Employment Crisis: The Struggle Continues

10/10/2017 1:45:00 PM

You may recall a blog that I posted about four months ago titled, “Employment Crisis: Where’d the Workers Go?” I thought I’d post an update to share what has — and hasn’t — happened over that time period.

Taking the advice of commenter Tony Calero, who suggested I try posting an online Help Wanted ad at Indeed.com, we indeed posted an ad. And while we did get some responses to our posting — about 15 resumes over a one-month period — only one was actually something worth serious consideration.

Even though our ad explicitly stated that the applicant must have specific industry experience, 14 of the 15 resumes had no time in the industry. Some had been to technical schools, or had sales experience, several had some security — as in security officer, not installing security systems — experience, and many had food-and-beverage (including “assistant manager of a beef jerky outlet”) backgrounds.

The one application that really had potential was from a person that lived more than 45 minutes away from our store. He had done some installing for a satellite company and on paper seemed like he’d have a pretty good working knowledge of what we wanted in a starting tech. We called him for a preliminary chat before inviting him in for an interview. When he found out that the job didn’t come with a vehicle that he could take home — and had a starting salary of “only” $30,000 — he wasn’t interested.

As I was getting ready to repost our Indeed ad, I serendipitously got a call from someone asking if we were hiring. I said we were, asked him some cursory questions over the phone, and invited him to come in with a resume. He seemed like an ideal fit; he said he had wired his own house, installed his own AV system, installed smart lighting, programmed a Harmony, etc. He seemed articulate, was well dressed, was in an ideal age range, and seemed interested in starting a new career.

My biz partner, Al, happened to be on vacation that week but I texted him to say I thought I’d found a really serious prospect.

We brought him back for a second interview where Al spent some time with him and we offered him the job.

Happy ending, right?

Sadly, no. Within days, my other installers started voicing some concerns.

“This guy really seems lost.”

“He just doesn’t seem to understand what we’re doing.”

“I keep telling him the same things over and over, and he’s not getting it.”

“Look,” I said, “He’s new. Give him a chance. Let’s work with him and hopefully he’ll get it. We all want this to work out.”

A few days later, my lead installer came up to me and voiced a new concern. “You need to talk to New Guy about talking to customers on the job. Several times now I’ve found him out talking to the homeowners instead of working, and he was recommending products that we don’t sell.”

Ugh.

So I had a talk with New Guy. It basically went, “There may come a time when we want you to engage with customers, but that time definitely isn’t now. And we are charging these people by the hour. They want you there working, not chatting. And until you know our product line, and why we have suggested a specific product or solution, we don’t want you recommending anything to the client. And when you suggest things that we don’t sell, it is not only confusing to the customer, it can be damaging to the sale.”

As you can probably guess, he didn’t work out. Within a month, we let him go. Firing someone sucks, but there was no future for him with us, and better for us both to be done with it early than to drag it out.

My best friend, Dan, runs a successful label printing business in the Bay Area of California, and he told me he is always hiring, and frequently people that look good on paper don’t work out, and sometimes a person you don’t expect much from will end up surprising you. Dan also said that over the years he has found that he ends up hiring 10 people to get one good one. He didn’t specifically say anything about kissing a lot of frogs, but…

In a way this echoes a comment from Helen Heneveld on my original post. “Hire attitude and train them.”

We are considering a new person right now, but Al and I are split on him. While he doesn’t have any industry experience, he is young and sharp, knows networking and is comfortable with computers, and during our interview he said something that really struck a chord with me. “I really want to get into a career where I can learn and be challenged, and I will do whatever it takes to be successful.”

It reminded me a lot of myself 20 years ago.

I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out…

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