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4 Recruiting Lessons Learned By Eating Girl Scout Cookies

We’re on the tail-end of another Girl Scout Cookie season, perhaps a bit heavier but no worse for the wear (well, except for that one brawl that broke out in Florida). Lest you assume the art of selling Girl Scout Cookies is child’s play, note these facts: Nearly $800 million in cookie sales is generated from over 50 million households each year. There are important business lessons to be learned from these sweet treats, particularly as it applies to recruiting.


Try the following five lessons on for size.

Recruiting Lesson 1: Don’t “do-si-do” through your hiring process.

While the organization’s peanut butter Do-Si-Dos® are named for the art meandering through life, the Girl Scouts do anything but meander when it comes to cookie sales. The six- to eight-week timeframe in which the cookies are available each year is limited for several reasons. First, it ensures the organization’s sales team (the girls who sell the cookies) and other resources (like the two bakeries used to make each and every cookie) aren’t overextended. Second, it creates immediacy which often leads to increased interest.

The average job vacancy duration of professional jobs is about 26 working days (or more than five calendar weeks). If you can recruit in that amount of time, great! But if you can recruit even faster, you’ll be in the best position to snag top talent before they take another job. If you need help reducing your timeline and building interest from top talent, consider using a staffing partner.


Recruiting Lesson 2: Thin mints make good cookies but not good paychecks

Nobody likes to see the price of cookies increase but, to get your hands on the best, you’ll need to grin and bear it. In some areas of the country including parts of California, Arizona and Massachusetts, a box of Girl Scout Cookies will now set you back $5.

It’s similarly painful to see salary demands increase throughout the country, but resisting the change could cost you in the way of top talent. Salaries across the board have risen again this year by 3 percent. Certain jobs, like entry level IT jobs, are expected to rise in salary by nearly 4 percent. With the job market getting tighter by the minute, too, it’s in your best interest to take a page from the Girl Scouts’ book and raise prices (er, salaries) accordingly.


Recruiting Lesson 3: Always Look for Ways to Do “S’more”

The Girl Scouts just introduced a s’mores-inspired treat to celebrate the 100th anniversary of selling cookies. The organization admits the decision was an obvious one since they have a strong, visceral connection to s’mores and the outdoors. It was also an easy choice because they aren’t afraid of change and are continually looking for ways to innovate product and processes. The organization also recently created a robust online sales platform and has committed itself to investigating more sustainable, diet-restricted and conflict-free ingredients when possible.

When innovating your recruiting process, take a page from the Girl Scouts and start with obvious changes that could make a big difference. For instance, employee-referred new hires perform better and stay longer than other new hires. Why not start or strengthen an employee referral program at your organization in order to attract more of the valued talent you already have?


Recruiting Lesson 4: When life gives you lemons, make Lemonades™

Since the first Girl Scouts Cookie sale in 1917, the program has experienced major ups and downs. World War II brought with it a global shortage of cooking ingredients, which prompted the Girl Scouts to sell calendars instead. When prosperity returned, the Girl Scouts came back stronger than ever with new sales tactics like going door-to-door and setting up booths in shopping malls. Throughout the years, the Girl Scouts have rolled with the punches and, quite literally, learned to make Lemonades, even as the going gets tough.

While we may not be in a major war or facing a great depression, recruiting talent these days is no walk in the park. The widening skills gap is just one example. There are 5.9 million “open” jobs in America, the most unfilled positions ever reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Last year showed the highest number of open manufacturing jobs in the past 15 years. The deficit of cybersecurity professionals is now expected to grow to more than 1.8 million workers globally by 2022. In fact, every quarter, 50,284,170 days of IT work are lost to the U.S. skills gap.

Organizations who don’t shift the way they recruit to meet this challenge—perhaps by developing more relationships with those in education and training organizations and creating better on-the-job-training, for example—will not fill the positions they need.

We could go on and on (just like eating a box of Samoas®). Have you learned to say Thanks-A-Lot®? What about interviewing in “Trios?” Don’t let your cookie crumble when it comes to snagging the sweetest candidates.


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All images of Girl Scout Cookies are © 2016-2017 Girl Scouts of the United States of America