Shaker Recruitment Marketing celebrates 70 years

Since its founding in 1951, Shaker Recruitment Marketing has evolved to meet new challenges, including the current problem of attracting employees that cuts across many industries.

However, some founding principles remain and likely will never change. They've been central to the success of this third-generation full-service recruitment advertising agency: “Make a friend, make a deal” and “We treat our employees and clients like family.”

On Thursday evening, Shaker celebrated the milestone with a documentary film entitled “70 Years & Counting” that drew on interviews with more than two dozen past and present Shaker leaders as well as longtime clients and partners who have been part of propelling the industry forward.

The Oak Park-based company, which now employs more than 150 all over the country, was founded by Joseph R. Shaker as Shaker Agency. At first, it focused on Chicago-area newspapers' help wanted classified advertising. Over its various changes since then, the firm's objective has been “delivering the right story to the right people at the right time,” a phrase uttered in the film by Dan Shaker, the company's vice president of Innovation.

Retired Shaker executives and others recalled various strategies and upgrades that, in their time, were notable for finding those target audiences. For example, understanding the skill sets of a given ethnic group — Polish, German or Italian, for instance — would influence where certain help-wanted ads were placed, said Cathy Breit, a Shaker board member.

Joseph G. Shaker, retired CEO and President, said his father recognized the key to recruitment was retention “and the key to retention is someone who lived close to where they worked. They would stay and work longer for that employer.”

Some watershed moments may seem trivial now, such as when a company's logo could be inserted in a classified ad. Throughout, keeping pace with technological strides has been essential as Shaker offers customized, creative recruitment campaigns for some of the world's most well-recognized companies, including McDonald's, Ulta Beauty, Dollar General, Siemens, Emory Healthcare, BJC HealthCare and U.S. Cellular Corp.

In addition to providing historical perspective, including how Shaker weathered the Great Recession a dozen years ago, the 37-minute film offers a glimpse at employee recruitment's future.

That outlook includes giving people the ability to apply for positions through telephone text and enabling VR (virtual reality) headsets so they can “see” the workspace of their prospective employer.

Beyond that, the recruitment process should celebrate a diversity of talents.

“It's an experience where you're valued, not just valuable,” said John Graham Jr., Shaker's Vice President of Employer Brand, Diversity & Culture. “It's where your passion, your brilliance, your excellence is applauded (and) welcomed, rather than suppressed or denied. It's where proximity to different cultures is an asset, rather than an affront.”

In a telephone interview, Shaker President Joe Shaker Jr. said that it is not enough to create messages that will sell your organization.

“Be authentic in your messaging, be diversified in your outreach strategy and put that candidate experience front and center,” he counseled. “You've got to convert (into a hire), and then retain them.”

He also noted that the current staffing struggles cutting across numerous industries underscore the continued relevance of Shaker's work.

“There's never been a bigger emphasis around recruitment right now,” Shaker said. “It's companies' number-one challenge, no matter how small or big you are. There's nobody that doesn't have a talent attraction problem.”

“70 Years & Counting” can be seen at <URL destination="">

The third generation, from left: Derek Briggs, Jeremy Breit, Joe Shaker Jr., Amanda Shaker and Dan Shaker. Courtesy of Joe Shaker
Some of the Shaker family's second generation: John Shaker, left, Anthony Shaker, Cathy Breit, Betty Shaker and Joe G. Shaker. Courtesy of Joe Shaker
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