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Steps to Implement Green Recruiting

A recruiting expert and management professor at San Francisco State University, suggests these steps for companies interested in "green recruiting."

Saturday, September 1, 2007
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Identify candidate decision criteria. If you can't show that a large number of quality applicants consider a firm's environmental record as one of their primary criteria for selecting a job, you'll never get senior management to buy into a major green recruiting effort.

Start by holding focus groups at industry conferences to identify what "green" factors would be important to individuals seeking new jobs. Next, ask candidates during interviews and on the Web site to list their decision criteria.

During orientation, ask those who accepted jobs what criteria they used to make the decision.

Finally, contact those who rejected your offers three to six months down the line to identify positives and negatives. Use this information to modify your recruiting processes and focus.

Benchmark. Search the Web, benchmark with college recruiters and work with recruiting consultants to identify the best practices of other firms. Use this competitive analysis to gauge your success and to plan your future actions.

Your Web site. Make sure that both "what you do" and the results of those efforts are prominent on your corporate careers Web site. Include your recycling statistics, as well as whether you are carbon neutral, limit greenhouse gases or win environmental awards. Include narrative or video profiles of your environmentally conscious employees.

If your company policies allow, link your corporate jobs site on major (but primarily nonpolitical) environmental Web sites.

Be talked about. If you have a strong environmental record, it's important to get "written up" in business, professional and industry publications as well as in newspapers and on TV.

Work with the PR department to identify which of your practices are most likely to be appealing to the media and designate an individual to be available for interviews.

It's also critical to constantly scan the Web to identify and quickly counter any "negative" comments on your environmental record (e.g., Starbucks has done an excellent job but Apple is currently struggling in this area).

Recruitment advertising. Advertise in magazines that candidates who are sensitive to the environment are likely to read. Highlight in your recruitment ads a few "eye-catching" facts and any environmental awards you might have won.

If you use brochures or paper recruiting materials, make sure they're from recyclable stock and that it says so on the document.

Job descriptions. Make sure that, where possible, job descriptions for high-volume hiring positions include responsibilities for minimizing negative environmental impacts.

This is critical because if job seekers don't see being environmentally friendly integrated into "every job" at the company, they might see your "green recruiting" as merely a PR effort.

If you're really serious, include knowledge of environmental impacts under the skills-required section of your job descriptions.

Interviews. Provide managers with "green" fact sheets to use during interviews. If you are really aggressive, provide candidates with a side-by-side comparison showing how your firm's environmental record is superior to other firms they might be considering.

Sourcing. One of the best ways to strengthen your environmental image is to hire lots of environmentally friendly employees who can spread your "green" story through word of mouth.

Have your recruiting team identify the sources that produce the highest-quality environmentally friendly candidates.

Source at environmental organizations (i.e., Sierra Club). Also, recruit at environmental events and use subscription lists from green publications for e-mail and direct-mail recruiting.

Employer referrals. Having your employees spreading the word will help both recruiting and product sales.

If you have the resources, proactively seek out employees who are highly visible in environmental circles and ask them specifically to talk up your firm, to seek out candidates and to provide you with names. 

Awards. Winning awards for excellence is always a major element of building an employment brand, so obviously winning "environmental" awards should be a major element of your strategy.

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Advisory group. Ask the advice of six to eight environmentally friendly employees about measuring the quality of the message you're sending and how to reach and convince more applicants of your strong "green" record.

Products. Obviously, applicants want to know that the products they are helping to produce are environmentally friendly. This means putting pressure on product advertising and marketing to include in your product ads and packaging the fact that your products are eco-friendly.

In some industries, how you treat vendors and outsourced work can be important (i.e., Starbucks, Nike). 

Value statements. Make sure that your corporate goals, values and even corporate business objectives include environmental elements.

Annual report. Because some applicants take the time to read your annual report, make sure it includes sections that highlight your environmental record and the fact that you recruit environmentally friendly employees.

If your firm uses bio-diesel fuel, pays fair market value to suppliers, is energy-efficient or if it buys "carbon offsets," highlight these selling points.

Employee benefits. Consider adding holistic health options, paid time to volunteer for environmental causes, matching donations to green causes, and support for alternative transportation options to your benefit package.

Reward criteria. Include this factor in the performance-appraisal system for all employees. Obviously, use it as a hiring criterion, but also use it as a critical element in promotions, bonuses and pay increases.

Develop metrics and rewards. Because whatever you measure improves and adding rewards to the equation makes the behavior improve even faster, your green-recruiting effort must have metrics and rewards tied to it.

Some of the metrics you want to include are the percentage of candidates aware of your strong environmental record, the number who reject offers because of a poor record and the percentage of new hires who say your environmental record was one of their top-five reasons for accepting the offer.

Hold post-exit interviews with your top performers to identify whether environmental factors contributed to their exit.

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