proximity issue for a while I came up with two core "What If" questions.

    What if college students aren't applying to this job because they don't know about it? If the students are living the majority of their lives around the campus, and your store is all the way across town they might not know you're hiring. In fact there is a possibility they don't even know your store is there.

    And secondly, what if college students aren't applying because they are worried about how to get to work each day? While some college kids have cars, there is a large majority of them who don't have cars. Not having a reliable source of transportation would probably motivate students to find a job near or on campus to eliminate the variables of having to find rides, take public transportation or even walk.


    Finally, we need to figure out the exact question we are trying to answer. With the restaurant we decided to ask ourselves how might we help college kids know about our job, know about the location, and understand there is a way for them to get back and forth to work?

Practice Turning Your Hiring Challenges into Hiring Opportunities

The Solution:

With all the groundwork done, it's time to start coming up with what I like to call a MVS - Minimum Viable Solution. A minimum viable solution is a solution that is just basic enough to test on and to gather feedback and come back with a better solution later.

When it comes to the first of the hiring challenges, what if students don't know about the job, my idea was to simply advertise their jobs on campus. Print out some fliers with your restaurant's name, and maybe even a coupon or deal and hang them around campus. Simple enough to execute but for some reason often overlooked in today's internet focused marketing plans.

The second of the hiring challenges was what if students aren't applying because they're concerned about transportation to and from work? The first solution that could be tested immediately was to simply pay for Uber or Lyft to transport the employees from a central location on campus to the store and back for their shifts.

I calculated that this option would cost the company roughly $10,000 a month to implement. While that is still a pretty high cost, its a fraction of what they were spending before to fly employees out to work in the store. Another more price effective option would be to buy a car to transport employees. This not only helps cut costs, but could also be a super effective recruiting effort depending on the car you decide to purchase. There are probably a lot of college students that would love to hop out of a Tesla Model X with falcon doors up in front of their whole campus every day.

Obviously both of these ideas are pretty "out there" when it comes to a normal hiring process. I feel this would be a great solution to recruit from a college campus, even though chances are no one else is doing it. The ‘no one else is doing it' factor tends to scare people off, when in reality it works in your favor to stand out when it comes to better hiring.

Next time you're facing challenges in hiring employees I recommend this method of problem solving to help you come up with your solutions. Remember, all you need is a MVS plan to begin testing and adjusting with.

In the above video, I mentioned a tool to help you get started in your hiring process. When we were answering the original "Why" question for this restaurant we had to figure out what our target applicant pool was - college students. The download below will help you in discovering what your target applicant pool is so you can better cater to their needs when designing your application process.

increase applicant flow

You can do better than mediocre applicants!

Learn how to better understand your potential candidates and what they are looking for with our Job Seeker Persona Guide.

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