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We're recruiting two new employees, a full-time writer-editor, and a new sales representative for our planned Northern Ontario publication. In recruiting I've found one of the best sources of referrals is often newly hired employees -- who themselves have made it through our rigorous selection process. Their network often leads to really talented people with different skills. The referral value, of course, is less if a departing employee suggests a replacement. That person does not have a stake in the future of the company. I still remember well a departing editor who 'recommended' someone totally incompetent (who lasted for about three weeks before we hired the right person.)
The referral process through the Carleton University School of Journalism is leading some solid candidates to us. We'll give the finalists a simple two-part assignment. They need to suggest worthy stories -- and then write them (for modest freelance compensation). If they can think, write, and innovate, they have a shot at the job permanently.
The Northern Ontario sales representative is presenting a greater challenge. We've posted online ads in several Northern Ontario communities on the federal government's job bank (in Canada the federal government provides services in the U.S. commonly provided by State employment or labor departments.)
Most of the applications are, well, less than inspired. We don't really read the initial applications -- almost all candidates receive our standard employment questionnaire. For the sales position, we invite candidates to call if they have questions about the questionnaire. Usually this is a sign of intelligence.
But today, I took a call and spent 10 minutes on the phone with someone who clearly didn't get it. And when Amanda, our administrative assistant, read this person's questionnaire responses, she broke out in laughter. I can't say we behaved with total maturity as we reviewed the incongruous and less-than-inspired email. I suppose the document would make a great 'viral posting' but I'm showing enough disrespect for this person without making things worse.
It may be bad form to share around the office a 'hoot' resume/response, but there is serious business underneath the surface here. I believe a business is defined by the calibre and competence of the people it employs -- if employees are talented, motivated, enthusiastic, and work well together, the business will succeed. If not, it will fail.
As a business, we truly are open to anyone -- and our selection system is fair and complies both with the legality and intent of human rights and anti discrimination rules. But we won't reduce our standards. Hiring someone just because they are 'okay' or 'not the worst of the lot' is almost inevitably a mistake.
When the two new employees join us, we'll settle down for a while -- perhaps hiring some back-up administrative and sales support to handle the increased business volume. Next week, we'll have our annual planning and budget meeting and review our progress and success. And in that plan, we'll review the criteria and guidelines for further growth. I'm not going to repeat the mistakes from last time around of expanding wildly without thought or planning.