HireAHelper Named to ‘Inc. 5000’ 2018 Top Entrepreneurs List Four Years Running

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HireAHelper has graced Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000” list for the fourth time, earning recognition as one of the nation’s top businesses, with an impressive 99 percent revenue growth year over year.

What can we say? Moving people is what we do, and we love doing it.

The full press release is readable below. To see the full list of companies, check out the Inc. 5000 website here.

SEATTLE – August 20, 2018 – HireAHelper, an online marketplace for those looking to hire well-qualified, local movers by the hour, today announced that it has been named to the 2018 Inc. 5000 list, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies by Inc. magazine. Companies are ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2014 and 2018. HireAHelper ranked 3,724th nationally with 99 percent revenue growth.

“Being listed among the Inc. 5000 is an honor that every member of our HireAHelper family can be proud of,” said Mike Glanz, Co-Founder and CEO of HireAHelper. “It’s through their collective effort that this honor was achieved. I’m very grateful to serve alongside such a stellar group of highly-dedicated moving professionals each and every day.”

Started in 1982, the Inc. 5000 list represents a unique look t the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment – its independent small businesses. To qualify, companies had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent – not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies. The minimum revenue required for 2014 is $100,000; the minimum for 2017 is $2 million.

“If your company is on the Inc. 5000, it’s unparalleled recognition of your years of hard work and sacrifice,” says Inc. editor in chief, James Ledbetter. “The lines of business may come and go, or come and stay. What doesn’t change is the way entrepreneurs create and accelerate the forces that shape our lives.”

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at https://www.inc.com/inc5000.

The 37th Annual Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala will be held in San Antonio on October 17-19, 2018 at the JW Marriott Resort & Spa.

About HireAHelper

HireAHelper is an online marketplace for moving labor, providing both commercial and residential customers with the additional help they need to complete their relocation project. Since its launch in 2007, the company has served 250,000 do-it-yourself movers from across the United States.

 

Media Contact

Jeff Pecor

Tailwind Public Relations

206.948.1482

[email protected]

 

From Bartender to Moving CEO: Building a Business on ‘Happy’

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Business advice is interesting. We like it when we come across someone who has risen from humble beginnings to reach an admirable level of success. We like to read about them. We like to learn what they learned so we can do what they’ve done.

Recently, the moving world was introduced to Ross Sapir, an immigrant from Israel who took his experience as a hotel bartender and started a moving company that did a million dollars their first year. It wasn’t a direct road, though. It was his time working as a salesman for someone else’s company in between that got him wondering why moving made people so unhappy, and how he might be able to change that.

What the heck did he do differently?

“Happy” is a word that can be empty or full of meaning. For Sapir, it was the foundation of his business. In this Alister and Paine interview, he lays out a few of the ideas that got him and his company moving up fast. I’ll lay them out for you, along with some tidbits of my own.

  1. “We don’t just move stuff. We move people.”

Ross Sapir

This wasn’t just a quick phrase Sapir read on Twitter, but it was his experience working for a hotel was what taught him that. “When you go to a hotel, you don’t just sleep in a bed,” he says. “You go because of the experience.” He adds that if hotels were just about sleeping, you’d go to a Motel 6. (Of course, considering there are over 1,400 Motel 6 locations in the US, we can assume there are people who really just want a cheap place to sleep. But I digress.)

Put this in the context of a moving company. Sure, a customer may just want their stuff moved from Point A to Point B for a few hundred dollars, but if there’s a positive experience built into the process that customer becomes, as Sapir puts it, “a fan for life.”

That fan will tell other people about you and will call you again the next time they need to move. And that fan may have a lot more stuff the second time around, making their move a several thousand dollar deal. Some of you probably know how cool it is to have return customers. I definitely know I do.

  1. “We don’t hide behind limited liability.”

Sapir says if a TV is broken during a move, instead of giving the customer sixty cents per pound, he’ll buy that customer a new TV – maybe even something better than the one they had. This turns an ugly situation into a great one and an unhappy customer into another fan for life.

That advice said, we don’t advocate replacing every item that gets dinged, scratched or marred. Happy customers are good; bankruptcy is not. Rather, this unwritten, over-the-top policy of replacing an item that gets destroyed regardless of what is legally required should be the exception, not the rule, and it is the general mindset that you should highly consider adopting.

  1. “We read books.”

And we aren’t just talking about how-to guides and user’s manuals. We mean books by successful people in all areas of business and even beyond. Sapir mentions Delivering Happiness by a guy who sold his shoe company, Zappos, for over one billion dollars. (Yup, that’s billion with a ‘b’.) “I wanted my company to be built on that book,” says Sapir.

