Safe & No Sound: How and Why to Pack Household Batteries Correctly

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So you’re packing up someone’s kitchen and you reach for the wall clock. First thing you notice is how long the pack job is taking. (Time flies when you’re having fun, right?) But then as you take that clock off the wall you hear it ticking softly and you think “Oh. Battery.”

And it’s not just the clock in the kitchen. So many things in a house that take batteries. Most of these items aren’t running – the flashlights, the handheld games, the remote controls for the TV, the toys and that drone that’s mostly illegal – so you won’t be draining their batteries if you leave them in. Unless of course a switch gets flipped or a button gets pressed in that carton packed full of stuff and something ends up turned on for the duration of the move. (I’ve had plenty of situations, including packing my own kids’ stuff, where something in a box starts making all sorts of noise and I have to dig the culprit out and shut it off and repack it.)

When you see batteries while packing

But what to do with the battery in that clock, and the batteries in all the other items you don’t want running while they’re all packed up? 

Take out the batteries and put them back in backwards. From a convenience, as well as a loss-prevention standpoint, this makes sense. But there are those who say this is not a good idea. These people usually use a lot of terms and offer explanations that are entirely Greek to most of us, so to be on the safe side for a move longer than a couple hours, we might want to just skip to our second option.

Yes, take out the batteries and pack them separately. Which doesn’t necessarily mean in a separate box, just separate from the items they came out of. Wrap them in paper, tape up the bundles and mark them well so they don’t get thrown in the trash or the recycling bin with the rest of the packing paper. Tape them directly onto the items they came from if need be. (Taping unwrapped batteries directly to unwrapped clocks and drones is a practice best avoided.)

What about spare batteries lying around?

That takes care of all the batteries being used. Now, what about the batteries not being used? You know, all the used ones half buried in a junk drawer. Can we just dump them in a box with all the other stuff in that drawer?

Yes we can. But no we shouldn’t.

Because those batteries – those little packs of stored energy – constitute a fire hazard. It’s true. They may look completely harmless lying dead in that drawer, not hooked up to anything. But under the right (see: wrong) conditions, bad things can happen.

Specifically, mixing those batteries with small metal items like paper clips or spare keys and a random scrap of paper or two spells trouble. Those rectangular 9-Volt batteries with the positive and negative terminals sticking out of the top are of particular concern. Don’t believe it? Check out this video news piece to see how easy it is for a fire to ignite where there’s nothing but a battery, some metal and a piece of paper.

At the tail end of the piece, we’re told that “it’s only 9-volt batteries that have this problem”. Tell that to the victims of this fire, started in the console of their SUV by the combination of a few AA batteries, a couple of DVDs and some random bits of paper. “You confine (these things) in a drawer or put it in a paper sack and confine it, it will build up enough heat that it can’t dissipate out into the air,” says Fire Captain Ken Bailey. “Eventually it will reach 451 degrees, which is the ignition temperature of paper.”

Yep, just in a drawer or a paper sack. Or a cardboard moving box.

Preventing the possibility of igniting a fire is simple: Pack any and all loose batteries separate from anything metallic. Wrap them in plenty of paper, taped side by side or sealed in a plastic bag if you really want to go that extra mile.

To be quite honest, with all the millions of loose batteries lying in all the millions of junk drawers in this country and only a couple of fires on record (that we know of), the chances of those loose batteries actually starting a fire can seem pretty slim.

But then again, why take chances?

A Trash Bag Is by Far the Most Useful Movehack Item. Here’s Why

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When you’re in the midst of a move, you may find yourself running to the store every other day to pick up supplies. It may seem like you can never have enough boxes, tape and packing paper, but there is another item you should add to your essentials list… trash bags!

This versatile item can be used in so many ways to help you move. Let’s review all of these trash bag hacks.

They’re Essential for Hanging Clothes

Instead of purchasing wardrobe boxes for your move, we suggest keeping your clothes on their hangers and protecting them with trash bags. All you have to do is take a stack of clothes off the rack and bring a trash bag from the bottom of the clothing up towards the hanger. Then, use the drawstring on your trash bag and tie it tight around the hanger. This will ensure that the bag doesn’t come off during transport. It’s the perfect garment bag hack! Bonus…buy those scented trash bags so your clothes smell fresh when you get to your new home!

Make a Simple Donation Section

Trash bags make it super easy to corral and easily identify all of the items you’re planning to donate. This is especially helpful when it comes time to clean out that stuffed wardrobe of yours! We suggest that you keep a trash bag in your closet in the months leading up to your move.  As you try on items that you no longer love, toss them into the this conveniently located trash bag. Little by little, the bags in your closets will start to fill up with donation items, and you won’t have to spend an entire weekend purging out your closets! Trust us, you won’t want to move any other way.

