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We often hear that “Our people are our greatest asset” but I think a lot of employers say this, as if saying it out loud makes it true. If that worked, Manly would win every Grand Final because I’ve repeatedly said that “Manly is the greatest footy team ever!” Unfortunately, verbalising it, is simply not enough.

It’s no secret that many factors contribute to a successful business, such as location, product offering, marketing, technology etc. Having said that, there are tonnes of examples of poorly located businesses or businesses with limited product offerings outperforming their competitors. The differentiator is almost always the employees and their capabilities coupled with their passion and drive. The point is that in order for “Our people to be our greatest asset” we have to implement strategies that attract and retain the best talent.

So, whether we like it or not, employees will have a significant impact on our business performance. In order for this impact to be positive, employers should set in place a combination of systems or strategies that are designed to engage employees. These include a well planned recruitment and selection process, remuneration and incentives, culture, environment, management style etc.

In this article we’ll unpack some practical (and inexpensive) tips for hiring the best talent in today’s highly competitive job market:

Staff Referrals

This should be a no-brainer. The people already working for you know other people, chances are if your staff are high performers, they’ll hang out with other high performers – tap into these networks when you’re hiring. Proactively ask your team for referrals, perhaps even offer an incentive for a successful hire or for new employees who pass their probation period.


If someone is already paying to use your service or product there’s a good chance they like what you’re doing and understand it’s value. Ask your team for a list of customers who they think would make good colleagues, and why?


Hopefully you have are blessed with excellent suppliers who have both a great understanding of your business and the general market. A good supplier may bring market intel to your business that could revolutionise how you operate. Definitely worth considering this talent source.


Maybe your competitors are a bunch of jerks and they can’t do anything right, but chances are they’re fighting the same business struggles that you are, they might even have trained their staff how to overcome these issues. Think of competitors as an amateur sports team, players (employees) learn their skills and cut their teeth here, when they’re ready, you draft them up to the pro league (your company). This strategy not only assists you to source candidates, it also positions your brand as aspirational for competitors employees – “when i have experience, I want to work for XXX” has a pretty nice ring to it and provides you with a steady stream of talent. It’s worth noting that poaching staff is a two way street, your competitors may try to lure your staff, you can overcome this by offering a more compelling workplace (culture, remuneration, management style, benefits etc).

Social Media

Do you advertise your vacant roles on Social Media? No? WTF? Your employees, customers and suppliers are on social media – share vacancies with them and enlist them and their networks to find you the best people. Afterall, it’s in their interest.

Johnny wants his old job back….

I’ve often heard employers say they “won’t hire an ex-employee”. Obviously some previous staff members are better off working elsewhere, but let’s not allow ego to dictate policy. People leave for numerous reasons, it’s worth considering ex-staff when new vacancies exist, if they’re a great fit for the job, they’re a great fit, regardless of whether they’ve worked for you previously.

Should i really do Ref Checks?

Professional recruiters use reference checks as both an opportunity to validate a candidate’s experience and as a business development opportunity. We can learn from this, next time you do a reference check, take note of the referees experience and maintain contact with them if you think the referee might also be a good fit for your business.

Keep a list

This is right up there with “Staff Referrals” and I shouldn’t have to mention it here, but it’s so effective that I can’t skip past it. KEEP A LIST of potential candidates you meet in your daily life, it could be the lady at the bank, or a the local barista, if you think they might be a good potential employee put their name on your list. It’ll save you a ton of time when you really don’t have any to spare.

Candidate experience & Technology

Following on from keeping a list, if you find yourself hiring more than 1 person per month it’s time to get some technology to help automate and streamline your recruitment. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) help to dramatically shorten the time and costs associated with recruitment. Additionally a good ATS will ensure a great candidate experience and will identify high quality candidates based on your specific needs. As your business scales you may also get benefit from an Onboarding tool &/or a HRIS – more on these in another article.

Unsuccessful candidates

Lastly, it’s most likely that you’ll reject more candidates than you’ll hire, lots more. Society has taught us that rejection is a bad thing, it’s not, it’s just a part of life. However a freshly rejected candidate who also happens to be your number 1 customer may not feel the same way. Recent research indicates that up to 30% of rejected candidates refuse to be customers of the business that rejected them. 30%!!!!  You can turn the tables on this statistic by giving every applicant (especially the unsuccessful ones) a small gift voucher or a discount next time they buy from you. This will go a long way to ensuring they stay a customer and ease the pain of rejection.

In summary “your staff really are your greatest asset” and they represent the best chance you have to grow a healthy thriving business. As a manager, having a well planned recruitment strategy makes good business sense, the only alternative is to sit around and blame yourselffor having mediocre staff (and a struggling business).



Dave Johnson is the Corporate Engagement Lead for JobAdder – Australia’s leading recruitment software provider. Prior to joining JobAdder, Dave was Head of People & Culture for A2K Technologies. Dave was also founder of “call Dave…” a boutique recruitment agency which specialised in recruiting for Youth Brands, specifically youth fashion brands, providing recruitment solutions for both national and international clients and candidates across multiple fields including: Sales; Marketing; Design; Development; Finance; Management and Retail.

Dave’s career experience includes +20 year in Senior HR, Sales, Product and Recruitment roles, working for brands such as Rip Curl, Volcom and GXY Search

In 2015, Dave completed a Masters degree (Business HR) formalising his prior knowledge and developing his strategic skills.  Dave will provide a series of recruitment and HR articles in 2018 and we welcome his contribution to our team so we better serve the industry’s recruitment needs into the future.

“In an effort to provide added value to the Action Sports community, ASBMAG has partnered with JobAdder to deliver a comprehensive recruitment solution for jobseekers and employers alike.” Dave Johnson, Corporate Engagement Lead for JobAdder and Founder of ‘call Dave’ Recruitment Agency.