Mark JorgensenAttracting Great Employees — in 2009 it’s more challenging than ever before

Synopsis: Despite the economic downturn and widespread unemployment it’s still a “seller’s market” for those with experience in funeral service. Learn more about the challenges owners face and potential solutions for locating and hiring outstanding funeral directors and managers.

By Mark Jorgensen, President

Global Recruiters of Batesville, Indiana

A barrage of headlines assaults us daily about declining business and rising unemployment in our global economy. Local media detail layoffs and job eliminations across a wide array of industries as unemployment rolls grow weekly. From all indications, it’s a “buyer’s market” for skilled, professional talent–except perhaps in the funeral service and cemetery professions.

In my daily conversations with funeral home owners and managers across the country I continue to hear that finding qualified, experienced funeral directors is one of the most vexing challenges. Simply stated, the supply of great candidates isn’t keeping pace with growing demand. So while thousands of folks may be looking for work each week attractive job opportunities in funeral service go unfilled, often for months at a time.

In this profession there’s no “magic bullet” solution for those looking to hire. If you’re seeking someone from outside your immediate market area a major consideration will now be relocation. During the past six months, increasing numbers of qualified candidates are expressing reluctance to sell their homes below market value and then venture into the mortgage market for that next house in the new community.

Careers of spouses and significant others pose a similar challenge during relocation. Those with marketable skills and experience, who may have easily obtained employment in 2008, are likely faced with a longer, more difficult search in 2009. That may mean deferring or even eliminating the possibility of that household’s much needed second income.

In view of these challenges, it’s a good time to reevaluate your “value offering” to prospective employees. While your balance sheet may not allow you to exceed a set amount in terms of base salary, hiring that next funeral director will likely require some creativity. You may consider some of the following tactics that have worked successfully for others not only in attracting employees, but keeping them on the team long term:

  • Financial incentives- Greater earning potential through a bonus program that is funded when individual or company objectives are achieved. Structured correctly, it will guarantee you increased revenue sufficient to fund those bonuses while increasing total compensation to a valued employee;
  • Non-cash incentives- For many “time” is valued as highly as a few more dollars– a more generous vacation plan, an extra day off every 2nd or 3rd weekend, rotations on night coverage or flexible scheduling to allow for participation in leisure or children’s activities or to be the caregiver for aging parents;
  • Spouse/significant other assistance- Leveraging your extensive network in the community to identify referrals for job opportunities for that spouse or significant other who may be unfamiliar with your area. Your efforts here signal a strong commitment to the whole family in navigating through the career transition.

Of course the ultimate challenge for both parties in the hiring process is the time it requires out of your demanding schedule. You can’t be actively recruiting when families in need step into your funeral home seeking your help on a moment’s notice. Being short staffed only exacerbates that problem.

On the candidate side, the outstanding funeral director you’re looking for is likely to be actively employed and serving families in another community. She or he is probably too busy to be posting a resume on career websites. In fact, some of the best candidates may not even have a current resume.

That’s where the services of a professional recruiting and search firm like mine come into the equation. Unlike some staffing firms that simply harvest resumes of the unemployed and forward them to your inbox, our firm engages in “direct sourcing.” Working from the largest database of any company in our profession, we reach out to funeral service and cemetery professionals across the country to seek first person recommendations. We’re then able to identify, screen, interview and conduct reference checks before we brief you on the candidate’s qualifications for your specific job opportunity.

The old truism, “Time is money,” is appropriately applied to professional recruitment. While your time is focused on running your business we work in parallel to bring you outstanding candidates. By taking time (and chance) out of the process, a search firm can play a vital role in your continued success and be money well spent as good people become ever more difficult to find.

Mark Jorgensen owns and operates Global Recruiters of Batesville, Indiana, a recruiting and search firm specializing in funeral service and cemetery professions. Mark’s career has spanned thirty years of senior level sales and marketing positions. He has spent thirteen of those years in the funeral service industry in senior level management positions at The Forethought Group. There he was Vice President and General Manager.

Global Recruiters of Cincinnati
4365 Harrison Avenue, Suite 200
Cincinnati, OH 45211 USA
Phone: 812.932.1290
Fax: 513.672.9531