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A Rich Resource for a Niche Market

It's tough recruiting for the hydraulic and pneumatic products business.

January 8, 2002
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It is tough to recruit for the hydraulic and pneumatic products business because it is such a niche market, says Mike Williams, BFP's corporate recruiter. When he needs to hire a sales rep, he wants someone with experience, which is difficult to find in the general job-seeking population. Because the industry is so small, his number-one referral method is word of mouth, but when he has to fill 15 to 20 sales positions a year, talking to his network isn't always enough.

Medium Company
Name: Berendsen Fluid Power
Location:Tulsa, Oklahoma
Business:Distributor of hydraulic and pneumatic products and services.
Employees:750

Once his personal contacts are tapped out, Williams goes online. "I'd rather use the Internet to recruit," he says. "When you run an ad in the newspaper, you don't know what you are going to get. It's not targeted enough."

His approach to online recruiting is twofold. First, Williams posts ads online, at BFP's Web site, at job-specific boards such as Salesgiant.com and Industrysalespros.com, and at targeted industry association sites. After that, he starts hunting for prospects. He subscribes to HotJobs.com, a major online career site where he does daily searches of the résumé database. "For $600 a month, I can access their database as often as I want," he says. "Compared to newspaper ads, that's cheap."

The cost savings is significant. For example, Williams has a sales position open in BFP's Dallas office. A Sunday ad in the Dallas Morning News costs him $3,000 and will net him roughly 30 résumés, 10 percent of which will be relevant, he says. "Salespeople think they can sell anything, so they apply to every job, but it's tough to bring in a candidate who doesn't have fluid power experience." By comparison, a recent keyword search of HotJob's résumé database garnered 52 résumés, 8 of which included industry experience.

"I find more qualified candidates by searching for résumés than posting ads," he admits. He does targeted keyword searches, such as "hydraulics, mechanical, and sales," which helps narrow his results to people with specific industry or related experience.

Many of the candidates he finds online are "passive job seekers" -- people who aren't looking for jobs necessarily but want to keep their résumés out there. That's fine with Williams, because even if they aren't interested in the job, they may know people who are. He recently found the résumé of a woman who had hydraulic experience but wasn't looking for an outside sales position. Williams asked if she knew of anyone who was, and three days later received the names of three potential candidates from a colleague of hers. He had a phone interview set up with one of them that day. "The Internet is a launch pad to expand my network," he says.

These targeted recruiting efforts have dramatically reduced the time and money that BFP spends on recruiting. Williams's average cost for an Internet hire is $377, versus $2,000 to $3,000 for a newspaper hire and even more for an agency referral. Last year, 25 percent of his new hires were found online, and he expects that percentage to rise as he targets more focused job sites. "Recruiting online takes work, but it saves us a lot of money."

Workforce, December 2001, pp. 75-76 -- Subscribe Now!

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