Hiring Right: Tips for Attracting Top Performers

Everywhere I go, I’m constantly asked, “Where can I find really good people?” and “How can I learn in a couple of short interviews whether the new hire will really be a keeper?”

I absolutely believe that your company will only be as strong as your weakest employee, or as famous management guru and author Peter Drucker stated, “No organization can do better than the people it has.” So the challenge to kitchen and bath firms is to learn how to interview and attract the best. Your ultimate goal is to have the best possible team of employees and to develop an environment that meets the needs of these employees.

Most owners and managers of kitchen and bath firms wear a multitude of hats, leaving them little time for marketing management, financial management and the all-important human resource management.

However, filling your ranks with good people is more important today than ever before. That’s because your people represent your company to your customers; they are the ones who will create your success.

Smart managers will learn to develop every possible resource for finding good people. They need to develop networks of potential team members that they can tap into when there’s an opening. They need to raise the company’s visibility so that people will come to them.

Employee searches are expensive, both in time and money – not to mention the productivity lost while the job sits vacant. So, you need to do whatever it takes to make your hiring process quicker and more effective.

Describing the Job

You just found out that a key member of your team is leaving. One of the first things you need to tackle before you set the hiring process in motion is the job description. Most of you don’t have written job descriptions – but don’t you agree that employees deserve to know exactly what’s expected of them? Sit with the person that’s leaving and document everything he or she has been doing. Spell out what the productivity and quality criteria are. What experience, skills and education will the job require? What challenges and opportunities will the job offer? What compensation will be required to attract the right person and how will the compensation work (salary, commission or both)?

Remember that character traits and personality matter as much as skills. In my book “Kitchen and Bath Business Management,” available through NKBA, there’s an entire section on how to write and format job descriptions.

Advertising the Position

Once you’ve decided what type of person the job requires, it’s time to start looking. Entry-level employees (incomes less than $30,000) will probably rely on newspaper job ads. Higher-income folks will check the classifieds in the trade journals or possibly contact personnel placement agencies that specialize in specific industries.

Today, the Internet is becoming a major recruiting channel – especially with those under the age of 40. The Web is home to a fast proliferating number of job boards.

In addition, database management tools such as PC Recruiter, Resume Direct and Black Dog Recruiting allow you to track where you are in the hiring process. Check online under keywords “database management, hiring and recruiting” for a list of current software products to help you manage your recruiting process.

Print & Electronic Options

When developing an advertising program for recruiting, your goal should be to attract the most qualified candidates you can afford. In this light, Internet advertising is very appealing. Job postings on the Internet and online resume database searches cost considerably less than newspaper ads and the services of recruiting firms.

Posting job openings on the Internet is not only cost effective, it can produce results in a matter of hours, often dramatically cutting the time it takes to fill the position. Some of the more popular Internet sites are CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com and Craigslist.com. These three alone accounted for over 25% of Internet hires.

When advertising on the Internet, don’t forget about your company’s own Website. Adding a “careers” section to your business site is a wise move – it offers a permanent recruiting space.

Targeting Talent

Before placing your ad, consider the following:

  1. Develop and review the job description to clarify the qualities you are looking for.
  2. Evaluate where the right candidates for your position typically search for jobs.
  3. Consider trade publications, special-interest meetings and industry events that draw the type of candidate you need.
  4. Identify the five top reasons someone should work for your firm.
  5. Fully understand the role of the open position and its function within your team and your company.
  6. Consider candidates who may not be actively looking for a new opportunity; reach them by advertising on industry-related sites and sites unrelated to work.

A 2005 survey of 73 leading employers ranked various sources for finding job candidates based on the percentage of organizations that reported being satisfied with the return on their investment (source: “2006 Recruiting Trends Survey,” Direct Employers/Booz Allen Hamilton, January 2006). They are as follows:

  • Employee Referrals 82%
  • Organization’s Website 71%
  • Campus Recruiting 60%
  • Niche Job Boards 58%
  • General Job Boards 51%
  • Search Firms 42%
  • Networking
  • Technology 36%
  • Commercial Resumé
  • Databases 33%
  • Career Fairs 30%
  • Newspapers 15%

Effective Online Ads

It takes skill to craft an effective ad for an Internet site. You want to appeal to active job seekers, but also to those who are testing the waters: so-called “passive job seekers.” To make your ad appealing to both, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Include terms that convey urgency, such as “Immediate Opening” or “Available Now.”
  2. Use a creative teaser, such as “Innovative Thinkers Needed.”
  3. Put salary/benefits near the top of the ad; surveys have shown that this increases responses.
  4. Provide a list of required skills; describe these skills in terms that are likely to be used as keywords in a search engine.
  5. Include information about career advancement at your firm.
  6. Include information about the work environment or unusual benefits that set the company apart.
  7. Add a link to community Web pages describing the local area.
  8. Don’t use unclear job titles.
  9. Don’t abbreviate words, since online ad space is not restricted. An abbreviation also might not show up in a job hunter’s keyword search.
  10. Don’t forget to specify your location: city, state and region.

Consider Intern Programs

A great way to grow you sales and design staff is to hire interns from local design courses. Here are some hints on how to incorporate interns into your business:

  • Assign interns real work.
  • Set measurable goals.
  • Provide detailed explanations of their assignments.
  • Offer continuing, constructive feedback on their performance.
  • Assign them to an experienced advisor with the time to teach and guide them.
  • Give them the necessary tools: desk, chair, phone, computer, etc.

Read past columns on Personnel by Hank Darlington, and send us your comments about this story and others by logging onto the Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Web site, located at www.kitchenbathdesign.com.