December 16, 2007

Hiring Great People in 2008

By Paul Bieber

Historically, the two weekends after New Year’s Day are the largest help wanted issues of any newspaper. With people looking for jobs, how do you stand out from the others in trying to hire the best people?

Most companies looking to hire wait until the new year begins. People currently working want to stay at their current jobs until the end of the year to earn bonuses and holiday pay, qualify for retirement plans and enjoy holiday parties with their co-workers. Conversely, hiring companies don’t want to start people in December for the same financial reasons, and because current people are more interested in their holiday shopping than training a rookie. People make their New Year’s resolution “to get a job they like”.

How do you start your quest to hire great people?

If you are replacing a current person, terminate them. Nothing is more embarrassing than to have a current person come up to you and say, “I saw my job advertised in the paper—what’s going on?” (I did learn this rule the hard way!) Sure, you and your team will have to work a touch differently, and more often then not, you’ll find the person you are firing hurt the team efforts rather than helped…after all, that is why you are making the change.

The day after the termination, post the job description of the new person on your company bulletin board, asking your current employees for referrals. A current employee knows the ins and outs, the good and bad parts of the job, and if they are recommending their friend for the job, the friend will be fully briefed before your first interview. Most people take pride in their job and their workplace. They will only ask their friends that are good workers to join the team. Additionally, a new employee will be welcomed if a friend of a current employee.

Hiring through internal referral is, by far, the best way to hire working level people. (I guess by saying this, that senior management doesn’t work— but you know what I mean, don’t you?)

Interview every referral you get. You don’t have to hire someone from this pool, but I bet you’ll get good talent here.

A question that comes up here is one of hiring family members. There are pros and cons, both with good points. At Floral Glass we went out of our way to hire family members. If a person is a great worker, the odds are his brother or sister has the same values. Current employees will not recommend their black-sheep cousins, as it does reflect on them. We had many families working with us. We had three brothers in one family, and they all rose to line supervisors positions. Work ethic instilled at a young age does carry through to glass companies.

Yes, we had an occasional problem, but less so than in our total workforce. There is no doubt that this helped us. You don’t want to have two family members posting cash and doing collections, but other than that, go for it. Look at your employee manual; if it prohibits nepotism, revise it by saying, “We are glad to interview referred family members for employment at our company. Referred applicants will receive the same treatment as job applicants from other sources”

Help wanted ads are the next most common source of gaining new employees. Ads are placed in sections based on the type of job. If you are hiring an installer, don’t place it in the medical help section. Confirm the section you want with the person taking the ad. If in a general section, it is most often alphabetized using the first letter of the headline. The headline is what gets your ad read. Don’t use “hard worker wanted” or ‘full-time job”. Say something special to get attention. Use phrases like “Exciting glass industry” or “Energy savings glass installation”. Help wanted advertising is just like every other type of advertising…you want someone to read and take action based on your ad. If the ad looks small and cheap, it gives that impression of your company. Now, don’t take a half-page; do put your headline in a larger type and do put a thin box around your ad. The purpose is not to hire people with the ad; you do that in person. The ad should contain the basic job description, in seven-to-ten words, your location, a short list of your benefits, and the hours of work. THE PURPOSE OF A HELP WANTED AD IS TO GET PEOPLE TO CALL YOU OR STOP IN AT YOUR SHOP. This is what you want. Give the reader a reason to call you–invite them to call you to ask questions.

Never put wages in the ad. People who want more will never call. Your firm is more than wages—maybe you have great benefits—and the whole package makes you very competitive.

Somebody in the back row just said, “Hey, Bieber, now I gotta spend more time talking to people, interviewing and such…I don’t have enough time!” Hiring good people is the most important job of a leader, bar none. Don’t scrimp on time for this important task.

You don’t like newspaper advertising? Next week I’ll be with my in-laws and not able to post, but the following week we will talk about non-traditional ways to get job applicants. The week after that, we will discuss interviewing techniques that will help you hire the best candidates.