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The Marshall Plan: Is It Time to Rethink Your Hiring Strategy?

(October/November 2018) posted on Tue Dec 04, 2018

Competing in a tight labor market may require different approaches to recruiting.


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By Marshall Atkinson

As a coach for the decorated apparel industry, I field questions from my clients and other shops continually on one topic these days – hiring. If you are looking to fill a position right now, you know what a tight job market we are currently facing.  

At this writing, the unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, which is about the lowest it has been since 2000. This means that finding people, even for entry-level positions, is tough. Need a production manager, seasoned creative artist, or press operator? Good luck, especially if your shop isn’t located in a larger city with a deep well of talent.

When it’s difficult to find the right people for your shop, it’s time to rethink your hiring strategy.   

Start With a Job Description

Sounds easy enough, but you would be surprised at the number of shops I talk to that have never written job descriptions for their businesses.  

Define the minimum qualifications needed for the job. List what the employee will be doing all day. Think about a pay range. Map out how people advance in your company. Specify who this person will report to every day.



If you can’t articulate these basic facts, then it’s no wonder you can’t find the right people. A well-written job description gives you a starting point when you want to list an opening on a job board, promote it at an employment fair, or discuss it with a recruiter. Job descriptions should really be mandatory in your business. 

Pay Attention

Are you aware what other shops near you are paying for the same position? Why would someone want to come work for you if they would be making less? Although it’s true that people normally don’t leave their jobs over money, they surely don’t start one with the idea of going backward.

You need to be competitive. Sure, it sucks that labor is your biggest outlay of cash, but without people, nothing happens. It might be time to raise your starting pay rates to attract new blood to your company.

Also, don’t always think about employment expense (or investment) in terms of the paycheck amount. Do you offer healthcare? More vacation days a year? Bonuses or other carrots you can dangle? 

Multi-Direction Recruiting


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