Whether you’re looking to build your bottom line, improve your company culture, become a better boss or just increase your level of satisfaction, there are tons of books out there to choose from.

And by the way…

Sapir tosses in a couple of other tidbits that are well worth heeding, including ideas that have nothing to do with moving furniture but everything to do with building a great moving company.

One, get negative and small-minded people out of your life. They’ll only keep you from reaching your goals.

And two? You have to work your butts off. In case we didn’t already know that!

How One Moving Company Totally Changed Employee Engagement, and How You Can Do It too

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If you’ve ever come across the phrase “Company Culture”, there’s a good chance it was in relation to free snacks and foosball tables for the employees at Google or Apple. “Employee Engagement”? That’s for the consulting world with a thousand seminars on white-collar management skills. We never hear these fancy terms and “moving company” in the same conversation, let alone the same sentence.

Or do we?

Traditionally, there hasn’t been much behind the nuts and bolts of the work of a moving company. We show up, we do the job, and we treat the customer right. Nothing to it – except a lot of back-breaking labor.

But times are changing. Employees are changing. What people want out of their jobs is evolving. For us to survive and succeed, we have to evolve too.

But how?

What exactly is employee engagement?

On the inside, you could say it’s an attitude, a consistent state of mind wherein an employee likes to go to work because he or she is tuned in to what the company they work for is all about. On the outside, it’s the visible result of this mindset. 

There’s a whole lot more to it than that – and volumes have been written on the subject – but at the end of the day, employee engagement is the difference between a bunch of individuals working for their paychecks and a team of people working toward a common goal.

Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just have a bunch of fully-engaged people walk in and fill out applications to work for us? Yeah, good luck with that. Even if that occasional motivated and bright individual does walk through our doors, he or she isn’t going to stick around unless there’s a feeling of engagement. And where does that feeling come from?

You got it. It comes from management. It is up to each of us to create an environment where individuals morph into a team.

And how do we do that? How do we create an atmosphere that will not only attract good people but help us hold onto them? This is where that other term, “Company Culture”, comes into play.

“Company Culture”: The real driving force behind employee engagement

HAPPY EMPLOYEES = ENGAGED EMPLOYEES = PROFITS = SUCCESS.

While this is not a universal truth, it’s a solid foundation on which to build a successful business.

But without a positive company culture, those employees aren’t going to be very happy. So they won’t be engaged. And then there goes our equation for success.

The term “Company Culture” has been thrown around a lot – usually in the context of free snacks and a spacious employee lounge. While this might work at a place like Google, it doesn’t work everywhere. And really, it’s all just stuff. Culture is not just “stuff”.

Culture, in any group situation, consists of the patterns of behavior that determine how things are done. Company culture, then, is how the entire employee structure, from the CEO on down, approaches work on a daily basis. It’s the accepted and ongoing set of behaviors that produce what we hope is a feeling of happiness and a sense of engagement among our employees.

Wait a minute. Behaviors, not things, produce happiness?

That’s right. Those happy employees are not to be mistaken as the foundation of a positive workplace culture. Happy employees are a result of a positive culture that is built on the behaviors that align with our company goals.

At a moving company, where the main goal is to provide a stellar moving experience, it is critical to create an environment – a culture – that fosters stellar customer service.

This can include free snacks and energy drinks for your crews – something Meathead Movers, a growing moving company who utilizes many company culture techniques, began providing as a part of their cultural revolution. But there’s more to it says Erin Steed, Chief Strategy Officer at Meathead,

“We changed the culture. … We started doing in-person estimates so we can make sure we’re putting the right amount of men on the job. In addition, we empowered our dispatchers to give our employees whatever they want. ‘So you’re feeling a little tweaked. OK, do you need a chiropractor appointment? Do you need a massage?’

In addition, we expanded the job description of the worker. To make money with us you don’t just have to move heavy furniture. You can also do administrative work, you can wash the trucks, sweep the floors. … It kind of matured from an immature “macho man” business to one that’s really like a sports team where we take care of the employees and make sure there’s a sustainability.”

This, among other strategies outlined in the interview, is how the people at Meathead are focused on creating a culture that will further employee engagement – two elements of which, as this piece from Strategy + Business called “Improving Company Culture Is Not About Providing Free Snacks” invokes, means giving an empowerment to make decisions and a freedom to innovate.

Meathead does both, giving their dispatchers more control and being open to advice from their crew members. (Their VIP Chair idea is great.)

Giving them a reason to change

Giving your employees both the material things (like energy drinks and massages) and immaterial things (like the power to make decisions) helps create a more engaging culture. Just keep in mind that the culture-building process is a two-way street. The thing is, if your employees aren’t yet engaged, they won’t really be scrambling to jump on board the company culture boat. You have to get them there first. To get them moving in the right direction, your approach is crucial.

