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Agent Diary: ‘We needed to think outside of the box to hire new talent’

The lack of job applicants is holding back the recovery, but thinking outside the box has helped us to recruit, says Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley.

Two-and-a-half years ago, when we last looked at hiring someone, we were inundated with people interested in joining – really we were.

We heard from people wanting new careers in travel at the start of their working lives, some wanting to change career direction and some in travel wanting to work for a different business. We could cherry-pick from the applicants.

If felt good. People wanted to join us, people were keen and we got to select the person who was most suitable for the position.

Now, it’s a very different story.  Are you seeing the same? I have a feeling many of you are as I’ve seen lots of Facebook statuses with details of how fellow agents are currently looking for new recruits.

What’s changed? Well, I suppose it must be people’s perspective of the travel trade. They might be thinking ‘how stable would a career in travel be right now?’

Recruitment woes

We are also having to seek staff at the lower end of the spectrum in terms of salaries while we continue the recovery journey.

So, all that considered, I suppose we don’t sound like much of an attractive career at the moment. But many of us need staff to handle sales and enquiries in order to bounce back.

“We placed an advert on all the local Facebook pages – that is usually enough – and waited. Nothing.”

Embarking on this new recruitment journey made me wonder how travel agencies typically advertise for a new employee, especially when we are all having to be extra careful with what we spend our money on.

We placed an advert on all the local Facebook pages – that is usually enough – and waited. Nothing. We boosted via Facebook, still nothing.

We contacted Indeed.com, as we’d heard through many channels that this was a relatively cheap way to advertise for a job and that many jobseekers use this medium. Indeed did generate a few messages, but nothing suitable and nothing that went further than a message or two.

Different approach

Given that we were having a bit of trouble recruiting through the traditional channels, we then thought we needed to think outside of the box.

So we sent emails to local colleges, thinking that maybe they might have some students who might prefer to work and learn at the same time.

Ideally, we wanted an apprentice, because the government is part-funding the recruitment of apprentices at present.

“We sent emails to local colleges, thinking that maybe they might have some students who might prefer to work and learn at the same time.”

Thank goodness, this strategy worked – and I wish we’d thought of it first. The emails were free, and we have someone starting who is already showing an interest in travel and tourism. The college is able to provide a good reference too.

We’re hoping this recruitment will not only give a job in an exciting industry to a young person setting out on the first steps of their career, but also help us make as many crucial sales in our Covid recovery journey.

Good luck to all of you who are also looking for new staff.


Apprentice

Hire an apprentice

In the past, I used to be rather wary of taking on an apprentice. Even as I write this column, that sounds silly, as I myself started my career as an apprentice. But now I love the scheme as a way to recruit. My best staff joined as apprentices and the scheme has allowed them to grow their careers within the business at the same time as gaining qualifications, all of which help the business too.

“My best staff joined as apprentices and the scheme has allowed them to grow their careers within the business at the same time as gaining qualifications.”

The support you receive from the apprentice companies is superb and it ultimately is a scheme that really does work. I would thoroughly recommend it to other travel agencies.

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