Trust us, you won’t want to move any other way.

Transport Your Plants Without the Mess

Plants are a tricky one to move because no one wants dirt all over their vehicle – so grab that handy dandy trash bag of yours and place the bottom of the plant inside. This ensures that the dirt doesn’t get all over and you can easily move your greenery to your new space. If you can though, keep the top of your plant out so it still gets lots of fresh air!

Wrap Unusual Objects Easily

When packing, you’re bound to run into items that will make you scratch your head and say, “How the heck do I pack that up?!” (Lamp shades are one of them.) How can you make sure your shade doesn’t get dirty and gross on its ride to your new pad? Well, use a trash bag to cover those unusual objects and keep them safe!

If It’s Anything Other Than Sunny, You’ll Need a Ton of Them

If you’re worried about special items getting wet during your move, we suggest using a trash bag inside your cardboard box. Simply put your precious items in a trash bag (books, papers, throw pillows, etc) and then put that bag inside the box! That way it’s got double protection from the elements.

And You Can Throw Your Away Trash (Duh!)

Okay, of course, you’ll need trash bags for trash. And you’ll probably have a lot more than usual when you’re packing up your home to move. Stock up on a lot of garbage bags and you’ll be set for this, and everything else on this list for the duration of your move.

It’s official: you need to head to your nearest Costco before your move and find the largest roll of trash bags you can find. Trust us!

How-To Guide for Getting the Best Rental Truck For You

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You’ve spent weeks packing up. You’ve spent days cleaning your bathroom and your floors. You’ve spent hours tying up loose ends and your last few spare minutes posting about how crazy your move is making you. Now all you have to do is rent a truck.

A truck! Crap, I forgot!

If you planned well ahead and reserved your truck, you’re part of an admirable, enviable minority. If you’re moving tomorrow and haven’t started comparing rental trucks for moving? May the gods of the move be with you. (But seriously, we”re here to help.) Deciding what size truck to get to searching for a decent deal, renting a truck blindly can be as bumpy as driving one, so here are some key areas to focus on for smoothing things out.

Properly Measure How Much You Need to Move by Trying This

For most people, it’s hard to believe how much stuff they really have. It’s even harder trying to figure out how big a truck they’ll need. If you’ve rented a truck before, your experience will be invaluable, but if this is your first time, don’t underestimate how bulky your world has become!

Not a blind endorsement for Penske, but it’s a valuable tool

General packing guidelines, based off a typical move

Penske’s online “Truck Wizard can help determine what size truck you’ll need. Inputting items like furniture and appliances is easy. But estimating how many boxes of varying sizes you’ll have is tough if you haven’t already packed up. As an experiment, I tried it out using my own place. At first, I couldn’t believe I’d need that big a truck. But the next size down ended up being too small. 

Finding out halfway through your move that your stuff won’t fit in your truck is a nightmare you don’t want to live through. So when estimating how much stuff you have, be over the top thorough. And don’t forget all that stuff in the closets and the garage!

Pick Your Move Day Wisely to Get a Good Deal

Do you have any flexibility at all in scheduling your move day? If so, take advantage. When trying to rent a truck, moving on a weekday in the middle of the month versus moving on the last or first day of the month is the difference between heaven or hell.

If your flexibility is limited and you find yourself running into roadblocks trying to nail down that rental, try a few of these tricks:

  • Rent round trip if possible. Dealers need to keep their inventory of trucks in places that are busiest. Otherwise, they have to move the trucks around themselves. Got a car? Leave it behind, make your move, then return your rental and drive your car to your new home. (Or have a friend follow you in your car.) They can help you unload and drive the rental back. (Check with your rental company’s policy on this.)
  • Try a dealer somewhere out of town. The smaller dealers out in the boonies might have trucks hanging around while their colleagues in the city are scrambling.
  • If your move is local, consider making two trips in a smaller truck.
  • If you’re moving long distance, try drop-off points that may not be in your new town. For example, if you’re moving to Eugene, OR, look for a deal that involves dropping your truck off in Portland. Again, inventory logistics can drive a rental company’s truck availability, not to mention the price. You might even ask where they need trucks and try to figure out a deal. Even with the extra day or the cost of getting back to Eugene, you may still come out ahead.
  • As implied in that previous point, it pays off to physically call all the rental companies. Speak to people. Ask about possibilities that don’t show up online. Be friendly. Be inquisitive. Be persistent.