Say you want your crews to be more consistent in cleaning out and straightening up the trucks at the end of each day, or maybe to stop wearing jeans to work. Simply going around telling everyone loudly “hey enough with the jeans, I want everyone in navy blue pants from now on” may work for a while, but it’s not an effective long-term strategy for developing a positive company culture.

If your employees don’t see any real benefit to cleaning the trucks and ditching the jeans, they aren’t going to do it – at least not for long. You can promise monetary bonuses. You can threaten to fire them. 

But without a meaningful reason, all the promises and threats in the world won’t change them. And it sure won’t make them happy.

Believe me, I know.

So how do we go about changing our employees’ ways?

How to develop our employees’ motivations

Motivations come from relating behavior to reasons, and then to goals. Why is it important to straighten up the trucks at the end of every day? “Because that’s what we do” is not a reason, a goal or a motivator. “So everyone (including you!) can hit the road in the morning” is a much better start. Follow up with the idea that customers love it when their movers are on time, and are apt to tip a little better after that positive first impression. “And besides, you don’t want to have to clean up someone else’s mess, right?”

You have to relate the desired behavior to a directly consequential result.

Here’s a story: In my earliest days as a mover, I was working on an unload in Colorado when one of the guys started folding up the furniture pads while the rest of us were hauling in the last few boxes and pieces of base. “Come help when you’re done,” he said to me. And as the crew leader was finishing up the paperwork with the customer, the rest of us banged out the rest of those pads and cleaned and swept the back of the truck. As soon as we pulled into the lot back at the shop, everybody split.

No time wasted, and the truck was ready to go the next morning. Positive company culture in action. Which brings up a second way to develop employee motivation.

Here, it wasn’t the dispatcher or the operations manager or the boss who was telling me to help fold those pads. It was one of my fellow crew members. This is a point made by, among others, strategy&: the importance of peer reinforcement cannot be underestimated and should certainly not be overlooked.

Culture might start at the top,” we are told, “but it is reinforced at every level. Having a peer point out the benefits of change, instead of an executive or manager, is very powerful and leads to improved behaviors that continue even when nobody is looking.”

As a new guy, I’d probably be inclined to do what my boss tells me anyway – at least for a while. But seeing my fellow crew members tackle the job without hesitation – or explanation – made a bigger impression on me than it would have if my new boss had lectured me on it. So in the course of your quest to evolve your company culture, look for those employees who would make good peer leaders.

Problems are a good sign

Maybe your culture isn’t the greatest, or maybe your team is stretched thin. When employees get tired, or disgruntled, or suffer some kind of setback, the drop in morale can lead to a short-term drop in engagement among your people. But even when the chips are down, a strong company culture endures, meaning your employees will continue to act in the same goal-oriented way.

Why?

Taiichi Ohno, former Executive Vice President of Toyota, the world’s largest producer of automobiles, used to have a saying. “Having no problems is the biggest problem of all.” Because for Ohno, problems were actually opportunities to improve. Without problems, there’d be no improvement.

And whenever a problem arose, Ohno used a simple tactic to solve it. “Ask why five times,” Get to the root of the problem. “The root cause of any problem,” he knew, “is the key to a lasting solution.”

While the example Toyota uses has to do with manufacturing equipment, the strategy of asking why can be applied to any issue. Author Charles Duhigg couldn’t understand why his family of four could never seem to figure out how to have dinner together. After learning of Ohno’s “Five Why’s” he began asking questions, working backward until he realized that his family’s dinners were always sabotaged (albeit unintentionally) because his children took too long getting dressed in the morning.

Yes, that’s right. It turned out that if the kids got dressed quicker in the morning, the family would be able to have dinner together at night. This surprising, almost unbelievable connection would never have been discovered if it weren’t for the inadvertent advice of a former executive vice president of a Japanese car company!

So if you can’t understand why so many of your jobs take longer than estimated, or why your guys have a habit of running out of boxes during a pack job, or why no one ever cleans the trash out of the trucks, start asking why over and over. Trace it back. The answer may surprise you. What’s more, by solving these problems you’ll be taking steps toward a stronger, more stable company culture.

The finishing touches on your culture

But the biggest why has nothing to do with any one problem or issue. Rather, it has to do with the very existence – and the true future – of the business you are building.

 In his talk on business success, speaker Simon Sinek makes it clear that no matter what kind of company you run, the truth is unchanging.

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

This goes for your customers, sure. But it also goes for your employees.

Find your why, and you’ll find the foundation for your company culture, your employees’ engagement, and your ultimate success.

