Recruiting is Not a Numbers Game

Solidarity Sunday: Recruiting is Not a Numbers Game

Because of our success helping local unions in recruiting, I'm often contacted by other businesses who have the same problem: finding quality people to fill open jobs. Sound familiar?

In this case it was a corporate headhunter; someone who recruits people for specific (and usually high-paying) C-suite corporate gigs. He was having difficulty cutting through.

In an off-handed comment he said, "It's a numbers game."

I replied, "There's your problem."

Recruiting is not a "numbers game". The only numbers game I can think of are possibly commodities traders, or gamblers, or computer programmers (1's and 0's).

Recruiting and organizing is a faith game. To attract and convert new members, they must have faith that you can deliver on their felt need. And story is your path to creating faith.

I'm not suggesting that you don't have to reach a certain amount of people in order to find a percentage of them who will convert to become your members. That's a given. I'm suggesting that looking at it as a numbers game is the wrong way of thinking about it.

We as local unions are not in the numbers game. We are in the story game. We're in the people game. We are in the family game. We are in the "have something to show for your life's work" game. We are in the higher purpose game. We are in the "being the best version of yourself" game. It's called the labor movement for a reason.

Author and story expert Annette Simmons puts it this way in her book The Story Factor:

"People don't want more information. They're up to their eyeballs in information. They want faith - faith in you, in the story you tell. It is faith that moves mountains, not facts. Facts do not give birth to faith. Faith needs a story to sustain it - a meaningful story that inspires belief in you and renews hope that your ideas, do indeed, offer what you promise. Genuine influence goes deeper than getting people to do what you want them to do. It means people pick up where you left off because they believe. Faith can overcome any obstacle, achieve any goal. Money, power, authority, political advantage, and brute force have all, at one time or another, been overcome by faith."

We value our own conclusions more than others. The aim of our organizing and recruiting efforts is for them to come to their own conclusion that what we sell as a local union is a better story than what they are currently experiencing. You don't want to tell them your story so much as you want them to see themselves in your story. Once your story becomes their story, you've got a member whose faith in your local union can move mountains.

Your organizing efforts starts with your story. Once you get your story right, the 'numbers game' will take care of itself.

Get in the Story Telling Game

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