Get What You Want – And What You Need - Editor's Note
Construction Equipment Distribution magazine is published by the Associated Equipment Distributors, a nonprofit trade association founded in 1919, whose membership is primarily comprised of the leading equipment dealerships and rental companies in the U.S. and Canada. AED membership also includes equipment manufacturers and industry-service firms. CED magazine has been published continuously since 1920. Associated Equipment Distributors
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Contact Kim Phelan at (800) 388-0650 ext. 340.

Get What You Want – And What You Need

By Kim Phelan

Article Date: 04-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave gut feelings and snap impressions at the door when you start hiring, eventually.

A long time ago I heard a preacher – a single gentleman – wryly comment on the reason for his bachelorhood: “I guess I’d rather want what I don’t have,” he said, “than have what I don’t want.”
Ain’t it the truth. (just kidding!)
That phrase has stuck with me over the years, and it certainly applies to the business world as you come at the subject of hiring, and its evil twin, firing. Over the last year or so I’ve heard and read a lot of cautions regarding the dangers of termination from a litigious perspective – AED and CEDhave featured experts to help dealers navigate that trail of nails. But what about hiring? Why would an employer take a casual approach to bringing a new staffer into the company?
First, let’s tap the brake for a second to acknowledge that hiring may be the furthest thing from your mind right now – you might well be echoing a statement I heard recently by Gene Marks, a small-business owner, speaker and columnist: “I’m not hiring in 2010 unless my people absolutely scream for mercy, and they’re not, yet.”
But from the looks of the consolidation landscape, many dealers that are in acquisition mode may indeed be scouring for the best and brightest to serve customers in their newly expanded territories. And whether or not your region is actually feeling any signs of recovery yet, CEDcolumnist and executive search veteran Bill Sitter indicates in this issue that it’s probably time to brush up on your best practices for hiring high-quality “horsepower.”
So, let’s assume that one day in the not-so-distant future that you will again want to recruit fabulous talent back onto the roster. Thus I repeat, why would anyone treat so large a decision lightly? And some do. In a February webinar hosted by KPA, Kathryn Carlson, product director for HotlinkHR, quoted a study showing that “63 percent of all hiring decisions are made during the first 4.3 minutes of an interview.”
Wait, you’ve made up your mind in just four minutes?!
“Not the best basis for making good hiring decisions,” said Carlson, who added that the cost of making a bad hire is approximately two times the annual salary for that position. And while you may or may not agree with that estimation, the point is: Don’t wind up having what you don’t want – and encumbered with having to shed it.
Carlson brought up some solid and easily applied advice during her presentation, which is available as a recording with slides at First, she recommends that you use five fundamental tools consistently for every single hire:
  • An effective job application form (to weed out the riffraff, so to speak – your time is too valuable to waste on the obviously unqualified)
  • Conduct a behavioral interview (And for goodness sake, don’t talk about yourself the whole time!)
  • Personally contact references (Carlson says that well more than half of job applicants misrepresent information on their resumes.)
  • Perform a background check
  • Use a scorecard to make objective decision (I really liked her suggestion to keep an apples-to-apples rating for each candidate – her sample scorecard is downloadable at www.kpaonline/scorecard.)
I’d also like to share another set of “5s” that Carlson highlighted in that webinar, her formula for getting the hiring process right.

1.)Follow a defined process. In other words, just be consistent and objective in what you do.
2.)Use the five tools, outlined above.
3.)Always be recruiting – so word gets out what a great employer you are.
4.)Include others in the process – second opinions aren’t just for health problems.
5.)Never talk yourself into saying “yes.”
On No. 5, I guess that’s an easy place to compromise, but it’s the final threshold of doom! If you have to either convince yourself or shrug your shoulders in tired acceptance, you’d better get a good night’s sleep and start over the next morning. A woman once told me that when she was hired her supervisor said to her: “I guess you’ll do.” Five years later neither she nor the supervisor were employed at the company – one was just wrong for the job, and one was, well, just an undiscerning manager.
Hope these simple tips help you and your management team proceed with care when the time comes to ramp up. Meanwhile, please give plenty of good old fashioned “thank yous” to the good folks you’ve got.
Thanks for reading.

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