How to Make the Jump From Rookie Mover to True Professional

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Anyone who has ever started a business knows one thing for sure: customers don’t come pouring in just because you’ve opened your doors. But new businesses sometimes learn something else… the few customers who do come in can be their biggest source of growth.

The folks at Black Tie Moving have lived this – 1,180% growth over the last three years. How have they managed such enviable numbers? In this Forbes piece, they explain, giving seven steps to a level of customer service that, in the long run, can trump any marketing plan.

The key, of course, is putting them into practice every day. With that in mind, we provide some real-life context for some of the points Black Tie makes in the Forbes article.

(more…)

How to Hire the Best Employees

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Though we haven’t quite worked off all those Christmas cookie calories yet and the calendar on the wall shows us March is in full swing, we are only a couple of pages away from the start of the busy summer season! That’s right. Soon the phones will start heating up, our docket will start filling up and we’ll be scrambling for good people to cover all those jobs.

Or will we?

We all want that confident feeling of sending a great crew out on every job – a crew made up of guys who are (a) great movers and (b) great people. The interesting thing is, we can train someone to be a great mover. We can’t train someone to be a great person.

In this month’s Main Feature we take a look at finding and hiring the kinds of people we want on the job – and in our organization.

Mini Table of Contents

  1. The Importance of Hiring Good People
  2. How to Find Good People
  3. Knowing What Potential Employees Want
  4. How To Make a Good Job Description
  5. How to Make an Effective Job Application
  6. The Interview: Before, During, and After
  7. A Few Final Words

1. The importance of hiring good people

Hiring good people goes way beyond building a crew of good movers. Hiring good people means creating an environment where everyone adds to the overall positive energy of the workplace. We all know what it’s like working alongside that guy who shuffles around complaining about everyone and everything, right? As the minutes and the hours pass we can literally feel our energy being sucked away. But when we go out on a job with that guy who is always upbeat, always positive, always encouraging everyone and helping get every part of the job done? We start feeling like world conquerors. And the next day we hope we get to go out with that guy again.

There’s no magic and no coincidence here. And it’s probably no surprise to any of us either. But it is something to keep in mind when we are looking for new guys to join our team. We don’t just want strong guys or experienced guys. We want good guys.

So what, exactly, is a good guy? A nice, honest, reliable person who will do his job without complaining? Well yeah, those are all good traits. But we’re looking for more.

“The good people you’re looking for are positive, happy people,” says Leon Logothetis. “They are people that will inspire you to be a better person, provide you with motivation to achieve your goals, empower you to make the changes you need to succeed and cheer on your success. In the workplace, good people tend to be productive people. They’re organized, create schedules they stick to and don’t get easily distracted from the end goal. And all this help you be more productive.”

These are the guys who help turn us all into conquerors. The thing is, how do we find them?

2. Like Attracts Like

Stanford management professor Bob Sutton tells us that we are the ones responsible for bringing good people into our organization, largely through the kinds of people we show ourselves to be. We ourselves need to be good guys, but we also need to act like leaders. We need to “know how to project power… since those you lead need to believe you have it for it to be effective.” A leader (and that’s what you as a boss needs to be) sets the tone of the workplace through the attitude he holds and the confidence he projects. At the same time, we need to create loyalty within the ranks.

Great. How do we do all that?

Simple: by setting an example for our crew to follow. Sutton explains that employees will “monitor, magnify, and often mimic their (boss’s) moves.” Think back to your previous boss or bosses; what were they like, and how did everyone respond? On a broader scale, think of someone who turns heads just by walking into the room. What kind of person can do that?

While Sutton talks mainly about CEOs, the same applies to all of us. In any industry, he says, “the best bosses work doggedly to stay in tune with this relentless attention (to how their people view them) and use it to their advantage… They know that the success of their people and organizations depends on maintaining an accurate view of how others construe their moods and moves—and responding with rapid, effective adjustments.”

In plain English, bosses and leaders need to pay attention to their behavior, and their people’s reaction to their behavior, if they want to build employee loyalty and workplace positivity. I see the same dynamic in action as a father but let’s stick to the workplace for now.

Setting the example in the workplace is not only huge in creating a positive atmosphere for those already in your organization, it shows anyone who walks in your door what your company is all about. This includes potential new hires. The good guys who walk through your door are likely to walk right back out if they don’t see any other good guys around.

Got your good guy thing going on? Got yourself surrounded by more good people? Great! Now let’s go find those new good guys.

