How to Recruit, Hire and Retain Great People

Dr. Kerry Johnson

Steve is a successful business owner. He has 20 years of experience and has never faced hiring challenges like today. 10 years ago, he was awash in applications. He had his pick of good candidates.

But now the unemployment rate is only 3.6%. The labour participation rate is also a low 62%. That means 38% of those who could work, won’t. Much of this is due to the Great Resignation. During Covid, many decided they didn’t like where they worked or even where they lived. These “Great Resigners” under the age of 55 will use up much of their savings and eventually rejoin the workforce. Those over 55 will also use up much of their retirement savings. At some point, they will need more income. But all of those who are part of the Great Resignation will lose valuable skills the longer they are unemployed.

All this means your chances of finding a good candidate are worse than at any time in the last 40 years. But if you hire wrong, it will set you back months. You need someone good now.

The biggest problem is not hiring the wrong people. It’s keeping the wrong people.

You are very likely to retain a marginal performer for too long and decrease your chance of growth. What is your system to recruit and interview? Like a lot of managers, you use job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and LinkedIn. Then you wing the interview. The hiring decision can’t be a guess or a gut feeling. It has to be a mix of your interviewing skills, placement testing, and past performance. But it first starts with finding good people.

Here are a few ideas to make your next hiring decision the right one.

Tip 1 - Don’t waste time in the hiring process

There are many sources you can use to find good people. Job boards like ZipRecruiter, Indeed and LinkedIn can get you more resumes than you can read. But 75% of resumes contain both exaggerations, and sometimes, outright lies. At some point, you will need to talk to the best ones. The problem is good ones are hard to find. 98 aren’t right for the position, 2 seem good. The trap is spending weeks filtering and wasting hours each day trying to find a good candidate.

You could also hire a headhunter costing 6 months of your new hire’s pay. And after the trial period is up, the new hire may quit leaving you with the fee.

The Answer? Virtual Voicemail

Post on a job board and include a brief description of the position. Also, include at the end of the post a “voicemail only” line candidates can call for more information. Leave an extensive message on the duties, hours and benefits. Then use these words, “Please leave up to a 1-minute message on what you have done that has prepared you to be successful in this position.”

A few will hang up. More will ramble without answering the question. A precious few will leave a coherent, articulate message with a contact you can follow up with. This method will also allow you to listen to messages on your cell during commute time. The most important benefit is: You will find a great person without wasting your time.

As you listen to candidate voicemails, select for energy and past performance. You can train for skills. Do they sound energetic? Do they sound enthusiastic? Did they talk about past experience and success? Did they answer the question?

A bad candidate will leave an unenthusiastic voicemail stating, “Yeah, my name is John. I want to hear more about the job. Call me at 817-444-2222,” Click! But a candidate you want to call back will say energetically, “Hi, my name is Betsy. I have worked as an administrative assistant for the past 10 years and helped my boss create a new team and department in the company. It now leads all the other divisions. I look forward to talking about your opportunity. Please call me at 714-333-2222.”

A bad candidate left no information about past experience, while the other presented herself as a good performer worth interviewing.

Tip 2 - Always be recruiting!

The reason most of my coaching clients at first are unsuccessful at finding candidates is that they only recruit when desperate. During Covid, remote work seemed like the only option. Now many workers have left. Some permanently resigned in the Great Resignation. If you lost an employee and are now struggling to find a replacement, it’s because you forgot the marketing lessons you used to build your business. You should always be growing your practice and recruiting every day. Dig the well before you are thirsty.

According to US government stats, 68% of those now working are currently looking for another opportunity. They are called active candidates. But another 15% are passive candidates. They aren’t looking but would make a change in employment if presented with the right opportunity. You will never find passive candidates without recruiting. Don’t rely on job boards. Treat the recruiting process like a sales process.

Tell your colleagues, friends and even clients about the job and type of person you are looking for. Make it part of a daily conversation. Then ask who they know who could be good. They will initially hear you say, “Who do you know who needs a job?” You should repeat again, “Who do you know who could be good regardless of whether they need a job?”

Managers and owners like you have files of candidates they have interviewed over the years. They may not have hired someone only because they found a better candidate. But that person may be right for you. When you get the name of a potential candidate, call them as if you were calling a referred lead.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Olympia Trust Company, Olympia Financial Group Inc., or any of its affiliates. The author’s views and opinions are based upon information they consider reliable, but neither Olympia Trust Company, Olympia Financial Group Inc. nor any of its affiliates, warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such.

Dr. Kerry Johnson
MBA, Ph.D.

Dr. Kerry Johnson, MBA, Ph.D., is “America’s Business Psychologist.” He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including the just-released “How to Recruit, Hire and Retain Great People.” He is a frequent speaker at financial conferences around the world. Peak Performance Coaching, his one-on-one coaching program, promises to increase your business by 80% in 8 weeks. To see if you are a candidate for this fast-track system, click on and take a free evaluation test. You will learn about your strengths and what is holding you back. I would love to send you a free video on “The Virtual Voice Mail.” Write me at or call 714-368-3650. We will spend 10 minutes talking about your goals for increasing your business this year.