A real Christmas present: employment

Hiring someone who’s been out of work for a while is the best gift you can give


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By now you may have received numerous pleas from various Santa funds -- “tis the Season,” as they say. The pleas come in various forms (email, direct mail, articles in the media, parish bulletins, etc.), yet they all seem to have one thing in common. It seems more people need help than ever before.

If that’s true, where’s the supposed recovery? If more and more people need help, things aren’t getting better -- they’re getting worse.

OK, so the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 are doing pretty well. That’s great for our 401(k)s, but it’s not doing much for the unemployed. Many of the listed companies are international, and many of those profits and jobs are generated overseas.

Remember the old joke about the difference between a recession and a depression? A recession is when you lose your job; a depression is when I lose mine. There’s a lot of truth to that. I’m amazed at the number of people who feel it’s not an issue until they’re personally affected.

“We go out to restaurants all the time, and the dining rooms are full. There’s plenty of money around. What’s the problem?”

That’s certainly one way of looking at it, but sometime later, after being out of work for over a year, they were singing a different tune.

“We’re behind on our mortgage and car payments; we’ve used up all our savings and we’re maxing out our credit cards. What are we going to do?”

This couple never figured they’d both lose their jobs within a couple weeks of each other. ’Tis the Season to be jolly, but sometimes it’s harder than others.

Many companies try to do something nice for the less fortunate during the holidays. Collection boxes for “Toys for Tots” can be seen in some lobbies. A good-sized check to a local charity can often make a big difference in people’s lives. Whether they’re done to “give back” or create goodwill, such gestures tend to remind us that there can be a noble side to business.

I’d like to suggest an additional (not instead of, but additional) strategy: Are you hiring?

With all the unemployed, there’s likely to be considerable interest in any jobs we may have. It’s an employer’s market, and it’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking we will hire the very best available for any positions we are trying to fill.

Sounds good, but a careful and objective review of our hiring processes will probably reveal that we are incapable of doing such a thing. In fact, there’s a very good chance we won’t even pick the very best from the candidates we do get.

Temp-to-perm option

Whether we use agencies or advertise and screen on our own, we usually end up with some number of acceptable candidates. There may be more, and there may be much better ones, but we probably won’t keep looking after we have those acceptable ones.

Have you ever been disappointed with a new hire despite your careful scrutiny? Have you ever been unexpectedly delighted with a new hire? Most seasoned managers can answer yes to both questions, a clear indication our hiring processes aren’t quite as good as we’d like to think.

I’d like to suggest adding one criterion to your search criteria. Look for someone who’s been out a long time. In today’s market it’s quite possible that such a person could be very good, albeit unlucky, in their job search.

If you’re nervous about this, hire someone as a temp for a period with a permanent job possibility after he or she has demonstrated your expectations can be met.

Such a person may be a lot hungrier and eager to please than an apparent superstar you can hire from another company, and the temp-to-perm option dramatically reduces the risk.

Even more importantly, at this time of year, you could really make a difference in someone’s life, and their family’s lives too. A real job would make a much bigger difference than a Christmas basket or toys for the kids.

And you just might find that you’ve hired someone who will exceed all your expectations. Take someone off the edge, and you may earn their undying gratitude. Of course, desperation has a way of making us try even harder.

“Do good, and good will come of it.”

Happy holidays to you, your family and all the people that work with you. May 2013 be your best yet!

Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Windham, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or RonBourque@myfairpoint.net.


 

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