How To Recruit The Right Staff For Your Print Shop

Of all the ingredients that make a successful print business, nothing is more important than your people.

“Our people are our most important asset”. You’ve probably read this a million times. It’s unquestionably a cliche. But when it comes to growing your print company, your people really are your most important asset, which makes your print recruitment a critical part of your business.

Why printing recruitment matters

Companies don’t deliver service; people do. As this Salesforce piece notes, almost half of customers say they’ll stop buying from a company if they receive poor service. 76% said they felt it was easier than ever before to take their business elsewhere.

So there’s a direct link between the people you hire and the service you deliver. Which begs the question: how do you ensure you recruit the right people?

The print recruitment golden rule

It’s not just about skills. Clearly, it’s important that the people you hire have the capability to do the job. But printing skills can be taught (to a certain extent, which we’ll explore in greater detail below). Other attributes – leadership, diligence, problem solving, attention to detail, the ability to build productive relationships with colleagues and customers – can’t.

The golden rule, therefore, is to recruit print people who can deliver exceptional service and help improve your business. Here are some ways to achieve that.


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i) Recruit talent over skill

We just said skills can be taught. This is true. But, as with any other discipline, there are people who can be taught to use a printer, and there are people who appear to be able to make it sing.

This is the difference between skill and talent. You innately know the difference between the two in the print shop. The skilled printer can meet the brief perfectly well. But the talented printer can find smart solutions to tricky problems. They can think around print challenges and see them from another angle. They can take good and make it better.

Isn’t that the print recruit you’d prefer in your business?

ii) Recruit brand ‘fit’

There are major recruitment companies that trade almost entirely on their ability to find the right ‘brand fit’. And with good reason. Anyone can look the part on a CV. But the right print recruit isn’t simply a collection of skills and experiences.

It’s not just about the individual either. Think you’re recruiting for a single post? You’re not – your new print recruit will be part of a team and they’ll need to strike just the right balance between shaking things up and fitting in.

Print recruitment, then, is as much about understanding the dynamic between your existing team members (and finding a way to enhance it) as it is about simply bringing in a fresh face.

How do you recruit the right ‘fit’?

  1. You need to understand your own company culture, otherwise how can you ever hope to define what you’re looking for? Identify the common attributes of your existing people. Ask them what they think. What is it that makes them a good fit? What would they look for in someone new?
  2. Having defined some key aspects of your culture, you need to find ways of drawing that out during your selection process. At LEGO, for example, they do it through setting candidates brick building exercises. That’s unlikely to be a natural route for your print recruitment, but you might instead choose a practical print exercise, a group activity or select specific interview questions to draw out the key traits you’re looking for.
  3. Always have in mind ‘will this person fit in with us’?
  4. Learn from your mistakes – every organisation has recruited someone who wasn’t the right fit. Think of when you last did that. Why did it happen and how can you avoid it happening again?

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iii) Go to the tree, not the barrel

Want new recruits who are willing to learn your ways of doing things? Consider apprenticeships. Or build links with your local colleges and offer placements and work experience that help you identify talent before the competition does.

There is, of course, a trade off here. New entrants to the industry almost certainly won’t be the ‘finished article’. You will have to invest in training them. But the advantage is that they won’t yet have picked up any bad habits and you’ll be able to mould them to fit the needs of your business.

iv) Ask your existing staff

We’ve already touched on the importance of using existing team members to help you select their new colleagues.

But beyond asking them their opinions, why not include them in the print recruitment process? They could:

  • Help you put together the job ad, ensuring it covers all it should
  • (With appropriate training) help you sift applications
  • (With appropriate training) help you interview and select

Not only does this help your people to feel a genuine investment in the new print recruit (giving them a much greater chance of hitting the ground running); it’s great development for your team too.

v) Make your job ad stand out

Take a look at most existing printing recruitment ads and you’ll find they all look very similar. Often, that’s because the recruiting printer may use an agency whose job ads follow a template, or the printer will look at the ads already online and feel obliged to follow suit.

But if you do what everybody else does your ad won’t stand out. So while every ad should have the same common ingredients:

  • A headline the simply states the job role
  • A list of roles and responsibilities
  • The skills, traits and attributes your print recruit must have (together with the things you’d like them to have)
  • The benefits package

It’s important to put the above together in a way that looks distinctive and generates interest. Do that by:

  • Talking informally, simply and to the point
  • Beginning with an intro that sets the scene – stressing the things that make the job or your business stand out. Get the reader excited.
  • Using language that differs from the rest. When every other ad asks for ‘proactive self starters’, rephrase it to say what you really want: ‘people who don’t wait to be told what to do – they just do it’
  • Emphasising opportunities for development, training and leadership

The power of print recruitment

Getting your next hire right is critical to the success of your business. It can take the service you offer to the next level. It can unlock new ideas and new ways of thinking. It can make a productive team work even better.

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