3. Knowing What Good People Want

Our friends over at Glass Magazine offer us three tips for “finding, recruiting and keeping great people.” These folks deal with issues similar to those in our industry. One, a cyclical (seasonal) pattern of busy and slow times that limit opportunities for on-the-job training. Two, physical demands of the work resulting in a high rate of attrition (or burnout). These guys, then, are worth listening to.

#1. Understand who you are hiring. Millennials, who make up the 18-34-year-old sector of the workforce, “tend to seek jobs that fit their lifestyle: flexible work hours or remote work, a good culture fit, eco-conscious and charitable companies, and meaningful work. (They want) team-oriented work environments that offer professional development/ training, recognition and frequent feedback.”

Read that again, and you can almost see our company and our crews in action. True, not everyone wants to haul furniture and boxes every day. And hey, not everyone can. But being part of a team, working with a charitable company, receiving training, recognition and feedback; these are all things that we can readily offer if we don’t already. And that part about a good culture fit? That goes back to creating a positive workplace, doesn’t it!

#2. Know what employees value. In short: appreciation, inclusion, opportunity and respect. To be more specific, these are the things the good guys are looking for in a workplace. Not just in a job, but in a workplace. Sure, interesting and meaningful work is also part of any good package. But the bigger picture of being appreciated and valued as part of a team is not to be ignored.

We’ve all experienced working in the height of the hectic summer (and that includes yours truly). We know that sometimes we just need a couple extra pairs of hands to help get us through the day. But some of those extra pairs of hands turn out to be pretty darn helpful, and it would be a shame to lose them as soon as the workload starts to drop off. Sit them down and tell them you see their good attitude, you recognize their skills and you want to give them the opportunity to do more within the organization. Even if you can only do it on a part-time basis at first, the reality of seeing this gig moving furniture turning into something more – and with a pretty cool company – might help you keep that good new guy around until things pick up again.

#3. Use proven recruiting techniques. All right, we’re not sure about $100 cash vouchers (too expensive) or putting flyers on windshields (too random). We are sure about targeting the kinds of people we are looking for – physically fit, motivated, outgoing types that we might find in places like gyms and health clubs, high schools and local colleges, job fairs and staffing agencies and town recreation leagues. Putting your name and your ‘We’re Looking for a Few Good Men’ signs and flyers in front of these people will likely bring you more of those good potential candidates you crave.

This last point leads us to a crucial step in finding those good guys: knowing what kind of guys we want and then letting the rest of the world know through the next step in our hiring process.

4. The Making of a Good Job Description

Entrepreneur Magazine is speaking to all of us when they say:

“Outline exactly what the company is looking for in a new hire
and include that in the initial job description.”

What are you looking for in your next good guy? Energy. Positive attitude. Communication skills. Clean driving record. Start writing it all down. The list can go on and on but that’s all right, just let your ideas of the ideal good guy flow. We’ll clean it up later.

Now that we’ve got our good guy looking like a super hero let’s get his attention. As ZippyApp tells us:

“job descriptions are a vital piece in your recruitment marketing strategy,
since they give the first impression of your company
and is what connects you with a candidate.”

To help us along they hook us up with their 4 Tips to Lean and Mean Job Descriptions.

    1. Think of a job title as a story headline. Catch people’s eyes with something more creative than just ‘Mover Wanted’. Include incentives like guaranteed hours or time-based raises. Add a word or two that describe the job specifics. To take ZippyApp’s example and tailor it to our industry, we might say something like: “Full-time Mover (with possible promotion to Crew Leader) – Joe’s Moving, Oceanside”

As an exercise, go to Craigslist or Indeed and plow through the job announcements for movers. Take note of which ones catch your eye. What do they have that the others don’t?

    1. Cut out any filler words. There will be plenty of time to explain all the on-the-job details in the interview. For now, laying out the basic requirements should suffice. Again, catch people’s interest with a little creativity – a break from the norm in a job description translates into a different kind of company, at least in the person’s mind. Example: Instead of the overused ‘Must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds’ try something like ‘Willing and able to handle heavy and fragile items with agility and care.’

But back to the first point. Avoid making the job sound like, as ZippyApp puts it, “a prison sentence”. Listing every possible task that may come up on a job can be intimidating, to someone who has never worked for a moving company before and might not have any idea what all these things even mean. Besides, looking for a job can be bad enough, there’s no advantage to making anyone read a short novel on what the job entails.

    1. Include any job requirements. This may sound contradictory to the previous point but here we are talking about the things you consider to be necessary skills, certifications or experience. Your good guy doesn’t need to know how to shrink wrap a sofa or strap a baby grand to a piano board, but if he needs to have a driver’s license and be able to work Saturdays he needs to know this up front.

