hiring

A Fair Chance: Hiring People with Criminal Records

Does this mere title scare you? Have you ever thought about why you might hire someone with a criminal record or do you just expect other firms to do that? One of the big problems in our society is that we in the US jail far more people per capita than other countries. And if they cannot find jobs when they have paid the price for their crimes, how do you expect them to live? So yes, there is a moral case to be made.

There is also a business case – related to performance and retention. Plus in the tight labor markets in MetroDC it is still a labor market many have not tapped.

Some background:

Over half of all convicted prisoners are in for non-violent crimes
Minorities carry the highest burden and there is good evidence of discrimination in the entire legal process.
The majority of prisoners are in state prisons (59%) and local jails (28%)
One-third of working age Americans have a criminal record.
In Alexandria, their unemployment rate is 65%, which is a little lower than the national average.

The federal government has several programs to help returning citizens (one of the many terms used besides ex-convicts – and my personal favorite) with job skills and employment. There are also programs to help employers hire them – from bonding to tax incentives.

Many national employers and local construction firms have extensive experience in successfully hiring and retaining people with criminal records. Small and mid-size businesses will find excellent local support for their efforts to do so.

I recently attended the Fair Chance Business Summit, a program of the Alexandria Reentry Council on hiring returning citizens. There were a number of local employers talking about their […]

By |October 11th, 2016|hiring, values|Comments Off on A Fair Chance: Hiring People with Criminal Records

SmallBiz Nightmares: Employees and Security

Recently Elizabeth Chisman Moon of Focus Data Solutions and I did a seminar on this topic for the Alexandria SBDC. Here are some basic ideas on managing your risks of security breaches.

Start by developing policies or practices that address the most important security needs of your business. These might include:

use of company equipment and software,
use of personal devices for work,
social media,
basic security procedures (physical and systems),
what you consider ‘company confidential’ or sensitive information.

Defining what you consider sensitive information is critical. This ensures you know what information deserves extra care in handling and storing so you can protect it. The policy also tells your employees what information you expect them to keep restricted and ensure others do not see. Common types of sensitive or ‘company confidential’ information include:

all data relating to services, applications, procedures, and/or products sold by the organization, excluding marketing literature designed for external use
research and/or development materials
information about clients or customers, excluding that within sales or marketing literature produced for external use
contractual arrangements between the organization and its clients or suppliers or vendors
purchasing, pricing, sales, or financial data
personnel data on any employee or ex-employee
information provided by other organizations under confidentiality agreements.

Development of basic policies can be done using samples from your professional/trade organizations or your network. However – it is vital to ensure that each policy is designed to support your desired culture. Having such policies checked by your lawyer, appropriate consultants, or vendors is important to ensure you minimize your risks. The policies then provide a basis for orientation of new employees as well as training of all employees and regular reminders on need for each employee to protect the organizations’ assets.

Remember that policies that are difficult or complicated lead to […]

By |February 22nd, 2016|Business planning, hiring, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on SmallBiz Nightmares: Employees and Security

Veterans, Veterans Day, & Your Business

Locally there are many official and area celebrations of Veterans Day and many military installations, so it may mean more to us than just another ‘sales holiday’.  Obviously, it means more to me.  But what could it mean to your business or organization?

It could mean that your business thrives by hiring veterans as well as providing services or products to them. There are many local resources to help you in attracting and hiring veterans. Veterans offer you:

a wide range of technical skills,
ability to deal with high-change environments
experience in demanding and fast-paced environments,
commitment to your mission and values, and
in-depth training and experience in supervisory and interpersonal skills.

Military spouses and family members also form an excellent labor pool to draw from. You can work with the family center offices at area military bases to attract both veterans and spouses. These include both the Employment Readiness Program and Transition Assistance Program at the centers, named as below
Army: Army Community Service
Navy: Fleet and Family Support Center,
Air Force: Airmen and Family Readiness Center,
Marine Corps: Marine Corps Readiness Center, or
Coast Guard: Coast Guard Work Life.
These programs usually accept job postings. Many run employer days and job fairs. Contact the installations closest to you.

The US Department of Labor has an excellent guide to help you in the process of developing your ability to hire transitioning military effectively – “Hiring Veterans – Step by Step Toolkit for Employers”

An excellent toolkit for hiring veterans, based on extensive private sector research, is available from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

In Virginia, ‘Virginia Values Veterans’ is a training and certification program on hiring veterans available here

Maryland also offers support for employers seeking to hire veterans  here .

