Universally, hiring in wholesale distribution has become one of the biggest challenges we face in today's business environment. It doesn't seem to matter what kind of resources we employ, what type of pre-employment testing we use or even which recruiting firm we choose, it is still quite a gamble. The odds end up being 50-50 regardless. I know that there are a lot of Human Resource professionals out there whose hair is going to stand up on the back of their necks as they read this. I look forward to their feedback.
Let's face it. What tools have we come to use that can really predict reliably how successful a person will be on the job? By the way, I personally believe you can spend $1000 on personality profiling or less than $100 and get about the same odds on success. I am not saying that personality profile testing is worthless. It's just another one of those tools we have learned to use in wholesale distribution when making a hiring decision. I believe it should just be considered one small piece of the puzzle. Candidates should not be confirmed or rejected simply on the basis of these tests.
Unemployment today is less than 5%. That means we are in a very tough hiring market. Personally, except for a limited number of applicants that may be in a career transition, I believe that people that are unemployed when we have a 4.6% unemployment rate just don't want to work. That means what is left to hire is the "Cream of the Crud".
Generally speaking, the people you want to hire already have a job. They are currently employed by someone else. Does that mean we need to hire a recruiting firm every time we have a job opening? Maybe, maybe not, it depends on the position and the timeline for replacement. However, it is more dependent on how effective your company has become at recruitment strategy, recruitment networking and creating a reputation for being an employer of choice.
Recruitment isn't something you do as soon as you have a job opening. Recruitment is a never ending process. Management team members should be recruiting all the time. It is not just the responsibility of the Human Resource manager. Every management team should have a bank of potential new employees based on contacts they have made over the course of several years. Just because you are recruiting doesn't mean you have to have an immediate job opening. Remember, you are looking for people that are already employed. Challenge your HR director to develop a recruiting strategy that includes the entire management team and holds them accountable. Perhaps an incentive can be attached to the strategy.
I know of one President of a medium sized company that carries a second business card that has the following printed on the back of it.
"You seem to be the kind of person that would fit in well at our company. We are always interested in talking to individuals like you. If you are interested in a career change, Please contact Joe @ 111-111-1111. Please reference my name when you call."
How many times do you run into aggressive, inspiring, and hard working people on a day to day basis that would fit in well at your company? Waiters, waitresses, sales people, clerks at hotels, the list could go on. This could be a major contributor to your bank of potential new employees. Of course, you can't overlook or ignore all the traditional recruitment methods. Your HR manager can outline those in your strategy.
The Hiring Process
Let's start with the resume. First, how many of you have ever seen a resume that doesn't say good things about the applicant? Most resumes are written very well. People take classes, buy software and even hire employment consultants that make sure these resumes present the candidate in the most favorable light. Don't believe for a minute that all resumes are 100% truthful. Don't believe for a minute that most resumes don't contain exaggeration and enhancement.
How about references? How many of you think that anyone would be foolish enough to list somebody as a reference that is not going to say wonderful things about the applicant? Give me a break! Today, most companies instruct their managers not to give out any information beyond basic date of hire and verification of employment. You do check references don't you? If you don't you should even though you are likely to get only positive responses or no information at all. Sometimes if the reference is a talker and you are a skilled interviewer, you can get some good information about the candidate. Try this technique the next time you are checking references. Find out the department the applicant worked in. Get names of peers if possible. Call someone in the department that the employee worked in other than the reference listed. Ask them about the applicant. You are likely to get a more honest, unbiased assessment of the candidate. Of course if the applicant is still employed at the company this is not recommended.
Interviewing the candidate--- At the risk of getting more stinging feedback, I can't help but state that the majority of managers in wholesale distribution do a very poor job of interviewing potential new employees. First of all, most managers have never been trained on the interview process. It requires excellent communication skills which includes the ability to really listen. Many times, we are thinking of our next question while the candidate is answering our first question. That is reason enough to always have two people involved in the interview. The second problem most managers encounter is the fact that they don't prepare well. They don't do their homework. Sure, they look over the resume, but that's usually the extent of it. Remember, the candidate, if she/he is smart, has prepared for this interview. The candidate has practiced, thought up potential questions and done research on your company. The question then becomes, why you haven't done the same. Review the resume and jot down a list of questions that immediately come to mind. Research the companies the candidate has worked for using the internet. Ask pertinent questions about each company to determine just how engaged and informed the candidate really is.