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How to Attract & Retain Great Workers in 2021

Is hiring holding you back?

Author: Jeremy Harrison

November 10, 2021

Despite a disruptive year with COVID-19, worker layoffs and more, many companies find themselves facing similar hiring challenges in 2021 that they were facing before COVID-19.  There’s plenty of opportunity to grow, if only you could find enough good workers. 

After many layoffs in Spring 2020, many workers are back to work. Others are less motivated to jump back into full-time jobs with lucrative unemployment benefits. “How can you compete with someone getting paid well to NOT work?!?”

The key to being successful in a competitive hiring environment is to “put on your marketing hat.” The same mindset you use to attract great customers can help you attract great workers in a world where hiring is more competitive than ever. 

To be successful, we must change our mindset.  The approach you see on this billboard no longer works:

Now Hiring Billboard

Did you see a problem? 

It’s two words… “NOW HIRING.” 

If you are using those words to promote your jobs, you are probably disappointed with the results the past few years. “Now Hiring” just doesn’t work like it used to. Here’s why: 

  1. It’s not newsworthy.  Today, EVERYBODY is hiring! Employees understand that if they need a job, they can easily find one. Your billboard just reminds them that they have plenty of options when they are ready to look.


  2. It is too focused on you. Too many hiring ads focus on the company that’s doing the hiring, or the job they are trying to fill. But doing this overlooks the person you’re trying to reach.

You need to focus on the people you’re trying to reach, NOT the job you’re trying to fill.  Your hiring process is about THEM, it’s NOT about you. 

In the past two years since publishing this article, Spire worked with more than 100 local employers in Northern Ohio and helped them improve their hiring and retention strategies through campaigns and hands-on workshops.

One important starting point was helping those employers eliminate the “Now Hiring” mindset.

If you really think about the words, “now hiring” has a self-centered focus to it. Like,

“I know you all have been waiting for months, perhaps even years, for the privilege of working for our company, so let me declare that we are NOW HIRING.” 

[cue the applause]

And when you say those words, suddenly eager, well-qualified workers line up with their resumes just hoping for their shot to work for you.

This might have been more effective in 2009, when a lot of people were out of work and they just wanted a chance to work somewhere. But not today. People have jobs, and they need a good reason to make a change.  

So how do you do this? 

You need to make your hiring process about the ideal worker, NOT about the job. 

Start with the Job Posting

I suggest starting with your job posting or job description. Grab a copy of a recent job posting from your company. Ask yourself three questions:

  • Is it too self-centered? How much of that job posting talks about your company or the job? And how much of it talks about the person you want to apply, and what they will get out of it? Most job descriptions are too much about your company and the job, and not enough about the ideal person you want to apply.

    We will talk more about this most important step in PART TWO of this article.



  • Is it too intimidating? How much of that job posting talks about job requirements, experience they must have, or things they must be able to demonstrate? And how much of it helps people feel good about applying? When listing job requirements, focus on intangibles like work ethic, personality traits, and interests.

    For example:


    • DON’T: “Must have at least 3 years experience working in a customer service role in a tech services company.”


    • DO: “Must be passionate about working with people and have experience helping people solve problems.”

Personally, I’d often rather hire the right person instead of the right qualifications. I want someone who will love their work and do it well after they get some initial training more than someone who has the required number of years but may not enjoy what they do.

Sometimes the highest-potential job prospects have the most self-doubt when applying for jobs. Don’t scare away good people. Help assure them that you will equip them to be successful.

  • Will you keep their application confidential? Remember, most of your ideal workers are already working. So they can’t risk their job security to apply for your job. So you need to make it very clear before they apply that you will keep their application confidential. Tell them it will be confidential, tell them what happens next when they apply, and make sure you have a system in place that will honor those promises. This will help people feel good about applying. 

To help you nail this, download our Job Description Planner. It’s a simple fill-in-the-blanks worksheet that will help you create a highly engaging job posting that is focused on the needs of your ideal worker. We include an example that will give you fresh ideas to help you improve your job postings. 

Match This Worker-Focused Tone in Your Job Ads

With your job posting focused on the needs of your ideal worker, now it’s time to create an ad to match. You’ll want to promote your job opening on social media. You may also want to post it on job boards, help wanted ads, maybe even local billboards. 

But in all of your promotion, eliminate the “Now Hiring” mindset.  Instead, turn your focus to the worker and why they will love working for your company. 

In part two… What Motivates and Drives Away Great Employees?

In Part Two of this article, we will go deeper about what motivates those ideal workers to apply for your job openings and what demotivates them in their current job. We’ll share another free resource you can use to not only reach workers more effectively, but also better retain the great people you already have on your team. 

» READ PART TWO: What Motivates And Drives Away Great Employees?

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