Employment agencies offer the advantage of a third party screening on your behalf, as well as a more specified recruiting effort. An employment agency also can place new employees on a "no strings attached" basis for 60 to 90 days. At any time during that period, the employee or the employer can terminate the contract for any reason. So, while employment agencies are somewhat expensive, there are certainly benefits to the services they provide.
Word-of-mouth recruiting is often the most effective method of finding new employees. In addition to spreading the word that you are looking for someone, you also might consider calling prospects from other small equipment rental businesses directly if you are familiar with their background and qualifications.
Take time to interview. Many small business owners rush through the actual interview process because they feel pressed for time to meet the demands of that particular day. That's a big mistake. The one-on-one interview is the best opportunity to assess whether or not the candidate is a good fit for the job. Your hiring criteria should include experience, education and training, intelligence, appearance and attitude.
Don't underestimate the importance of attitude. If you detect an attitude or personality traits that will likely clash with your existing employees, the interview is the time to explore these potential conflicts. You can ask questions like, "How do you like working with other people?" and "How do you get along with your current boss?" to try and draw out any attitude problems.
The interviewing process can be cumbersome, particularly for higher skilled positions, but you must persevere. Take the time to ask well thought out questions (see sidebar, page 90). And let others in your shop participate in the interview process, particularly if it is a second or third interview.
And never settle for the "least worst" candidate!
Check references. Many business owners never bother to ask for references or don't check them when they are provided. And while references often do not reveal very much about a prospect, you should always obtain and check references from a job applicant.
In obtaining references, make sure you are given a reference person from all previous jobs. If the applicant has left off a reference, he might be trying to hide problems. Also, be careful in checking the reference from the candidate's existing employer. If he is still working there, you could jeopardize his current employment situation. Ask before calling.
Finally, have a plan when you call a reference. Most employers will give out factual information only when called for a reference. Start out your call with a few factual questions (How long did he work there? What was his position? What was his salary when he left?). Then, tactfully move to questions that might extract a subjective response (Did he leave on good terms? Did he get along well with other employees? Was he punctual?).
Drug testing. Many employers now include drug testing as part of their hiring procedures. It's a good idea as long as you specify this practice on the job application and are consistent with the policy. So, if you decide to hire someone, make sure he has already completed and signed a job application. Then, make sure all new hires are tested. If you use an employment agency, you can ask them to handle drug testing for you.
Avoiding discrimination. This has become a key issue as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has expanded its power base. As an employer, you need to familiarize yourself with current EEOC rules and regulations.
In the hiring process, there are two basic credos that should be followed to avoid discrimination:
- Hiring standards must be job related, not "people" related.
- Standards you set for any job must not adversely affect the hiring chances of any one group of people on the basis of their race, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status or physical handicaps.
There are a couple of other points here. First, make sure your application form is in compliance with EEOC laws. Many outside employment specialists can provide applications that guarantee compliance with applicable laws. Secondly, you are required by law to save all job applications (regardless of whether or not you hire the applicant) for at least two years.
Personnel policies and procedures