So Hiring is an Issue?

Dec 12, 2005

You’ll hear it at any gathering of A/E/P and environmental consulting firm owners— hiring is at the top of the list of challenges they’re facing as we head into 2006. That said, there’s still too little creative thinking and monetary resources being used to solve the problem. Most companies have a hard time coming up with much other than a richer recruitment referral bonus for existing employees who send a new employee to the company or perhaps revitalizing their long-dormant co-op program. More is needed. MUCH more is needed. Here are some of my ideas: Get more flexible when it comes to location. It’s easier than ever to let people work from remote locations. Why force everyone to relocate where your offices are? Perhaps it makes more sense to open a new small office around that key hire. Or, perhaps that person can telecommute from their home and travel periodically as needed? Most firms need to take a much harder look at these kinds of options IF they want to be able to get the best people. Recruit internationally. There’s a dearth of new graduates in architecture, engineering, and science— in THIS country. But that’s not necessarily the case in China, India, and some other places around the world. These areas have to start being considered as sources for candidates if you want to start hiring and stop talking about it. Be more open to part-time employment situations. Most principals of companies in this business only want full-time employees. Sure, I would prefer full-timers myself because you can get them to work 45 or 50 or more hours a week for a 40-hour-a-week salary. But the truth is if you can’t hire a full-timer, a part-timer or more than one part-timer is better than no one. There are some good people out there— retirees, parents, and people who are taking care of their parents— whom you might be able to hire if you were more open to it. Get your CEO and other top professionals more involved. Recruiting is not a function that can be doled off to the human resources department entirely. It takes active involvement of the top people in the process if you want to actually hire the people you make offers to. Just having some of these people show interest in candidates makes a huge difference. A 15-minute meeting or a 30-minute phone conversation with a high-potential hiring candidate can really tip the scales in the company’s favor. Use every recruitment source available to you. This means that you need to do much more than run ads in the Sunday paper. You should be using online sources, ads in focused trade journals, co-op programs, intern programs, contingency recruiters, retained executive search firms, in-house recruiters, recruitment bonus programs, radio advertising, billboards, college recruitment, direct mail to registration rosters, and more. You cannot afford to ignore or poo-poo ANY source. Don’t forget to make efforts to stem the out-flowing tide. Turnover costs you money. With 300 employees, slowing down your turnover from 16% to 12% means there will be 12 fewer jobs you have to fill this year. At an average cost of $8K or more per hire, that could save you $100K a year as well as a lot of time spent in interviewing and screening potential employees. There’s a lot you can do to fix the hiring problem. But you better not waste time. There are more companies every day chasing after the same few employees! Originally published 12/12/2005

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