Grassroots Recruiting: Leverage Technology, but Keep It Simple

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Recruiting local hourly candidates is a lot like scouting for a college or professional sports team. Professional scouts build relationships with coaches, schools, and organizations. They spend a lot of time researching and visiting the places where they know they have a high likelihood of finding great talent.

Grassroots recruiting is very similar to scouting. It takes feet on the street and relationships with local businesses and community leaders.

Here’s how grassroots recruiting works: first,  you identify where your ideal candidates live, work, and play. Then, you develop recruiting collateral that you post at these locations and persuade people/organizations to circulate it on your behalf. You can also use the recruiting collateral at local job fairs. Keep your application process simple, and remember to refresh your collateral a few times a month.

We use this process with a major hospitality chain, and it’s significantly shortened their time to hire because:

1) The job openings get higher visibility much faster within the community surrounding the job location.

2) The process drives many more completed applications, creating a deeper talent pool that the company can draw from to quickly fill future needs.

Best of all, the candidate flow has been steady, so the chain continuously gets fresh applications in the system.

This process also works well for the logistics, call center, retail, and health care industries. We’ve found that the greatest success for grassroots recruiting happens when you have a mix of high- and low-tech approaches.

Low-Tech: Recruit While You Make Sales Calls

Many business operators are responsible for both sales and recruiting — so why not do them at the same time? Let’s say you own a hotel and you are out selling in the community. You make contact with a local church and offer its members a discount. This is also an excellent place to recruit local candidates, so you also drop off some recruiting flyers and cards. This approach also works well at apartment complexes, campgrounds, and tourist information centers.

High-Tech: Utilize Mobile Recruiting

Businesses often need part-time hourly workers, but these candidates are extremely busy people. They often work a number of jobs and also have family, school, and other responsibilities. They don’t always have the time to come to your location to complete an application.

The other issue is that many hourly workers don’t even own computers these days but instead they rely on mobile devices to access the Internet. According to the Pew Research Center :

  • Some 13 percent of Americans with an annual household income of less than $30,000 per year are smartphone-dependent. In contrast, just 1 percent of Americans from households earning more than $75,000 per year rely on their smartphones to a similar degree for online access.
  • 12 percent of African Americans and 13 percent of Latinos are smartphone-dependent, compared with 4 percent of whites.

If you’re recruiting hourly workers and are committed to diversity, these might be the people you’re trying to recruit. You will need a mobile recruiting solution to make it easy for these candidates to apply.

Here’s how it works: simply place a QR code or text-to number on the recruiting collateral so candidates can whip out their mobile devices and apply immediately. Just remember that the mobile application process is quite different from an online application, so keep it short and user-friendly. Mobile recruiting may sound complicated, but if it’s done correctly, it is actually very simple and affordable.

Enhance Your Recruiting and Company Brand

An easy application process will dramatically increase your candidate pool. It also enhances your recruiting and company brand. You’re signaling to candidates that you’re aware of their time constraints and truly want to immediately engage them. Additionally, people want to work for and patronize places that make it easy to do business. In fact, utilizing this approach can have a viral effect as people in the community form an emotional connection to the brand and share the job openings with their social networks, which generates additional applications for the employer.

Grassroots recruiting is an excellent way to reach both passive and active hourly candidates. It’s also quite cost-effective, since you don’t have to post on national job boards that may not give you the local candidate flow — and return on investment — that you’re seeking.

By Liz D'Aloia