5 Tips for Recruiting in Unsexy Industries and Businesses
2 min read

5 Tips for Recruiting in Unsexy Industries and Businesses

Recruiting and retaining employees is hard at the best of times.

It is particularly hard in some industries. The ones where it feels like the ”sexy” businesses are attracting all the talent. Especially top talent.

But there is great talent in every industry and location. You just need a way to find it.

In this post, I’ll share practical advice on how to position your company to attract and retain the employees you need to build your business and thrive.

Built on interviews with 20+ seasoned business operators in some of the least sexy businesses going around. I learned that the way to recruit in unsexy industries and businesses can be distilled down into five simple principles.

Let’s dive in.

1. Be Clear on What You Need

Identifying what you mean by "top talent" is the first step.

If you want genuinely world-class talent then you need to be willing to pay more than average for these people. It turns out that world-class people want world class money. Not just that, but they want autonomy, leadership opportunities and potential for career advancement.

It’s better to be more precise than just “top talent”. And let’s face it, most businesses don't actually need top talent. They need reliable and thoughtful workers.

Start with this exercise:

  1. Who are your best workers, past and present?
  2. What about them makes these people your best workers?
  3. What are the gaps in your current workforce to run your business?
  4. What skills and characteristics do you need to fill your current gaps?

Once you have clearly identified who you need and why you need them, then you need to define who you are and be able to explain why people should work for you.

2. Search Out Your Unique Advantages

I know we’re talking unsexy here, but don't sell your business short.

You can find people all over the place who see the excitement in even the most mundane of businesses and industries. They believe what they do is sexy, important and fascinating. They are passionate about something that many others would find boring. They are people who want to be the best and don’t care about the industry.

Some even see it as a benefit. Boring industries mean less competition from other talented individuals. This is a chance for a lot of people to stand out.

So sell to your strengths. Find the unique advantages of working in your business and industry and sell talented people on those. Whether it’s an easier playing field, working with interesting people or even access to people or a place they wouldn’t get otherwise.

Build interest in what is immediately tangible.

3. Develop a Unique Value Proposition

Is there something your business can offer that a sexy industry or business can't?

Not everyone is looking to live in a metropolitan hub. Lots of people are looking for space, good schools, less stress, or two extra weeks off each year. You get the point.

Actively spend some time counter positioning.

Make a list of what the sexy businesses require, and see if you can offer the opposite. By standing apart, you’ll be noticed.

4. Provide an Opportunity for Growth

Good employees generally want to see opportunities for continued growth.

Some businesses and industries simply can’t offer these opportunities. Perhaps because they are so in demand and jam packed with talent. It’s hard to move up.

Do you offer the ability to continue to grow? If not, can you find a way to add this to the job description and appeal to those talented people out there.

5. Get the Word Out There

Once you have developed your message, shout it from the rooftops.

Don’t just rely on the same old job boards. Test out every channel to get your message out there.

  • Try industry specific job boards
  • Post to local and national job boards
  • Tap into international talent networks
  • If there are good recruiters who know your industry then by all means use them.

Hope this helps!