3 Secrets to Increasing Jobseeker Placement and Retention Rates and Building Stronger Employer Relationships

Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development ·

Making the perfect jobseeker-employer match is no easy task for workforce development professionals. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed a total of 12.8 million individuals were either unemployed, under-employed or marginally attached to the labor market. On the employer side, key industries report a shortage of qualified applicants for a wide range of jobs. The trick to helping jobseekers find their way to the right position with the best employer starts with a solid foundation of preparation.

If you’re a Business Services Representative, Career Coach, Job Developer, Employer Consultant or Recruiter, read this blog to help your clients (jobseekers) prepare for and land the perfect job, or from the employer perspective, help companies attract and retain great employees.

While we’re on the topic of jobseeker success and improved employer placement and retention, these are the great results you can look forward to after applying the principles you’ll learn in this blog.

As a top national workforce program operator, we have learned through trial and error and over 35 years of experience, the best practices on how to successfully place and retain our jobseekers with employers who value their contributions. We have featured countless client success stories on our website and have compiled our top advice, below, to assist workforce professionals like you:

First, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you responsible for ensuring your program exceeds your placement and retention goals?
  • Would you feel more fulfilled and successful if over 90% of the interviews you sent participants on resulted in job offers?
  • Would your job be easier if employers answered your calls and returned your e-mails?
  • Would your job be more enjoyable if you had happier employers and happier participants?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, this article is going to give you the tools you need! Follow the advice laid out in this article and you will have happier participants, more satisfied employers, and more job placements, which means you will be on your way to increasing your placement and retention performance goals and rates.


The reality is, employers do not need or want more resumes. They want qualified candidates who can show up to work consistently, with a great attitude. I have never met a single hiring manager that springs out of bed in the morning because they can’t wait to sift through resumes. On the contrary, this is typically the part of their job they dread the most.

Rather than offering to send over more resumes, it is much more effective to take an approach that is 180 degrees from the norm.

Consider the following scenario: You’re trying to find a candidate to place into a manufacturing position and you told me that you have 100+ resumes on your desk right now. You also told me that sifting through resumes is the part of your job you hate the most. That said, the last thing I want to do is give you a homework assignment and add to your growing stack of resumes. My commitment to you, is that I will do the part of your job that you hate the most, and will only reach out to you when I have someone that I would stake my reputation on. All I ask of you in return is that you will agree to interview this individual in person. The great news is that these are individuals that we have spent a considerable amount of time with, and have vetted from an attitude and attendance standpoint.

Next, I typically tell them “In order to ensure that I hit a home run 100% of the time, I will need to meet with you in person for about 45 minutes. During that meeting, I will ask you a series of questions, so that I have a better sense for exactly what you are looking for in a potential employee, and answer any questions you have of me. Additionally, I would request a tour of the facility, which will allow me to get a much better sense for what the job will entail, and better understand the work environment, pace of work, workplace culture, etc.”


Trying to find someone a job is not all that different from playing matchmaker and trying to set someone up on a blind date. If you know everything there is to know about one person, and nothing about the other individual, you are really just rolling the dice and hoping for the best. On the contrary, if you know everything there is to know about both people, your odds of making a successful match will spike dramatically. While opposites may attract when it comes to romantic relationships, I rarely find the same to be true in the business world. Companies want to hire individuals that fit their company culture, and are in alignment with their core mission, vision and values.

I simply will not send a participant out on an interview unless I have previously met with the hiring manager AND the participant in a one-to-one setting.

During my meeting with the hiring manager, I ask them a myriad of questions. The questions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • How many shifts are you currently running?
  • What are the start and stop times for each shift?
  • Which shifts do you hire for most frequently?
  • Are there shift premiums, or shift differentials?
  • Will the employees be asked to work weekend shifts?
    • If so, are weekend shifts voluntary or mandatory?
    • Will they ever be asked to work on Sunday?
    • How far in advance will they find out they are working a weekend shift?
    • How often will they be asked to work a weekend shift?
  • What are the three most important qualities you look for in an employee?
  • What are the three most common reasons someone does not work out?
  • What is your proximity to a bus route or public transportation?
  • What is the average timetable from first interview to the first day of work?
  • What does the interview process look like?
  • How likely is it that someone will progress through the ranks and get promoted?
  • Is a G.E.D. or High School Diploma a prerequisite, a nice to have, or it doesn’t matter?
  • Do you conduct background checks?
    • Are there any knockouts?
    • Do you look at the nature of the crime and the duration?
  • Do you conduct drug screens?
    • If so, do you use a hair sample, urinalysis, or cheek swab?
  • What else am I missing?
  • What else do I need to know?

Prior to sending someone on an interview, I also sit down and conduct a one-to-one interview with the participant. I let them know that they can tell me anything and everything in the interview, and that I will not hold it against them. There are two rules; (1) I need you to be 100% honest with me, and (2) absolutely no surprises.

