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By Frances McGuckin

Hark! Listen to the universal cry of so many employers: “I can’t find good help these days!” Hiring the perfect employee isn’t a matter of just sifting through mountains of resumes, interviewing, then making a hiring decision. It’s a combination of using the right selection criteria, the right process, clearly explaining job expectations, and being a good employer.

If you don’t score well on all of the above, you will have trouble finding and keeping good people. It’s too easy to blame employees for not doing their job well, but as the boss, much of that responsibility lies squarely on your shoulders. How thoroughly did you plan your hiring needs? Here’s some tips to help you.

Prioritize the job: Compile a detailed list in order of job priorities, so that you have a complete picture on paper of your expectations of the employee. For example, your first priority could be sales skills, with three or more years industry experience. Second priority may be public relations skills, then salary, followed by other experience such as technical or computer skills. Next may come personality and attitude – or maybe that is your second priority.

Think carefully about the order of these priorities, as they should then be incorporated into both your advertisement and the interview process. Now you can design an appealing advertisement that clearly states your expectations. This narrows down the resume pile.

Design an appealing ad: Be precise yet creative in wording your advertisement. Can you offer flexi-time, benefits, or growth potential? Use positive words such as incentives, team spirit, pleasant working environment. Design an eye-catching header such as “Pride in your work?”, rather than:”Salesperson wanted”. You will often attract more motivated people who respond to working in a positive environment.

When resumes are received, highlight the candidate’s qualifications which meet your requirements, also highlighting areas where you need to ask questions Then grade each resume as an “A+”, “A” and “B”. Thoroughly reread the “A+” and “A” resumes, then prepare a short list for the interview process.

Ask the right questions: During the interview, ensure that the candidate fully understands your needs by describing the job in detail. Ask: “Do you feel that you can fulfill these job requirements?” Is there any hesitation in their answer? Ask about past work history. Do they blame their boss for leaving their last position? This could be a warning sign.

Carefully assess the candidate’s communication skills. Your employees represent your business, and excellent communication skills are imperative for dealing positively with both customers and other employees. Are they comfortable working without supervision? As you grow, you will need responsible people to delegate to.

Check references: Don’t accept friends as references and be thorough in your reference checking. Ask about work habits, relationships with other employees and customers, personality traits, any negative aspects and positive attributes, and ask: “Would you rehire this person?” Most people answer this question honestly.

Be a responsible boss: Employees respond to how they are treated. They can ruin your reputation or cause internal unrest if they become disgruntled, so take stock of your management abilities.

The ideal boss praises and rewards extra efforts and says thank-you for a job well done. Clearly define all job roles and write detailed job descriptions, so that each employee understands their responsibilities and boundaries. Allow adequate training time. When an employee makes a mistake, explain what they did wrong and why; don’t chastise them or treat them like children.

Hold regular team meetings, encourage staff input and new or innovative ideas – and reward employees. Regularly review performance and salaries, discussing any concerns. Keep employees informed of the business’ progress; offer incentives, and discuss situations that could threaten an employee’s job. Life is too stressful these days, so find ways to put some fun into their work. One company made Fridays theme day, such as hillbilly or crazy hat day. The employees looked forward to these events – and so did the customers. Along with little incentives and fun giveaways, the business grew in leaps and bounds. So did staff spirit and team morale.

When it all boils down, family is the most precious asset in our lives, so take time to ask about families. In emergency situations, allow some leeway and flexibility. Send sick employees home to recoup. Take them out to lunch occasionally, hold a summer barbeque, give little gifts to their children at Christmas. Try an “Employee Appreciation Day” and award special efforts.

Business excellence isn’t all about the bottom line. It’s about feeling good about whom you are and what you do. Your employees are an important and integral part of your business. They are your team. Treat them as you would expect to be treated, and remember – always keep your mind and your door open.

Frances McGuckin is a professional speaker, trainer, consultant and author of Business for Beginners and Big Ideas for Growing Your Small Business. She can be reached at 1-888-771-2771, e-mail at

This column is available for syndication. For information, contact Frances McGuckin at

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