Dealing with Price Differences

The quotes you get from the various truck rental companies out there can vary significantly. Put as simply as possible, there are three main reasons for this:

  • The quality of trucks available that day
  • The quality of customer service
  • Hidden charges

Ultimately, because prices depend so much on where you personally live and who else is moving that specific day, it’s impossible to flat-out say which company has the best deal every single time. However, you can find all sorts of information on truck rental companies online. 

Moving101 is an exhaustive resource with as much information about every moving truck company under the sun, including dimensions, tons of real, up-to-the-day reviews, and a ton more.

moving101.hireahelper.com/

In addition, here’s one fairly comprehensive forum thread that may be of interest that discusses a few tips and warnings that may also be useful. Keep all of these resources in mind, as your personal (and figurative) mileage is subject to local quirks.

Some (Not So Obvious) Protips

  • If you’re worried about insurance on your rental truck… good! It’s not likely that your credit card or your personal car insurance will cover you in the case of an accident. Thus, you’ll want to know exactly what you’d be facing in case of a mishap and what kind of insurance is available to avoid a financial disaster. Rental companies will offer various types of insurance, and sometimes at different levels. Here’s a good rundown by ValuePenguin on the wonderful world of rental truck insurance terms.
  • If you’re worried that the truck you reserved won’t be there waiting for you, you’re not crazy. It happens (maybe with some companies more than others). Trucks break down, people return them late and some trucks just seem to vanish. To increase your chances of getting the truck you reserved, one idea is to get to the rental place early. Another idea: if for whatever reason you are super-concerned you won’t get the best one, arrange to pick up your truck in the evening after people have already (presumably) begun dropping them all off.
  • If you are booking your rental online, HireAHelper does offer discounts on Penske and Budget
  • If you are in a real pinch and you don’t have all that much stuff, think about renting a trailer from Uhaul instead of a truck (from anyone). Even if you have to pay to have a trailer hitch installed on your vehicle, the money you save renting a trailer instead of a truck will in all likelihood more than cover the cost. Plus trailers don’t break down nearly as often as trucks. Just make sure there’s a spare tire!

Price, quality and customer service. Insurance, truck size and availability. It’s a difficult road to navigate – we know – but with knowledge, persistence and a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be well-equipped to handle this last, important piece of your moving puzzle.

Here’s How You Should Hydrate While Summer Moving (and What Happens If You Don’t)

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Does the thought of a do-it-yourself move make you break out in a cold sweat? If so, good! You’ll want to get used to the feeling.

Especially with the mercury on the rise, you can bet on working up a good sweat hauling all your boxes and furniture out your door and into the summer sun. But don’t run out and stock up on Gatorade just yet!

We need to play doctor first.

Dehydration Happens Fast, and It Erodes Your Work Capacity

You might find yourself getting into a nice groove, moving all your stuff out and onto your truck like a pro. But don’t put off that water break. Here’s why: A loss of just 1% to 2% of body weight (in sweat) begins to compromise cardiovascular, body temperature regulation and muscular function, potentially leading to decreases in aerobic power. Heart rate rises an additional three to five beats per minute for every 1% of body weight loss. Okay, so what does that mean for moving?

This means for a 175-pound person, a loss of just 1.75 pounds – less than a quart of water and sweat – can mean the beginning of the slowdown.

Muscle endurance and maximal aerobic power decrease when 3% to 4% of body weight is lost. Slightly more than 2% loss of body weight can result in as much as a 35% to 48% reduction in physical work capacity.

So for the same 175-pound mover, this 2% loss of body weight translates into a half-gallon of sweat, give or take. Sounds like a lot, but read what  this article on Hammer Nutrition tells us:On average, you lose about one liter (approx. 34 ounces) of fluid per hour of exercise. Extreme heat and humidity can raise that amount to three liters in one hour.” Yikes!

Even still, dehydration of greater than 3% of body weight increases the risk of developing exertional heat illness (heat crampsheat exhaustion, or heat stroke). Heat illness is common in sports and can occur after just one hour of intense exercise in the heat. Moving may not be a sport, but obviously it doesn’t take long to lose that weight – and feel the effects – when we’re moving furniture in 90/90 heat and humidity.

So… What’s the Best Way to Stay Hydrated?

Our friends over at competitor.com offer some input on the subject.

“Most sports drinks on the market are what sports scientists call isotonic, which means they contain a carbohydrate solution that is at 6-8% concentration. These drinks are in the middle of the spectrum in terms of absorption rate, with water being the most readily absorbed (hypotonic) and something like fruit juice, being greater than 8% sugar concentration (hypertonic) and therefore the least absorbable. Because the sugar concentration of most sports drinks is higher than that of most body fluids, they are not readily absorbed into the blood stream and are thus not optimal for the purpose of hydration.”