During this interview, I ask them a myriad of questions as well. At the end of the day, I am trying to understand as much as I can about the person:

  • Their favorite job they ever had and why
  • Their least favorite job they ever had and why
  • Whether they have reliable transportation
  • Whether they have childcare constraints
  • Whether they would be able to work in extreme temperatures (extreme heat/extreme cold)
  • If they are a morning person or a night owl
  • What would the results be if an employer conducted a background check and drug screen?

It’s extremely helpful to create and utilize a map of the following during this process:

  • A map of the geographic area with bus routes overlaid on top
  • A circle with their current address
  • A star representing each of the available job openings

Once I complete the interview, I reconcile the information with my employer data and try to narrow it down to 1-3 companies (max) that I think the person will be great fit, will be happy showing up to work every day, and will be able to get to work consistently without any snags.

If someone was cold in our 70-degree classroom every day, I simply will not send them to a food manufacturer. If someone would be depending on public transportation, I try not to send them to an employer where they would have to transfer buses more than once.


I recently attended an employer forum, and one of the employers mentioned 1 out of every 10 applicants that are sent over to them are ready for the interview. After talking to numerous hiring managers over the years, most of them admit to hiring roughly 30% of the people that come in for interviews. These numbers often hold true when talking to employers that heavily lean on staffing firms and/or workforce development providers to source their candidates.

While many hiring managers, staffing firms and workforce development providers have been relatively accepting of these interview-to-hire ratios, I look at things a little bit differently. If hiring managers are hiring 3 out of every 10 people that are sent over to them, they are wasting their time 70% of the time!

During my days in staffing, we took a slightly different approach to our competitors, and were able to average a 90% interview-to-hire ratio. Over the past few months, I have been helping to place graduates of a six-week manufacturing boot camp, and have a 92% interview-to-hire ratio. In other words, I have sent people on 26 interviews, and 24 of them have resulted in a job offer.

In addition to the other secrets I have shared with you, there is one other secret ingredient that has had far and away the greatest impact – Mock Interviews.

After conducting numerous mock interviews over the years, I will tell you this. Most people don’t put their best foot forward during an interview. Furthermore, during every mock interview there is almost always one nail-in-the-coffin response. These are responses, that were they to happen in an actual interview, would have been deal breakers.

What are the best rules to conducting a mock interview?

Rule # 1 – Simulate a realistic setting

While conducting a generic mock interview is better than nothing, it significantly pales in comparison to simulating the actual interview you will be sending someone on.

If an employer conducts panel interviews, I would try to simulate a panel interview. If the interviewer is a little more subdued, I would adjust your tone and vocal inflection accordingly. If someone is going to be required to take some sort of pre-test, I would try to simulate the test to the best of your ability. This takes a little bit of extra work on your end, but it goes a long way toward reducing the participant’s nervousness.

Rule # 2 – Provide candid feedback

At the end of each interview, I ask the participant the same question, “do you want the good news or the bad news?” “The good news is that this was a mock interview. The bad news, is that if this were the real interview, I probably would not have offered you the job. This is exactly why we do this.” From there, I ask them if they are open to some candid feedback. To date, I have not heard anyone tell me no, because they know how vested I am in their success.

When providing feedback, give them the good with the bad. It is not uncommon for me to tell someone the following “if you gave me an hour to come up with an answer to question number one, I don’t think I could have come up with a better response.” On the flipside, it is not uncommon for me to be brutally honest about their responses to certain questions, their apparel, their preparedness, their tone, their punctuality, etc. If I feel like something needs to be addressed, I make sure to address it during the mock interview, so there are no surprises during the actual interview.

Rule # 3 – Set participants up for success

There are a handful of things that you can do that will make a HUGE difference.

Here is a list of my TOP 10:

1 – Provide them with a professional looking folder, and multiple copies of their resume (on professional card stock). This is in addition to any electronic forms/applications that may be required.

2 – Encourage candidate to do online research about the company and print out the About Us page from the company’s website. Make sure information is reviewed before the mock interview and the night before the actual interview.

3 – Provide them with the name of the person they will be meeting with, and some background information about the person.

4 – Provide them with detailed instructions about the interview (date, time, location, parking instructions, receptionist’s name, which entrance to use, etc.)

5 – Have them do a dry run 1-2 days before the interview (in rush hour traffic), so they know how long it will take to get to the interview.

6- Look up what the weather is going to be like on the day of the interview and make sure they are prepared for all circumstances (rain, snow, etc.).

7 – Hype them up to the hiring manager before you send them on the interview.

8 – Call or text them the day and night before the interview to make sure there are not any surprises and to offer encouragement.

9 – Call or text them the morning of the interview, to avoid any last-minute snafus or surprises.

10 – Talk to the participant AND the employer immediately after the interview to debrief and see how things went from both of their perspectives.

Ready to start increasing your jobseeker placement and retention rates and building stronger employer relationships?

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