One other bit of info that we need to make clear in the job description is our location. Houston is not very helpful. 550 Main Street, Houston gives the potential applicant an idea of how far they have to go just to get to work. And if it’s too far, it’s better they know this before they apply instead of finding out later.

  1. Be specific about the job benefits and salaries. “Candidates love to be incentivized,” ZippyApp says. So whether it’s health insurance, CDL training or that potential promotion to crew leader, make it clear these things are part of the package. As far as providing info on pay: “If you don’t want to post your salaries, or if salary depends on the candidate’s experience, providing a salary range is better than not putting anything about what can be expected.”

To use the idea of that possible promotion again, consider adding something about what kind of pay increase such a promotion would carry. This is exactly the sort of thing that a motivated applicant would find attractive. Remember, we take care of our people. We want everyone to know this.

Entrepreneur urges to be transparent in describing any offered position. It’s best if not crucial to give the potential applicant a clear view of the job from the job description.

“Sugar-coating a challenging position may help fill the position now,
but it will likely cause turnover later.
Filling the same position twice is far more time-consuming and expensive
than finding the right person to begin with.”

Being clear on the kind of person we want will help us find those good guys the first time around.

5. Job Applications: Friction & Efficiency

The job application serves a dual purpose. Obviously it is a record of all the applicant’s basic and pertinent personal information. But, if administered with a little thought, your application can also provide a glimpse into what kind of person exists behind all that info.

Hiring Monster talks about “friction” in the job application process. While some sources of friction – a ridiculously long application or strange, unorthodox questions for example – will turn a good applicant away, a certain type and amount of friction is a positive thing. As Monster explains:

“Good points of friction are those that present a reasonable and valid hurdle that helps assess whether the applicant is a good fit for the job and the company. Examples include an efficient job application, reference-checking and interview process and job skills tests.”

An efficient application. This means functioning with the least amount of wasted time and effort, but it also means producing an effect. Here are a few ideas for achieving both.

  • Name / Address / Phone Number That’s enough. Go ahead and ask for both home and cell numbers, email addresses, present and permanent addresses and emergency contact information if you want but is any of that really necessary at this stage of the game?
  • Social Security Number Skip it. Instead have the applicant check Yes or No for ‘Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?’
  • Position Desired Another common application phrase but this tends to pigeonhole the applicant in both their and your eyes. Alternative: categorize positions – ‘On Site, Warehouse, Sales, Office Staff etc.’ – and have the applicant check one. Adding boxes for Full-Time or Part-Time might help, but doing so gives the impression you are hiring part-timers. If you are, okay. If not, asking ‘Are you available to work full-time?’ might be more appropriate.
  • Salary desired This question is for a different world of employment unless you plan on negotiating the person’s hourly wage. Skip it. You’ve already decided what you will pay your people.
  • Employment History Time and again I’ve seen companies ask for a person’s jobs for the last five years. This invites all kinds of useless information and amounts to a waste of everyone’s time. Instead how about asking for ‘Work experience involving teamwork, transportation, physical labor or working outdoors’ – or some variation of these. Asking the applicant to then explain that experience will provide you with a much better idea of the applicant’s skills related to the job in question while also giving you an idea of how well they can express themselves on paper – which is one of those things that won’t make or break a person’s ability to do the job but offers a peek at their personality nonetheless. If you are hiring office staff or salespeople or warehouse help in addition to movers, include something like, ‘Work experience related to desired position.’

BUT…

There’s a chance the applicant will have no experience related to the job you are looking to fill. And that applicant might be exactly the good guy you are looking for.

SO…

  • Professional References will play a significant part in the application, as an opportunity for you to find out what a good guy the applicant is and, of course, as a means for you to perform your due diligence in screening every applicant you are interested in, regardless of their work history. Be sure to ask for two if not three, along with a brief explanation of the jobs performed for those references (once again getting a glimpse at the applicant’s habits of self-expression).
  • Education Simple. Box chart with ‘Name / Town or City / Year Graduated’ for High School / College / Trade School / Other. I’ve seen applications ask for addresses for schools. Phone numbers for schools. Seriously, who knows the phone number to their high school?

Additional questions that are easy to answer while providing important information:

  • Are you at least 18 years of age?
  • Can you work weekends/Saturdays?
  • Do you have a valid driver’s license? If so, have you been convicted of any moving offenses in the past X years? Please explain: _____________________.
  • Have you been convicted of a crime in the last X years? If yes, please explain: __________.

At the bottom, you might consider inviting your applicant to add any additional information about themselves that they believe would be relevant to their application and provide a blank space or a few lines for them to do so. The applicant leaving this part blank shouldn’t be taken as a positive or negative, but if they do write something it could help give you some insight into their personality and motivations.

