Recruiting Outside of the Box with Arte Nathan

In yesterday’s Advisor we began to explore an episode of our HR Works podcast focusing on recruiting. Today we’ll hear more from the great discussion between our Managing Editor Steve Bruce and HR and Recruiting expert Arte Nathan. If you would like, feel free to listen to this episode (number 28) on our HR Works podcast.

Steve Bruce
Now you advocate thinking outside the box when you’re recruiting. What outside the box trends and techniques have you seen? What options are available and how do you take advantage of them?
Arte Nathan
I think the traditional best option has always been asking current employees if they have family and friends whom they’d like to recommend. That is a referral that is almost gold-plated, and it works great. I would suggest that, that’s the primary alternate recruiting that people should use. Secondarily, I think that you should create networks. I will tell you in my company, Wynn Resorts, whenever the board of directors or any of our management team would go and stay in another hotel, play in another casino, or even another restaurant we would always want to get feedback from them at those places that they thought highly of. We went out and we targeted to recruit there. We’d just go in and watch people and meet them and give them our cards and try to recruit them. I think that we have a lot of networking opportunities with our own people that we don’t use the most of.
I think that there are family and friends, but you can expand that one. I did a program with a group of local churches where I went to the ministers and I said, “Look, you must have people in your congregation that are unemployed or underemployed is there anybody you’d like to recommend to us and we’ll give you a finder’s fee.” All the ministers went crazy with that and they damn well flooded us with people. We were lucky enough to hire some of those people, I think the ministers got the rewards and enjoyed that. That was a good thing.
In [inaudible 00:09:49] people use the workforce investment one stops more and more and I think that’s good. There are certain groups within those one stops that they advocate for, you know they advocate for disabled people, unemployed people, and veterans and we’re all very familiar with that, but they also represent people with criminal backgrounds. People who are getting released from incarceration and I think that that is becoming an unbelievable source for companies that are open to considering it and getting help and figuring out how to maximize their opportunities with it.
You mentioned that I was on the board of Hope for Prisoners. That’s a Las Vegas nonprofit that has been very successful in training and placing recently released ex-offenders. People who have earned the right … Well, they’ve served their time. If they earned the right to a second chance I think that we in the employment world should give them an opportunity.
It has to be one that is very controlled in the beginning so that companies and hiring managers and supervisors gain their confidence in dealing with a group like this. It’s not that these people are all that different, it’s just that they have very little experience and confidence with them. We have seen some extraordinary results. You figured that someone who has earned a second chance and doesn’t want to blow that second chance, they’re highly motivated. You know an awful lot about them if you’re a hiring manager or a recruiter because the prison system and the people like us who help them to transition have a lot of information about them. Organizations like ours present them with a whole host of mentoring support that helps them and helps the perspective employer. This person if they get a job they will … We have found, and we do research with the University of Nevada, they have found that these people are never late for work, they never take a day off, and they never say no because they’re so afraid of not making the most of this second chance.
This is one of those things that most of the companies of recruiters I talk to their eyes get very wide when I tell them this. People worry about negligent hiring. People worry about what if they do something? What if they steal from me or are violent in the workplace? I will tell you that someone who has served their time and they go through a complete vetting. You know more about these people than you know through your general background checks of the general applicants that you’re hiring. This is one of those alternate recruiting sources that is very surprising.
I was lucky, I backed into it working for Wynn. We were asked by a local politician to consider one of his constituents. The guy was an ex-gang banger and it was frightening; we didn’t know anything about it. Because this guy came along with a lot of support and mentoring that one example became a good role model for others and other managers started looking at this and saying that’s pretty cool. Over time we hired hundreds at Wynn and that’s how I got experience with this. Now working with this nonprofit we’re doing it on a broader scale here in Southern Nevada and we’re also starting to teach communities across the U.S. how to operate a model like ours in other communities and this is going to be a growing thing.
I was in Iowa over the summer. Iowa has about a 3% unemployment rate believe it or not. They are out of applicants. The war for talent is stalling out because they don’t get people applying. I have to tell you, they’re looking at this group of men and women, the number of people in jail and the number of people getting out of incarceration every day, every month, every year, it’s a huge population and it’s one that we should look at. I just think this is another area of diversity that we need to get more experience at. Over the years, and I’ve been doing this a long time, diversity has taken on a number of looks and feels and most companies had to figure out how to make the most of it. Whether it was with race or age or gender those were interesting and actually easier than what we’re seeing now with things like ex-offenders. I just think it’s a fascinating opportunity that I’m an advocate for.
Next week’s Recruiting Daily Advisor will bring you the conclusion of this valuable podcast.
HR Works is our very own podcast run by the managing editor of, Chris Ceplenski.

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