Michael F. Bergeron, Ph.D., FACSM also offers some hydration advice here for long workouts, which easily can be extrapolated to a typical summer day moving job. “Grab a beverage that has up to 500 mg sodium per 16 oz, and around 6 percent carbs (less than 28 g per 16 oz). Any more and your body will pull water from your blood to your gut for digestion.”

Both sources tout the idea of keeping carb intake down. Too much and the body has to work to digest them which then slows us down. No wonder it’s so hard getting back on track after wolfing down that lunchtime pizza!

Considering the high sugar content of soda (not surprising) and fruit juice (maybe surprising), we need to keep looking for that source of peak hydration (though diluted fruit juice is a recommended option by some, as we will see).

So what should you drink?

Caffeine Is a Diuretic, But…

This article from our friends Down Under suggests coffee doesn’t drain your system as much as some people think.

“If you drink coffee regularly and don’t drink too much it shouldn’t dehydrate you,” reads the claim.

“If”. “Too much”. “Shouldn’t”. There’s a lot of uncertainty in that statement. Regardless, the amount of liquid we need to gulp down during our summer move puts coffee right out of the equation. If you need that morning joe, go for it. But replacing that hourly liter or two of sweat-loss with Starbucks probably isn’t the way to go.

Coconut Water: Nature’s Gatorade?

The benefits of coconut water have been slathered all over the Internet. This article tries to destroy the hype (“The minerals found in coconut water…are widely found in other foods.”) But if we’re talking about staying properly hydrated, we see that coconut water has more sodium and less sugar than fruit juice, making it the better option.

As for a comparison to sports drinks? This WebMD article tells us coconut water has fewer calories, less sodium and more potassium than a sports drink. Prevention Magazine gives us a quick head-to-head comparison of the two, with coconut water winning handily.

Forbes, however, gives a more complete assessment:

“Although coconut water is rich in potassium, it is low in carbohydrates and sodium… When you exercise three hours or longer in the heat or adverse conditions, your body requires higher levels of simple carbohydrates and electrolytes not adequately found in coconut water. If you sweat a lot, neither coconut water nor typical sports drinks will have enough sodium, potassium or sugar to keep you from falling behind the curve. Having a sports bar, salty pretzels, a banana, raisins or some yogurt will likely give you the added electrolytes to refill your body stores.”

Good. I never could get used to the taste of that coconut water stuff.

Sports Drinks Vs. Water

Our friends at competitor.com sum up the question of when you should be drinking water versus when you should be drinking sports drinks or an electrolyte beverage. Yes, their focus is on running, but the science and the reasoning apply to us as well:

“Before and during a run, rehydration should be your main priority. When training in warm conditions, rehydration will allow you to maintain fluid balance and stay cool. Accordingly, your best choice before and during your run would be water, a heavily diluted sports beverage, or water with electrolytes. Your best choice after a workout is a drink that contains a good amount of sugars, electrolytes and possibly some protein.”

This makes sense especially in the run-up to lunch. Cutting back on those sports drink carbs by dilluting them leaves room – and energy – for our system to digest our food (okay, our pizza) without sucking our blood and our muscles completely dry. So consider pouring that half liter of Powerade into a jug of water.

Real Stamina: Advice From a Physiologist

Yes, we can carry furniture and haul boxes around all day in the blazing heat, but how does that compare to completing an ironman triathlon? We don’t know, exactly, but we figure it makes sense to listen to an ironwoman who also happens to be an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist with almost two decades working in the field.

In an interview with Outside magazine last year, Dr. Stacy Sims laid her hydrating cards on the table. Her simple and unconventional claim: “Not only are most of the sports nutrition drinks on the market not optimized for best hydration, but many of them are actually impeding athletes’ performances.”

Whoa. We’re being told to can the Gatorade?

Looks that way. Sports drinks she says “…have too high a concentration – osmolality – and they pull water out of the system making you more dehydrated.” Too high a concentration of carbs, much like what our previous sources have been implying. “Sports drinks with a carbohydrate concentration of five percent or more and with fructose or maltodextrin actually lead to dehydration,” she adds.

Her research goes deep, but she boils it down to this:

“Food in the pocket, hydration in the bottle.”

In other words, drink plenty of water. If you must suck down that juice or those sports drinks, dilute them. And EAT. Food is where we get the minerals and energy we need.

Sounds pretty simple to me.