Important!! There are certain questions, and certain kinds of questions, that are prohibited by law in the course of the application process. The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for most companies to ask “Is there any health-related reason you may not be able to perform the job for which you are applying?” on an application or even in an interview. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it unlawful for an employer to use phrases like “college students” or “recent graduates” in their job announcements and advertisements. Likewise, asking for an applicant’s age or date of birth on an application could potentially be seen as a form of discrimination – hence the question ‘Are you at least 18 years of age?’ Check out the policies/practices outlined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in this piece on Labor & Employment Law

If you find you are not getting all the information you want from your applicants solely from their applications, that’s all right. Asking about their previous jobs at the beginning of an interview provides an easy ice-breaker and allows both sides to ease into a conversational rapport – assuming one is coming.

Note: Here too, it is critical to stick to questions that are relevant to finding out if the applicant is suited for the job he is applying for. ‘What were your main duties at your last job?’ is appropriate. ‘How often did you miss work due to illness?’ is definitely not. We’ll go over more on the interview process below.

6. The Interview: Before, During & After

Interviewing a New Employee

Before

In their HR Toolkit, hrcouncil.ca suggest telling or reminding applicants when we call to set up interviews what the hourly pay for the job is. “Then ask them if they would like to proceed to an interview,” we are told, to “avoid interviewing people who later refuse a job offer on the basis of salary.” In addition, we can mention or reiterate the days and hours the job requires and, of course, where we are located. Better to turn them off over the phone than waste time setting up an interview that will lead nowhere.

When nailing down a time for an interview, avoid asking the applicant when they can come in. You are a busy person running a busy business, you can’t have job applicants determining your schedule. Figure out a couple of times you expect to be available and give the applicant a choice. By doing this, you are getting the applicant to commit to coming in. Tell them to come in whenever they can and you may never see them.

Of course it sometimes (usually?) happens that just as we are ready to get an interview underway the phone rings or a customer walks in and we have to tell your interviewee to wait. Good guys will have no problem with this. Offer them a place they can wait – preferably a place where they can have a seat – and let them know you’ll be with them shortly. THEN…use this opportunity to get a glimpse of your candidate outside the interview. Ask one of your staff or one of your good guys to poke their head in and say hi to the now-waiting applicant. Get them to engage in a little small talk. This may help you find out more about what they are like outside of an interview.

During

With the interview about to begin, we presume you’ve gone over your applicant’s information. You know what experience they do or don’t have. You know where they went to high school and if they went to college. You’ve read about the duties and requirements of their previous jobs. You can see how neat or messy their handwriting is.

Now forget about all of it.

Not completely, of course. This information is what you will base a good portion of your interview on. But by the same token, there is a reason for conducting an interview after acquiring all the basic info.

We’re not hiring info. We’re hiring good guys.

There’s a widely-accepted truth about hiring people: You can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude.

On paper, Joe might look like a better candidate than Bob. But then Joe walks in and plops himself down and starts running off at the mouth about how good a mover he is with all his experience and how crappy the movers at his previous company were. An hour later Bob sits up, looks you straight in the eye and tells you that while he has never worked as a mover before he has had a few jobs that required both physical labor and interpersonal communication and is particularly interested in that bit about possibly being promoted to crew leader at some point, after he learns the ropes.

When can you start, Bob?

In Workopolis’s “Why You Should Hire the Unskilled, Unemployed Candidate” we are told that even in the white collar world there are plenty of people – 73% according to one recent report – doing jobs unrelated to their studies. So how much importance should we be placing on education when we are looking for our few good guys? While a certain level of education can be a good barometer of one’s aptitude to learn and willingness to be trained and be professional, it is certainly not the litmus test. Go ahead and ask your applicant to tell you about his schooling, but any answer you get would tell you more about the applicant as a person than as a student – which is exactly why we conduct interviews.

Long periods of unemployment can also be a misleading factor in evaluating a candidate. As the same Workopolis piece explains: “People may be out of work for any number of reasons that have no relation to their potential job performance – family obligations, special projects, illness, or maybe just the fact that nobody will hire them because they are out of work.” Furthermore, “consider how grateful a new hire who has been out of work for a long time will be. That person will work harder and be more loyal than someone who didn’t really need the job. Take another look at the unemployed candidate. There’s a very good chance that person will turn out to be the best hire you ever make.”

Turn your attention away from the hard facts of experience and education and look more at “soft skills” like interpersonal and communication skills, the ability to think through a problem, process information and exhibit emotional intelligence. On the job, these things matter. The following will help us get a good look at the soft skills the person sitting across from us possesses.