So this year, when the anniversary […]

By |November 8th, 2015|Business planning, hiring, Smart practices|Comments Off on Veterans, Veterans Day, & Your Business

Should You Hire? 3 Common Mistakes

Hiring employees or independent contractors is an on-going challenge to many small -mid-size businesses. When, who, what can I afford – all come into play. These are among the most common mistakes I see.

1. What skills and experience do you really need?

Classically, smaller employers want folks to wear multiple hats. There are some people who love doing a variety of types of work each day. But the work combinations must make sense and be right for your organization’s needs.

There may be a terrific sales person who is happy to be doing administrative work half of the time – but I have not met such a combination of attributes.

Two part-timers or outsourcing each area to experts or some combination makes far more sense in situations where the work needs are very different.

2. I hate to do sales… and other tasks you dislike

I often see founders who really dislike marketing and sales work. I am not too thrilled with it myself. But in most cases, the best business developer for the business is the founder or top executive. Potential clients want to know you before they will consider hiring your firm.

This can be true of other critical business aspects as well. If your business is highly technical, clients want to see the that founder or CEO knows the technology.

And are you really ready to give up these responsibilities? Many aren’t when it comes down to doing so – and they micromanage and wonder why they are not getting their own time back or the results desired. Giving up critical parts of your job is often more difficult than you expect.

In these cases of things that you dislike doing , you may need to hire support. But […]

Which Are Employees? Trouble Ahead or Not?

Many small and mid-size organizations use a range of people to meet their goals. Some are employees; others are vendors, independent contractors, freelancers, consultants, temporary, or casual labor.

States and federal government agencies are in significant enforcement efforts to ensure that anyone who is really an employee is actually treated as an employee. States complain that they are losing tax revenues. There are legal concerns about who is covered by various laws, like workers compensation. And there is concern about benefits and financial security. The increase in company efforts to reduce costs plus the use of freelancers and companies like TaskRabbit have aggravated these issues.

So how do you know who is really your employee?

Certainly there are monetary costs to making everyone who does anything for your organization an employee. And there are some people who do work for you who are easily outside the employee relationship. If you use a CPA or legal firm, for example, you know those are not your employees. When you hire someone through a temporary employment agency to do a short-term job, the agency is the employer.

If you hire temporary, seasonal, or casual labor directly, they are usually employees.

But what happens if you have a bookkeeper who comes in on a regular basis for a couple days each week? Does the bookkeeper have multiple clients for her own business? If so, she is not your employee. If not, she is likely to be your employee.

If you use a business which offers services to the public to provide you with services, contract work, or consulting then you are not likely to be the employer — unless your firm is the only client of that business.

When you consider bringing someone in to […]

Smarter Hiring Checklist

Thinking about hiring new employees or interns? Smart hires require some planning. Too often small businesses are rushed and desperate when hiring and then have performance or retention problems.

Here is a basic checklist outline to help you develop your own process and checklist for more effective hiring.

* Why do we need this position?
* What specific skills, training, and abilities do we need at a minimum?
* What additional attributes would we like to have?
* What sources exist to find someone to fill this position?
* What is our hiring plan for this position?   (Include any paperwork)
* Who will take the lead and who else will be involved in this hiring?   (Have all been trained in hiring? Know the specifications?)
* Resume/application review process defined?   (Are you covered by retention requirements for legal or EEO needs?)
* Telephone screening screening interviews of all potentials.
* Pre-employment testing, if required.
* Interview selected applicants.   (Who will schedule, interview, decide?)
* Analyze applicants for skills/ability, attitude/motivation, organizational fit.   (Standards & form to document?)
* Select best match.
* Check references.   (background checks if required)
* Make offer by phone, follow up in writing.   (medical/drug tests if required)
* After offer is accepted, notify those not selected.
* Prepare for new hire (space, equipment, materials, work plan)
* Orient new hire to organization and function, discuss first week’s work plan and why selected.

Happy to work with you to help you achieve your hiring goals and train those involved, just call!

WANT TO HIRE THE BEST?

Planning hiring is a standard part of business planning. But too often we just plug in a standard title and some $$ in the budget and think it is done.
Want to hire the best matches for your needs?
Want to hire people who will succeed and stay?
Top Tips for Smart Hiring

Tip 1. Develop a recruiting plan for new hires – and use it for replacements also. Include these parts for each potential position:

desired attributes, specific skills, attributes to avoid, possible demographics
potential sources of candidates
application and selection process

Commonly we focus on specific technical or professional skills we are seeking and we might add ‘soft skills’ like good communications or ability to maintain confidentiality. But you want to really focus on the ‘whole person’ you need. In defining desired attributes as well as specific skills, you help yourself focus on cultural fit – the attributes needed to succeed in your organization and the position.

