The Co-Op Recruiting Conundrum: Look At These 5 Tips To Increase Success

March 21, 2019

Ashley Meyer

Ashley Meyer

Recruiting for a co-op is a difficult mission. There are some unique challenges and the talent market is very scarce. The following tips can help you overcome your hurdles when co-op recruiting.

Attractive 30s woman working at office with telephone

Cooperative businesses, or co-ops, are a great way for smaller companies or businesses to come together and compete in today’s global market. But they face some unique challenges that make finding top talent difficult.

  • Same needs. Every co-op needs a location or site manager, location sales team, transportation experts and more; and because of these common needs, competition for talent is fierce.
  • Small talent pool. Most cooperative businesses are in rural or small communities with limited populations, making the talent pool even more restricted.
  • Seasonality. Co-ops tend to have changes in demand, meaning they often have to ramp up production quickly and then decelerate. Recruiting to fit this fluctuating cycle is extremely difficult for internal hiring teams.
  • Reach. Finding talent and drawing them to your community means reaching talent in the first place. This can be very difficult and an ever-changing challenge.

While co-ops are on the rise, as reported by Fast Company, and bringing more stability and wealth to smaller and rural communities, the rise of cooperative businesses puts added pressure on recruitment efforts.

The big problem for co-ops is the struggle to find passive talent and create a pool of potential hires. Co-ops, like any large company, need strong leadership and top employment recruits to succeed. But they’re often located in rural areas or smaller communities where the population is limited, and unemployment rates are so low that it’s hard to find interested talent that fits the bill. This is why being proactive when recruiting for co-ops is so important.

Being proactive in pursuing passive talent for a co-op takes a change in approach and sometimes attitude. The following tips can help you pull the best recruits into your business.

1. Be competitive. 

Because all co-ops are basically competing for the same people you need to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Your brand means everything. If your company is one that creates excitement, has positive buzz, and leaves a good impression everywhere it goes – that matters when attracting talent. Social media and branding are big recruitment tools.

2. Focus on passive candidates. 

When your talent pool consists of only active job seekers, you’re often missing the best of the best. Because the top talent in small markets is already employed, you need to find market leaders and convince them that your company is where they belong.

3. Proactive outreach. 

One of the most obvious ways to be proactive is to always be looking and to let people know who you are. Good, old-fashioned cold calling is still one of the best ways to connect.

4. Increase your talent funnel. 

To successfully recruit in a rural or small community, you need to triple the job reach of an urban area just to find the right person. This is no small task and often takes outside help.

5. Word of mouth. 

One of the best ways to promote a co-op is the oldest way. Word of mouth marketing is key in smaller communities where everyone knows everything. The people you connect with regularly have a broad reach and they collectively have more power than you realize.

At times like these, when the unemployment rates are 4% across the board and as low as 1.5% in rural communities, a new approach to hiring is crucial. Broad-scope talent searches are key to hiring in remote areas but they’re difficult to manage because it’s not something that’s done daily, and your core staff is busy doing what they’re best suited for. This is when a strategic partner is key.

Consider that it takes, on average, 80 hours of passive candidate searching to fill a salaried role. Many people in co-op do not have that sort of time free to dedicate to finding a candidate, yet this is an important decision that can’t be left up to chance.

If you’re looking for someone to help your recruiting efforts, we’d love to start a conversation. We’ll dedicate our time to finding you the most qualified candidate for the position.


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