Accentuate the Negative
by Mel Kleiman, CSP
With fewer and fewer jobs
available these days, companies might expect to see an increase in the
number of qualified people applying for any position available.
And with so many people looking for a job in a limited job market, you
might even think that companies are living in a hiring paradise.
Frequently, this isn't the case at all. Companies find that although they
may receive as many or more applications, employee turnover and dissatisfaction
is still high. Finding
a qualified applicant in a 50-applicant pool can be as much of a challenge
as finding one in a pool of five.
Perhaps part of the problem
lies in the way managers are viewing those applications. Perhaps instead
of looking first at what's right with the prospective employee managers
need to start looking at what's wrong with them instead.
Initially separating the most qualified from the least qualified is a
simple task but managers often don't use their analytical skills after
the applicant walks through the door.
Because time and effort have
been invested in reviewing the applications, contacting the applicant
and setting aside time to meet with them, managers want a right fit, even
when there isn't one. Taking the time to look first at applicants' negatives
can prevent losing even more time, energy and money in the future.
For example, let's say you
are about to interview a candidate who has worked as a clerk for a local
chain for six years. Your company needs an experienced clerk and from
the looks of the application, this appears to be a perfect fit. After
all, he's been with his previous employer since the beginning, doing the
same thing, every day, for six years. It certainly seems like he would
be an ideal employee. Or would he....? An employee's time at a company
does not always equal experience. It may in fact - just equal time.
Knowing what you know about
your company and about your industry, can you recall the last great employee
you had in the same position for that length of time? Extenuating circumstances
aside, most great employees want more out of you as you do out of them.
More time at a company should bring with it a higher level of investment,
more responsibility, and even a need for change and growth. Why hasn't
this applicant been promoted or given more responsibility in six years?
Thinking about his experience in a negative light just might prove to
have a positive outcome for your organization.
If your purpose is to attract
and retain a group of strong, energetic and dynamic employees, hiring
a person who shies away from additional responsibility, and balks at new
and challenging roles is inconsistent with your purpose.
Looking at applicants in
a negative perspective helps identify and prevent high turnover rates
and employee dissatisfaction. Looking only at what's right with an applicant
doesn't take into account the whole person, leaving you with an inaccurate
assessment of who they are and what they can do. Paying attention to the
negative aspects of an applicant's experience can actually be a positive
move for you both.
Mel Kleiman, CSP, is
an internationally recognized consultant, author, and speaker on strategies
for hiring and retaining the best hourly employees. He is the President
of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training, processes, and
tools for recruiting, selecting, and retaining the best hourly workforce.
Mel is also the author of four books, including the best selling "Hire
Tough Manage Easy." You can reach Mel at (800) 218-0930 or (713) 771-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.