There can be no argument, our employees are our most valuable asset. They can make us, as easily as they can break us. However, many employers don’t take the time or expend the necessary resources to seek out, and hire the best people possible. The result is often disappointment and frustration, and sometimes even litigation. Although there are no guarantees, there is a great deal employers can do to attract, hire and retain quality employees. Here are my Ten Best Hiring Tips for 2016:
1. Recruit constantly, not just when a position needs to be filled. Recruiting is a continuous and never ending process. It is not something an organization only does when it needs to hire. Maintain a revolving inventory of qualified candidates so that when positions become available, interviewing and screening can begin immediately.
2. Don’t use generic store bought employment applications. They look unprofessional, and frequently don’t meet current legal standards. Instead, create a customized application. Be sure to provide plenty of space for applicants to explain their leaving prior employers. Allowing enough for a one-word explanation will likely yield only one word. But, before going to press, have it reviewed by an attorney to ensure it complies with applicable federal and state law.
3. In addition to requiring completed applications be signed, get a signed release of liability from each applicant. In addition to the notifications and authorizations required by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2004, the release should be fashioned as to protect the prospective employer from any invasion of privacy claim that might arise during the pre-employment screening process. The release should authorize, without liability; the examination and use of public records, communications with former employers, and reference checking.
4. Interview thoroughly and consistently. Use only trained interviewers, and ensure that they know what can, and cannot be asked. Develop an interviewing process whereby every applicant is properly interviewed and his or her skills are examined and job suitability can be determined. Allow the applicant to thoroughly explain; strengths and weaknesses, how long he or she thinks it will take to become a contributor, and any gaps in employment. Retain all notes as part of the applicant’s permanent file.
5. Request as many references as possible, and check them thoroughly. Ask the applicant to provide the work, and home telephone number of every reference provided. Additionally, ask for the names and telephone numbers of former peers, and subordinates. Contact each one of them and ask for help to determine if the applicant is suited for the position for which they’ve applied. Be direct, but be respectful, and take notes.
6. Insist the applicant provide relevant documents, such as recent performance reviews, check stubs, military discharge records (DD 214), copies of transcripts and degrees, and professional licenses if applicable. Applicants should unhesitantly produce such documents—smart applicants anticipate this increasingly common request.
7. Conduct a thorough and complete background investigation. In most states, an applicant’s driving history and criminal history (if any) are public records and available to perspective employers. A string of traffic violations or even misdemeanor offenses should be taken seriously. A history of bankruptcies, tax liens and unfavorable judgments can also be red flags. Check federal and local laws before making any inquiries, and be sure to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and its amendments.
8. Drug test all applicants. According to recent studies, one third of the population has used an illegal drug at least once, and 11.6 million are still regular users. Substance abusers are less productive, have more accidents and miss more work than non-substance abusers. Budget permitting, consider psychological testing as well. Tests that have been scientifically validated will help match applicants’ skills with job requirements, and screen out those unlikely to meet performance standards.
9. Team consult with staff members and collectively identify the best candidates. Establish a standardized rating system and rate qualified applicants based on skills, work experience, past performance and the information provided by references. Re-interview the best candidates before making a final decision. Put your offer in writing and have it acknowledged by the final candidate by signing it. Maintain good will with those not selected, with a timely thank-you letter.
10. Sell the organization, not the job. It is common for business owners, recruiters and even, experienced human resource professionals to over sell a position. The practice often leaves the new employee disillusioned, frustrated, and angry. Instead, sell the organization and all that it offers. Valuable benefits often not mentioned include; technical training, personal and/or professional recognition, and professional networking opportunities.
It is a sad fact, each year, businesses lose over $40 billion dollars to employee theft and dishonesty. While this staggering figure continues to rise annually, employers of all sizes can do more to reduce their individual losses. But, the best investment against employee crime is to make careful, well informed hiring decisions.