You may also want to realize what attributes you want to avoid. “Don’t hire jerks” is a recent push.  Many companies have tolerated jerks if they brought in revenue or were technically brilliant in a core field.

If you want to broaden the creativity of your group, plan for possible retirements, or know you are losing a key person; then you also may want to consider demographics. This is rarely a ‘must have’ but more usually a preference. You might want some maturity in one position and someone with a different industry background for another. I, of course, hope you will also consider hiring a veteran.

Tip 2. Consider potential sources of candidates.

Have your best people come from one or two specific sources?
Do you encourage employees to refer people for your open positions?
Are you working […]

Top Tips for Checking References Successfully

Some executives think that checking references is impossible. “No one will answer honestly” or “All I get is those automated systems” are common complaints. Many admit to not even trying to check references because they assume it will be useless and time wasted.

Yet, references can add significantly to your understanding of whether a candidate will succeed in your organization. And doing reference checks may protect you from problems, turnover, and legal risks.

Sure, you may need to call some people at home if they are unwilling to talk at work. Or you may want to stress that you want to hire the person but need to complete reference checks to do so to get more information.

How do effective reference checks happen?

Tip 1. One of the smartest things you can do is create a reference check format to help guide the conversation. This should include a bit about your culture and vision as well as the most critical elements of the job and of what it takes to succeed in your world.  Basic format:

Who you are and why you are calling.
Say you appreciate their time and that the applicant gave them as a reference.
Start with the easy questions of how the person knows the applicant and for how long.
Check where they worked together and what each did.
Talk about your organization and then ask about any soft skills that are important to succeeding – creativity or dependability or team work or whatever.
Discuss the job basics and ask how the person rates the applicant on the most important ones.
Move on to areas where the applicant could grow further and what it would take for that to happen.
Before you close, ask for anyone else who might be another reference […]

By |December 1st, 2014|hiring|0 Comments

TO HIRE … OR NOT TO HIRE?

Some entrepreneurs rush to hire too many, too soon and cannot support them. Others wait too long and do too much low margin work hindering their success.

The decision about whether and when to add staff is always a tough one. And these economic times make it more emotionally charged. Getting the help you need to grow and succeed is critical.

So how do you decide when or whether to hire?  Ask yourself:

Question 1: Is the need actually long-term and at the core of my business?

In this case, an employee may be the best bet. Example: if you are a small organization and can hire a person who will directly support current clients, you free some time to grow the business. A retailer may be able to add hours or serve customers faster and thus increase revenue with an extra hire.

Question 2: Would out-sourcing be worth considering?

Even with a core mission and long term need, you may want to consider other options. Some functions are smart to out-source due to the technical nature of the work or the need for constant personnel/equipment upgrading. IT services come immediately to mind. Others that are critical to your success may also be in this category. Functions may also be done by a contractor, such as a bookkeeper or a virtual assistant.

Question 3: Is the need for a specific period of time?

Such work, whether for a brief period or many months, may be most effectively done by hiring someone specifically as a short-term employee or via a temporary staffing agency.

Question 4: Does the work require expertise you don’t have?

Here you may consider hiring a management or specialized consultant or a freelancer, depending on the type of work, project demands, and […]

By |September 8th, 2014|hiring|0 Comments

TIPS TO READ APPLICANT RESUMES EFFECTIVELY

Most businesses look at resumes when hiring people. Whether you asked your network for referrals or posted a sign in the window or placed an ad somewhere, your stated requirements are the minimum standard. But do you really know how to read a resume?

Start with a basic screen of the resumes received to find the best matches. For each:

What does it’s overall structure and appearance tell you?
Does it show actual achievements or just position responsibilities?
Does it show a pattern of increased knowledge, skill, and/or responsibility?
Has the person solved business or technical problems similar to yours?
Does it show a pattern of achievement, with adequate details provided as proof?

Once you have selected those resumes closest to your needs, take the time to actually read for details and content.

Tip 1. Has the person done work which prepared them for your job?

Unless you are seeking an entry level person, you want to see whether the applicant has specifically demonstrated the knowledge and achievements related to what you need.

Casting a wide net is smart – you need to know both their technical or skill specific qualifications and how they work. Evaluate where they worked, what they did, and how effective they were. Job titles can be misleading but details tell the story. Look for candidates who provide information clearly.

Match your needs first, then your other ‘wants’.

Tip 2. How close is the resume to your needs?

Did the person use the keywords you use? Tailor it to the specific job you are trying to fill? Does the resume demonstrate progress, attention to detail, and any important ‘soft skills’ you want?

A resume is usually a person’s ‘best foot forward’ – is their best good enough to meet your expectations?

Is there a cover […]

By |June 30th, 2014|hiring|0 Comments