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How can I find and keep qualified employees?

Two of the greatest challenges for any business are hiring the right people and keeping them. Employees, and more importantly their contributions, are a business’ most important assets. A vibrant economy and low unemployment makes the competition for top performers an imposing challenge. So how do you go about finding, selecting and retaining the best people?


Decide What You Want

Before beginning your hiring efforts, know what you want. One way to list the skills, experience, and other attributes you are looking for is in categories of:

  • must have – skills you do not have the time, money or desire to teach but which are absolutely necessary to the job.
  • should have – sets of skills in which the candidate should have some degree of knowledge or skill
  • nice to have – what you’d love to have but can live without

Search in the Right Places

Basically, the harder it is for you to find the skills you need, the wider the net you must cast. You may choose from local media, the District’s employment center, and using the Internet. View any employment ad as a marketing tool for your company, making it as appealing as possible. Put a headline on your ad that describes the absolutely best benefit you can offer. Be sure to add your must-have list of skills, experience, and education. To get qualified people without having to weed through a pile of applications, be specific about what you say and very selective about where you place the ad.

Don’t underestimate the value of networking. You may choose to ask your best employees if they know someone who would fit into your organization and might be interested in joining or use your network in the community to find employees.

Conduct a Thorough Interview

Give the applicant a complete and accurate picture of your business. In today’s tight job market, you have to sell both yourself and your company. Through your questions, cover the job’s must-haves, should-haves, and nice-to-haves and be sure to obtain a clear picture of where the candidate is in relation to these attributes. Remember, good questions lead to good answers – the more you learn about each applicant’s experience and skills, the better prepared you are to make your decision. If you find yourself talking as much or more than the candidate, stop – you only learn about the candidate when you are listening. Don’t be afraid to press a candidate for more information – it is then that you may learn important information.

Hire the Right Person

Some tips for choosing who to hire are:

  • go with your gut
  • accomplishments are what really matter
  • attitude counts
  • be objective

The three critical elements in hiring the right people for the job are skills match, company fit, and job match. Be objective in determining which candidates have the best overall fit.
In terms of wages, try to be a leader in your market – think about the cost of paying a little more versus the cost of turnover (roughly 25% of salary and benefits).

Hang on to Good Employees

Retention of employees is as important as the initial hire. An individual’s suitability to a particular job is the single most important factor in job performance and retention. Be sure to provide people jobs that fit with their personality and then take the time for a proper orientation. Listen to them and continue to provide training and skills development opportunities. Set clear expectations, show concern for employees, and treat them fairly.

Your business’ reputation is a key element in retaining employees and attracting new ones. Make sure that you know how your business is perceived in the community and do whatever it takes to make that perception a positive one.

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