Every May, a new graduating class enters the world seeking employment. And I typically lose two or three employees who have been working for us while they have been working toward their degree.
Owning a retail store has many challenges but the most difficult part of owning the business is finding the right employees. At Vircity, we look for employees who are professionals but also enjoy working with the public. Finding the right employee is difficult, especially given the variety of services we provide – copying, faxing, scanning, word processing, event planning, bookkeeping, graphic design, etc.
Every potential employee walks in our door with an idea of which area within our business they are interested in learning more about, and those with talent rarely want to know more about how to deal with retail customers who want to ship a FedEx package, send a fax or make a copy.
So my goal is to create a balance between working the store and helping them toward their next professional goal. Over the years, I have instituted a few processes to help me in analyzing my talent.
1. Does the candidate read? At the bottom of my job descriptions, I ask the candidate to submit his or her resume along with their answers to five generic questions. I love the resumes and emails that come in saying that they are “detailed oriented” but do not have the answers to the questions.
2. Does the candidate understand the proper use of grammar? Since we typically communicate with our virtual client members via email, it’s important for our employees to be able to write. You can learn a lot from the answers to the questions sent in. For example, I ask “Do you have customer service experience?” A thought-out response is what I’m looking for. No more than three-to-five sentences. But when the answer is “Yes” or “I interact with them customers with an open greeting,” I know this is not the ideal candidate for my business.
3. Does the candidate represent themselves professionally? We deal with professionals and my staff needs to also be professional. Therefore, when evaluating resumes, I’m checking spelling as well as small details such as the organization of the resume and their email address. Here are some email addresses I’ve received – “sexymomma,” “Ihateu” and “johnnysmom.” With free email accounts accounts available, a professional email address is a necessity. My other favorite thing to check is Facebook. For one potential candidate, for example, a prominent photo showed the candidate with middle fingers in the air.
4. Have employees screen potential candidates. If a candidate makes it through the question screening, I then ask my staff to interview the candidate first. Why should I spend time meeting with a candidate if the employees I have on hand do not like them? We have a staff of fewer than 10 employees. In a smaller business, synergy is important and the last thing I need to spend time on is personality conflicts.
5. Don’t get lazy – check references! I cannot tell you how many candidates have made it through to this point and their references give them a less-than-glowing review. One fantastic candidate gave me her prior boss. I could not wait to talk to them after meeting with her. She interviewed as if interviewing was her job. The boss informed me that she was always late to work and he would never hire her again. Needless to say, I did not hire her.