Yet however you decide to do it, be sure to keep yourself hydrated and your cooling system running when you’re tackling your move. The alternative can be unpleasant, if not devastating.

If you’re doing your move on your own, Good luck! You might need all the help you can get.

The Fundamentals of Buying and Selling on Craigslist

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Craigslist. We used to hear that word and automatically think of seedy transactions and random items. But we’ve since come around and now use it on a regular basis to sell stuff we no longer want, as well as to find items that are one-of-a-kind for our homes!

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How to Use a Dolly Like the Pros

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Moving house without a hand truck – or a dolly – is like riding a bicycle without a seat. It’s technically possible, but honestly, who does that?

A sturdy, reliable hand truck is any mover’s best friend. Used properly, it saves you time, rescues your back and it can singlehandedly keep your stuff from getting damaged.

(Thinking of a square furniture dolly? CLICK HERE.)

But they’re not as easy to use as they look, provided you are using them in the proper way. With that in mind, here are tips compiled by moving pros as to how to optimize that hand truck you found in the back of your moving truck, or that one your friend let you borrow and you don’t want to return broken.

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Movehacks: Keeping Paper as Safe as Possible

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[Synopsis: Checking out some do’s and don’t’s for packing posters and other large paper items.]

So an unusual scenario…

I’m packing up this guy’s desk…that kind with the tall top and glass doors over the shelves. I get all his books and little picture frames and random knick-knacks packed neatly into cartons, and then I see this little tube-shaped thing on one of those shelves. It’s a piece of ancient-looking parchment rolled up and tied with a fancy red white and blue ribbon.

What am I supposed to do with this?

I placed it in one of the empty desk drawers. “Good idea”, said the customer who I didn’t know was standing behind me. “I was wondering what to do with that.”

The thing was only about eight inches long, so I could have easily found a place for it inside a box somewhere. But the contents of boxes shift in transit and that could crush something like a little roll of ancient parchment. And if the contents don’t shift that means that box is packed pretty tightly – which could also mean trouble for that ribbon-tied sheet of antiquity. I didn’t want to take any chances.

It ended up rolling around a bit in that empty drawer, but still, that seemed the safest place for it.

The More Common Scenario

paper_tubes

Customers will have all kinds of posters, maps, calendars and other random assorted wall hangings. Some may be either treasures monetary or sentimental, while others unremarkable. Either way, we want to take care of them. Here’s what to do and what to avoid.

– When rolling up any kind of paper, start with a wide circle and slowly coax it into a tighter coil. Trying to roll a poster up small-and-tight right off the bat will bend and crease it.

Roll up several posters, maps etc. together. This saves space while adding strength.

– Put sheets of packing paper between these vintage movie posters and replica maps of the Old World, whether or not the customer shows an outward concern for them. (That tattered poster of Kramer from Seinfeld, on the other hand…okay take care of that too.)

Do not apply tape to the customer’s posters and maps directly. Wrap them in packing paper – even if that packing paper doesn’t cover the entire poster – and tape that packing paper to itself.

– Resist the temptation to strand these rolled up items in a wardrobe or in cartons. That bottom end will likely end up irreversibly (though perhaps only slightly) crushed. 

So where to put them?

In drawers of course!

Empty drawers work well, since there’s nothing to put pressure on them; Rolled-up posters are free to roll around without getting hurt. Then there are the dresser drawers that will remain filled with clothes throughout the move. Posters can go in these too, as long as we make sure to either roll up several posters together (if the customer has a few), or make sure there is plenty of room on top of those clothes so the poster doesn’t get caught and crushed (and ripped and torn) when the drawer is opened or closed.

Me? I prefer going that first route, taking those posters all rolled up together in one strong tube and tucking it gently up against the front inside wall of the drawer, under just enough clothing to keep it in place. If need be, take some clothes out and stick them in another drawer.

If all this sounds a little over-the-top, just remember: it may be just a poster, but the customer is keeping it for a reason. And if they balk at the idea of putting it in a drawer there are always cardboard tubes available at almost any office supply store, self-storage facility or online shop like ULine, UHaul or Staples.

One last idea to consider…

Instead of rolling them up, keep those posters and maps flat and slip them into mirror cartons, between the picture frames and mirrors you are packing. Just use a little caution with this technique: this might work, but only if those posters and maps are no bigger than the frames that are supposed to be protecting them. Even if they fit within the dimensions of that picture frame or mirror, unless they are pressed firmly between two flat surfaces chances are good they will slip in transit.

If you want some extra visuals, I suggest checking out this short instructional video as a tutorial on getting those posters all rolled up safely and neatly and getting them into cardboard tubes.

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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