Adventures In Hiring

The gentleman sitting next to me on a recent cross-country flight was in a talkative mood, so after learning that he was a small business owner, I got him to discuss his hiring practices. He proudly told me that in addition to recent college graduates, and experienced professionals, he regularly hires applicants from disadvantaged and low-income communities, and people with disabilities; citing their motivation, enthusiasm, and low turn over rates as his prime reasons for hiring from these applicant groups.
But as we spoke, he revealed that he had taken his recruitment success for granted and paid the price for doing so.  He told me he had been scammed by one of his hires, and it took several months before he knew what was happening.   His lapse in judgment cost him a lot of money, time and confidence.
Although he had routinely been more thorough doing background checks of all applicants he stressed, as his business grew and staffing needs increased rapidly, some hiring decisions were made hastily.  It happens!  He was very matter-of-fact about it all, saying folks fell through the cracks.
Employers want to hire people they hope and expect are qualified to do a job!  They also want to (and wouldn’t it be great if they always could) believe that everything stated by the applicants is the truth, whereby the employer can confidently extend trust; trust that a job will be done appropriately, and that no harm will be done to their business.
Yeah, if only …..
These days, regardless of the applicant pool, sometimes even qualified employees are going to take advantage of their employers, and look for ways to rip them off.  I’m not talking about filching pens, post-its, or using network facilities for downloading and storing music or worse, porn. (None of which is endorsed!).  We’re talking serious illegal procurement of real goods and equipment, monetary embezzlement and intellectual property theft.
While not all employees are going to rip off their employers, a formerly committed and dedicated worker can become disgruntled and take inappropriate action, or someone with a penchant for doing wrong manages to get themselves hired.  Whether due to complacency or carelessness, occasionally the wrong people get brought on board.
I’ve watched employers’ interview applicants who spent so much time proselytizing about their company that they forgot to ask questions, and went ahead and offered the candidate a job.  The employer saw the excitement on the applicant’s face, thought the resume and cover letter looked credible, but never bothered to ask about the individual’s motivation or experience, didn’t verify that the prospect understood what would be expected of them or if the person could actually do the job, nor did they ask open ended questions that might have revealed this was the wrong candidate for the position.
What’s a business owner to do?
Stay vigilant!  You’ve get the best instincts in the world for judging people and want to give applicants an opportunity to prove themselves, but you still need to do all the other pre-hire work.  If an applicant provides letters of reference, get them verified.  Contact the prospective hire’s former employers and references and ask questions. Have a background check done, and maybe even a financial and credit check.  These days, there really is no short cut to a low-risk hire!
Sure, an employer does need to trust her/his instincts, but they also need to verify the information provided them.  These days there are too many falsified documents out there, and too much competition for open positions.  Take the time to research the claims of your applicants and verify those claims so you can more confidently hire the right people.  Yes, this takes more time and effort, and it makes hiring a bit more costly.  But in the long run your business will benefit from having employees who can do their jobs and in whom you can confidently place your trust.
May all your hires be productive and trustworthy!
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