10 Ways to Draw Interest In A Lame Job + 50 Benefits People Love

By Maren Hogan

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I present often on how to get people interested in jobs, otherwise known as employer branding. While this particular presentation focuses on getting people interested in boring, gross, and generally just dirty jobs, I always get the same question:

How do I get people interested in a dead end job?

Well, maybe not exactly that question but something like it. Maybe it pays peanuts, perhaps there are no real benefits. It might even be a job people would rather not do (like work) but every audience member in every city is no doubt thinking, as I break down candidate personas, employer branding campaigns and editorial calendars for recruitment marketing:

Sure but this won’t work for MY JOBS.

Yeah, it will. Here are some practical ideas to get people interested in any job, anywhere, at any time, given by other audience members (read: real recruiters) when I stuttered and stumbled my way through an answer:

For a $10 an hour job with no benefits.

“For people who want to fight the man or who have no desire, your job is to give them something to look forward to.” That could be something as small as free sodas in the break room or as a search for meaning (ideal for non-profits or even recruiting firms teaching new grads how to manage their career during an internship). One recruiter shared how he simply told applicants they could wear what they wanted and listen to all their own music while packing boxes in the warehouse, a less than a glamorous job for sure, and one no one was knocking down doors to get.

For people who would prefer not to have a job at all.

Despite the renaissance being long over, there are many artists still in our midst. For those who would rather sketch or sing, your “lame” job may offer the perfect solution for their desire to pursue their art while still feeding themselves or their family.

For the opposite of a desk job.

Hiring garbage men or those who have to clean out port-a-potties? Emphasize the outdoor nature of the work and the fact that while it’s a dirty job, someone’s got to do it. Many folks would rather march to the beat of their own drum. If you can give them the rhythm they need to do so…

For a job most would turn down at first blush.

Trying to sell someone in an industry you (and they) think is abhorrent? Take advice from those who’ve had to recruit animal testers and tobacco jobs and emphasize how much they’re needed by the company. For jobs no one else wants, the companies (many of whom have deep pockets) are forced to rely on a much slimmer pool. Should you choose to recruit for these difficult positions, you have the ability to make candidates feel very important. You may even get the budget.

For a job that seems devoid of meaning.

Find the meaning. Look no further than Mike Rowe, the dirty jobs guy. Dude has parlayed a chin dimple into a highly coveted career where he basically just offers gratitude to a group of people who’ve gone constantly overlooked. Meaning is how a chain of slaughterhouses goes from that to a protein company that “feeds the world”, it’s how a small marketing agency for HR Tech goes from that to “making work better”. You don’t need to offer a laundry list of benefits, just choose the ones that apply to your company. Somebody somewhere will buy what you’re selling. Here are some benefits many companies could or do offer (that they don’t really get are benefits):

  1. Flexible scheduling
  2. Job sharing
  3. Work from home hours
  4. Free or low-cost food
  5. Rides to work
  6. Proximity to candidates’ home or school
  7. No dress code
  8. No phone work
  9. All phone work
  10. No computer skills
  11. No set offices
  12. Private offices
  13. Lots of coworker interaction
  14. Little to NO coworker interaction
  15. ROWE (Results based work environment)
  16. Gym onsite or subsidized membership
  17. Health coverage
  18. No customer interaction
  19. Willing to hire ex-convicts
  20. Willing to hire ex-SAHMs
  21. The ability to watch TV while working
  22. The ability to listen to music while working
  23. The ability to surf social media while working
  24. A set schedule
  25. A flexible schedule
  26. A schedule that matches school schedules or daycare schedules
  27. Benefits for full and part-time workers
  28. Discounts on company merchandise or services
  29. Access to the latest books/games/music/software/tech/movies
  30. A company phone
  31. A company car
  32. A company computer
  33. Contests
  34. Pay for performance
  35. Meetings or consistent gatherings
  36. A recognition program
  37. Programs that have defined timelines and goals
  38. A short commute time
  39. An easy to access destination
  40. Continuing formal education (tuition reimbursement, internal training, certification support)
  41. Continuing informal education (conference stipend, e-course training, book allowance)
  42. Reading clubs, cooking classes, technology classes onsite or taught by other employees
  43. Lunch n Learns
  44. Willing to hire retirees
  45. Willing to hire veterans
  46. Willing to hire LGBTQ
  47. Willing to hire those without a formal degree
  48. Willing to hire those with a gap in the resume
  49. Offering 5-10-20% time to entrepreneurial-minded employees
  50. Offering a mentoring program and/or volunteer opportunities

For a job that will suck the life out of you.

Offer it, AND a picture of what their life might look like after they complete their “mission”. Perhaps the job will take 60 hour weeks for two years but after that, the employee may have their pick of jobs within the company, including management opportunities. Maybe it will be very difficult to do the job initially but once he or she has mastered the skills necessary they’ll be able to move on to other things.

For a temporary job that’s just plain hard.

What is the payoff? If there’s no payoff at all, good luck to you, but usually with jobs that are difficult and arduous, you’ll see that those that make it through are often rewarded with permanent employment or supervisory responsibilities (and pay). Market the payoff and the life lessons learned from “sticking it out”.

For a job that has no discernible “upside”.

You know the line of thinking where even if you only work out one time a week, you’re still doing better than the person on the couch? Well, that applies here. Even if you’re doing the worst job you can imagine, it’s still better than doing nothing at all. The worst jobs can often prepare us for the best. My summer spent calling tanning salons ALL over the US made it easier for me to jump into selling my own company when the time came.

For a job where you can’t use ANY of your normal tricks.

I’ve had people ask me about how to work with jobs that require a security clearance or where they have to recruit candidates who spend all day away from any media at all. While I cannot answer the latter, the former requires judicious use of boards (if any) and lots of under the radar “Branding”. However, the one thing these recruiters (god bless em) CAN control is their own emails and phone calls to the candidate. While this helps less with the sourcing portion of the recruiting puzzle, you can paint a beautiful picture of what the job could look like. With the $$$ you’ve saved not using every board and ad under the sun, you can hire a copywriter to make your emails sing.

How to hire for the same old job, in a BRAND new region.

You knew I was gonna say it…build a candidate persona. Many have heard my story of the Midwest pharmacy company who wanted to expand on both coasts. Trying to sell a Minnesota 10 (NYC 7, Cali 6) in all three locations won’t work. Instead, find out what drives your persona in your two new locations (hint: it will not be your employer brand) and speak to that. Recognize that more than compensation will change as you recruit.

There you have it folks, 10 ways you can alter your strategy to recruit for the tough jobs. Did I miss a benefit? Did I forget to mention your favorite way to recruit for a tough cookie of a job? Hit me up in the comments.

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