Interview Questions should, like the job application, be efficient. We don’t want to come across as robotic but we do want to give the candidate the opportunity to do most of the speaking on topics that relate to the job. Career One Stop lays out a few pointers for preparing effective questions and offers a few example questions which we will tailor to the needs of our particular industry.

“I see that you organized a team project at company X. Tell me more about that experience, including challenges you faced and how you overcame them.”

“The person we hire will need strong communication skills. Give me some examples of when you had to use your communication skills to get something accomplished.”

“We need a team player who can also assume a leadership role from time to time. Talk a bit about times you’ve had to assume the role of leader. How did it go?”

Questions like these relate to the applicant’s work experience and can give us plenty of insight into the kind of person we are looking at. We might choose to use less formal language but maintaining this sort of line of questioning keeps both sides on track, giving us a decent idea of how good our guy is in a short amount of time.

The good folks up at the Ontario Human Rights Commission provide us with another good question we can use – along with an idea that may protect us legally. (Yes, we know, Ontario is in Canada, but if they’ve got laws on this you can bet the United States of Litigation does too.)

To cover ourselves against charges of discrimination in the hiring process we should do our absolute best to follow the same line of questioning for every applicant. This means avoiding questions like How would you deal with racial slurs by a customer? “Instead,” the OHRC advises, “ask all candidates how they would deal with difficult clients or challenging customers.” (Even without any legal considerations we think this is a much better question.)

And Finally…

Give the applicant an opportunity to ask questions. This is our best chance to really see how good our guy might be, opening up the conversation to the topics of our applicant’s choosing. When this final part of the interview is over be sure to thank the applicant for coming in and tell them you should be making a decision shortly (or as soon as possible, or once you’ve interviewed all the candidates – a phrase that does not stick you with a specific time frame).

After

Evaluate the candidate. We hope that during the interview you are taking note of the applicant’s appearance and demeanor. Once the applicant is gone – and you have a few moments – go down a checklist of points, good and bad, about the person. Here is a list of 10 Questions to ask yourself regarding the applicant. Answering these may help put each candidate – if you are interviewing several – into a useful relative light.

Talk to others who had interaction with the applicant. The staff worker or the crew guy who poked his head in to say hi might have some input as to the person’s personality in a more natural, spontaneous setting. He may have been all smiles and politeness in the interview but totally different outside those doors. Granted, he may have been nervous, or he simply may be a quiet person – so consider this input as just one of many factors in your overall assessment of the person.

Call their references! Not only are references an extremely helpful source of input for evaluation, but they may be necessary should any legal developments arise. In this piece on Labor & Employment, we are warned of ‘Negligent Hiring’, explained by Attorney Donald Burke. “Employers who know, or who with reasonable diligence should have known, that their employees are incompetent or dangerous are potentially liable for injuries those employees cause to third parties.” In other words, if you hire an individual who, in the course of his previous employment, has proven himself or even shown signs of being a danger to others and you did not know this because you didn’t check his references, you could be held partially liable if something happens. Chances may be slim, but even aside from the possibility of these legal ramifications, you simply don’t want to hire a bad guy. Checking an applicant’s references can help guard against exactly this.

On a more practical, everyday level, these tips on performing reference checks might come in handy for getting the most out of those 5-minute phone calls.

Use social media to your advantage. Business News Daily suggests we “make it a point to do a background check (including at least a quick Google search on the candidate’s name) to see what comes up about that person online. But if you’re not looking through the candidate’s social media profiles, you could be missing a key way to find out more about the individual as a person and an employee…Because how that person behaves on social media is a good indication of what kind of person the individual is and how your prospect might fit into your company’s culture.” Some may call this snooping. We prefer to call it completing the interview.

7. A Few Final Words

Clearly, getting good guys in the door and onto our team requires thought and planning. Employment Solutions tells us in no uncertain terms: “Don’t be reactive.” We aren’t just collecting warm bodies to put on a truck. We are building a quality team. As such it is imperative that we “plan for organizational needs, anticipate attrition, develop bench strength in critical areas, and strengthen relationships with staffing partners.”

Yes, it is only March. But it is not too early to start getting those good guys in the door. The most ambitious and forward-thinking people are already poking around for summer work. As much as your own schedule and plans allow, why not try to get a couple new guys on board with some part-time on-the-job training? You’ll be building their skills and confidence while showing them you are interested in them enough to invest in their development so when the summer crush hits you can all hit the ground running.

We are building a business. We are building a team of people. So think of it this way:

We’re not just trying to make it through the busy season, we’re trying to turn this into a busy business. (Tweet this)

Hire guys you’ll want to keep – and treat them as though they’ll be staying.

Your good guys – both old and new – will appreciate it.

As will your customers.

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