This Job is AWFUL! Smart Recruiting Strategy By Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
February 2005

In this issue...
  • Update on research efforts for our new book
  • This Job is AWFUL! Smart Recruiting Strategy
  • Adopt A Platoon
  • Dinged Up Paperbacks Available at Big Savings

  • Update on research efforts for our new book

    Thanks to those who have volunteered to help with the research effort on our new book. The work is currently underway. If you'd like to learn about your organization volunteering to participate in this effort, Please click here

    This Job is AWFUL! Smart Recruiting Strategy

    By Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette

    If your organization is one of those that participated in the uptake of 146,000 new jobs the US economy created in January of 2005, probably the last thing on your list was discouraging seemingly qualified applicants' interest in working for your outfit.

    But it may be one of the smartest things you could have done.

    A story by Marcus Franklin, in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, tells of a graphic video being used by the city's Police Department to make sure potential new officers have a clear picture of just exactly what they're getting into.

    The ten-minute short, entitled Realities of Field Training Officers shows, among other things, scenes of severed limbs, violent confrontations between police and residents, pictures of authorities zipping up body bags, and the greatest surprise of all to potential recruits - the massive amount of paperwork required for almost every incident.

    At a per-recruit cost of more than US$34,000 for hiring, training, and pre-service salary, the department lost about US$750,000 last year prepping the 23 aspiring officers who quit before they got a badge.

    The film is just one of a series of measures the St. Petersburg Police Department has taken to reduce the attrition of new officers in the first few months of duty. New applicants also are required to ride along with officers before going any further into the application process, and to talk to those who've been in the job for a few years, and who are encouraged to be brutally honest in their descriptions of the experience.

    This employer wants to make sure that police officers, after being duly informed of what they can expect, still have the potential to be happy, productive, and successful in their new work.

    We can think of a few other professions that should be painstakingly forthright about the realities that successful candidates should expect:

    * Teaching
    * Nursing
    * Food service
    * Child care
    * Elder care
    * Construction
    * Utility repair
    * Customer service call center workers
    * Sanitation
    * Anyone wanting to work for a lean, entrepreneurial startup

    These jobs, and others we didn't mention, are tough, and require a special breed. While just about anyone can pursue these lines of work, not just anyone can do them.

    If you're in a position to hire, how can you be sure you're making the best picks - picks that are likely to stick - and flourish in the job?

    We've got a few thoughts that might help:

    1) Make a list.

    Think about the job or jobs you recruit, interview, and hire for. Make a list of the non-technical "fit" requirements for those jobs. Not the degrees, certifications, experience, skills, and technical aptitudes that might qualify someone for potential success, but those other attributes, most of which are even more important. Enlist the help of those already doing the job, to set your sights on the critical success factors.

    Here are some questions you might ask. To be successful in this job, do you have to:

    * Like traveling? (Not just be able to tolerate it, but really enjoy it.)
    * Work an unpredictable schedule?
    * Have a really friendly and outgoing personality?
    * Be OK with repeated relocation?
    * Really like to help people?
    * Have a passion for the work that surpasses your need for money?
    * Be able to tolerate a fair amount of ambiguity?
    * Be comfortable submitting to authority?
    * Work without immediate gratification?
    * Enjoy "detective work"?
    * Have a high threshold for frustration?
    * Get your thrills at work?
    * Have a high stress tolerance?
    * Be OK with being shot at?

    We see all sorts of mismatches between the person and the job - mismatches that cost the employer, and the employee, who has invested time, energy, and emotions in an endeavor that was hopelessly doomed from the beginning.

    If you work in a field that employs part-time workers, for example, are you hiring people whose lifestyles, income requirements, and expectations are truly commensurate with part-time work? Or are you hiring people who really need a fulltime job, but will take the part time position, to get their foot in the door?

    2) Stick to your guns.

    Once you've determined what's necessary to have a chance of making it in the job, ardently maintain high standards. Make exceptions very judiciously, if at all. To do otherwise is a cruel fraud on yourself, the employee, the rest of your team, and your customers, all of whom expect, and deserve better.

    3) Tell the truth

    Beginning a pattern that everyone will appreciate, before, during, and after the entire employment relationship, do as the St. Pete police have done, and be completely forthcoming and honest about what potential hires can expect. Tell the truth in your recruiting ads. It'll cut the time wasted in interviewing non-starters. Tell the truth while interviewing. Encourage applicants to ask the tough questions, to make sure the commitment is solid from the beginning.

    Likewise, expect (no, insist on) the truth in return. We can't think of many jobs where having a truth factor problem is anything but a detriment.

    And, if it comes to light during any part of the process, that this is not a good match, provide a quick, comfortable way out to be used by either party, that enhances your organizational and personal reputation.

    4) Try before you buy:

    Maybe the best, most cost-effective, and most accurate way to make sure you, and the applicant, are making the best decision, is to offer a job tryout. Whatever the job - a minimum wage starting position, or something at the six-figure level.

    A company called Vocation Vacations (VocationV acations.com) offers a chance (for a fee) to tryout a "dream job" while on vacation from your current position. Great option for those who can swing it.

    But there's no reason you can't offer the same thing, to those you've pre-qualified, and who can take the time to test drive the job. Bring 'em in, pay them of course, and immerse them in the reality of the work and your environment. It may be the best recruiting money you'll ever spend.

    Adopt A Platoon

    We know there are lots of needs in the world right now, between the tsunami victims in south Asia, and the troops fighting in Iraq, just to name two. Several months ago, we made a decision to adopt a platoon of soldiers from the US Army's 25th Infantry Division, currently serving in Iraq. We have Committed to the platoon's officers that, throughout the 15-month deployment, they will get whatever they need to maintain esprit de corps. To learn more, and see how you can help if you like, visit this link.

    Thank you,
    Bill and Richard

    Dinged Up Paperbacks Available at Big Savings

    You know how it is when you've been on the road for a while. The same goes for our paperback version of Contented Cows. After a few trips back and forth from one convention to another, or back from the distributor, they start to show just a few signs of travel fatigue. Same great book inside, but maybe with a corner or two turned up. While they've never actually been used, we can't really sell them as new. Our loss is your gain. These books are available, while supplies last, at our Contented Cows Online Store, for only 8 bucks (US). To order, click here.

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