While a student at Harvard, I started QuikForce, a logistics company that connects hourly workers to provide home services for customers, including moving, cleaning, driving and other services. QuikForce was incubated out of the Harvard Innovation Lab, and was started to solve the pain of hiring hourly workers to help move furniture, relocate, or to perform home services. Growing up, I watched my dad who worked as a driver delivering goods and packages for over 35 years and I realized the inefficiencies of the logistics industry and wanted to transform it. It was antiquated industry where I saw that it was difficult for consumers to easily find a right mover, or hourly worker to perform the home service needs that they have.
QuikForce met with early success, winning the top prize at the TechCrunch pitch-off, expanding rapidly into 5 cities in the East Coast, and being features in Yahoo Finance, Boston Business Journals, BostInno, and more. The team was growing rapidly and we needed to acquire and hire hourly workers to meet with our growing demand from customers.
In order to meet the rapidly growing demand, I needed to hire over 1,000 hourly workers in less than a month. Therefore, I employed a few different strategy which I will like to share with you.
1. Post on Craigslist, Indeed.com, Ziprecruiter everyday
These channels remain the best methods for me to reach out to hourly workers, be it drivers, movers or cleaners. I will create and re-post job ads on these channels everyday, in order for the job posting to appear at the top of the job boards.
I would structure my job postings to be attractive, using titles with the words "BONUSES guaranteed, $100 tomorrow", leveraging simple words and clear message that there will be a huge cash incentive for the person who decides to response to my ads and to engage with me.
2. Share on closed communities like Facebook Groups, Yelp, etc
In order to be exposed to a large community of people, I joined over 500 Facebook Groups throughout the cities that I was part of (I was "banned temporarily" by Facebook for a few days but it worked again soon). As I joined more Facebook Groups, I was able to gain access to groups like "Uber drivers in Boston" or "Movers in Cambridge". This was a trusted network, in which hourly workers are more likely to respond to messages that I post or groups that I am sharing job information in. In addition, I also found that Yelp is a good social network for small businesses too. I was able to reach out and contact many small businesses via Yelp who responded to me and I was able to connect with them.
3. Using SMS / text messages to communicate with them
Email simply does not work with hourly workers. I tried calling too and it is good to a certain extent, but it may be challenging as many hourly workers are holding multiple jobs or could be driving or working when you are calling him or her. Therefore, I found that sending SMS and text messages from my personal phone was the best way to reach out to these hourly workers.
I will simply use iMessage to copy and paste a template that I will set up on my laptop and mass send that to people. I will even create reminders to follow up with hourly workers on a daily basis so that I will be able to follow up with them and connect with them.
4. Responding quickly to them within minutes
I also found that speed is very important when looking to hire hourly workers. They are looking urgently for work in most instances, and speed of response is key because it conveys that (a) you are serious about and potentially hiring them (b) he or she may be able to start early and soon to get paid. Therefore, I have found that responding quickly to potential hourly hires is very important as it really helps to get the details squared away and to get the potential hourly hire on-boarded.
5. Ask for referrals and recommendations
As with many industries and sectors, referrals work! Therefore, every time when I hire a new hourly worker, I will immediately ask him or her for 3 introductions or names that I can be put in touch with in that instance. This is very helpful as I am able to create leverage in getting to more hourly workers who are of similar background that I like to hire. If I am planning to hire a person who may be a fit for the role, it is almost certain that he or she knows three or more other workers that could be a good fit for the role.
6. Immediately schedule a for a time to connect once engaged
Setting a time to connect either via the phone or in-person is very important. Once I have engaged with the hourly worker, I will immediately manually schedule a time to meet with him or her to learn to see if it is a good fit for us. Scheduling for a time is almost the hardest thing to coordinate between my own busy schedule and that of the hourly workers'. Therefore, I will create 15 minute time slots everyday and assigned at least 3 hours to meet with groups of up to 10 hourly workers at once in order to quickly identify who may be a good fit for the job.
It was a really fun time to source, hire and onboard 1,000 hourly workers within 4 weeks. I learned a lot, but it was also extremely tired and time-consuming. I worked 120 hour work weeks over an entire month with the help of several of my hardworking teammates to pull this off. This was a huge part of my inspiration to start Workstream, which is a hiring and onboarding software to automate the above manual processes that I just shared.
Desmond Lim is co-founder and CEO of Workstream, an automated hiring platform for companies hiring hourly workers. He is a graduate of Harvard and MIT Media Lab, former product manager at WeChat, and investor at Dorm Room Fund. He is based in San Francisco and lived in Palo Alto with his wife and two young daughters.