How To Hire the Talent Your Diesel Business Needs
The unemployment rate is very low. That’s good news for job seekers, but bad news for a diesel business owner looking to hire and retain top talent.
“We haven’t seen a job market like this in more than 50 years,” said Glassdoor’s chief economist Andrew Chamberlin in a webinar for employers earlier this year. 87 percent of small business owners nationwide have reported that “talent” is the top challenge affecting their business, said Vistage chief research officer Joe Galvin at a gathering of North Carolina entrepreneurs earlier this year.
Demand is particularly acute for automotive service technicians and mechanics. Baby Boomer mechanics are retiring in droves, and there simply aren’t enough younger skilled workers to replace them.
In such a tight labor market, it may be tempting to put aside advice you’ve likely heard before: “hire slow, fire fast.” But you will pay dearly if you hire someone who is a poor fit or whom you can’t develop as you grow your diesel business.
To help you pick the right people, we’ve gathered these tips from hiring and recruiting experts:
- Write out an actual job description. Yeah, we know it’s boring. That’s why business owners sometimes skip this crucial step, says recruiting expert Suzanne Rupert.
Writing a JD not only helps you advertise the job effectively, but also makes sure that the stakeholders in your business are on the same page about expectations for the position. Include in the JD not only the education, skills, and experience you’re seeking, but also the job behaviors you’re looking for. Ask yourself, “What kind of person will be most successful in this position?”
- Remember that you’re looking not only for skills, but also behaviors. You no doubt administer skills tests or have probationary periods on the job to make sure the candidate’s skills are what they say they are, but don’t overlook behavioral preferences, says Rupert. You can teach skills, but you really can’t teach behaviors, she warns. Even employees who have the emotional intelligence to stretch beyond what comes naturally will eventually become burned out if the job isn’t a good behavioral fit.
Some employers administer pre-employment behavioral assessments such as DiSC, CliftonStrengths (Gallup), Culture Index, and others. You should also ask behavioral-based questions in your interviews, which we’ll cover in an upcoming post.
Bright Idea: If you had or have several outstanding employees in positions similar to what you’re searching for, compile a behavioral profiled describing the type(s) best suited to the job, suggests Rupert.
- Think twice about any candidate who doesn’t currently have a job. With unemployment at historic lows, you want to make sure you clearly understand the backstory for anyone who’s not currently employed, says recruiter Severin Sorensen, who works with businesses around the country and who spoke to a group of entrepreneurs in central North Carolina earlier this year.
There might be a good reason for the gap, such as a layoff that was beyond the candidate’s control, some time getting trained or retrained, or time away from work to care for family. Just make sure the story that the candidate tells you about any employment gap checks out with references, Sorensen urges.
- Just because someone interviews well doesn’t mean they’ll be a good mechanic, customer service rep, bookkeeper, or whatever position you’re hiring for. Sure, you know this logically, but this brutal fact is easy to forget, especially when you’re feeling short-staffed.
Some people are really good “relators,” says Sorensen. They are so good at selling their skills and themselves during interviews that you may be tempted to rush through or skip crucial parts of your selection process. Sure, some of the skills that help people ace interviews may also help them perform certain jobs—particularly if customer service is involved. But this isn’t always the case.
If you clearly map out your interview process, you can prevent these interview aces from “hijacking” the interview, Sorensen says. Make sure you pose the same questions to every candidate you’re interviewing for a particular position. Record your impressions after each interview to help yourself maintain a clear-eyed view about how the candidates compare to one another.
- Don’t “sell” your business as an employer during the portions of the interview process that influence your hiring decisions. Yes, with the labor market so tight you must promote your diesel business as a desirable employer, but doing so at the expense of carefully assessing candidates is a bad idea. A study published in the Academy of Management Journal shows that hiring managers are less able to make good decisions when they are simultaneously charged with attracting the candidate.
If you have a mid-sized business and enough people to work on hiring, Sorensen suggests splitting the recruiting process into two teams or individuals—one focused on assessing candidates and one focused on “selling” your business as a great place to work. If your shop is too small for this kind of division of labor, at least be clear with yourself what your goals are for each stage of the hiring process. It’s important to keep a level head.
- Check the facts. Some of what you see on resumes is false, Sorensen cautions. For example, 85 percent of employers surveyed said they’ve spotted white lies (or even big lies) on applicants’ resumes, according to a 2017 report from HireRight, and 26 percent of workers under 40 admitted to fudging resume facts, according to data from Udemy. Your due diligence should go beyond the references the candidate has suggested, Sorensen says. Take the time to spot-check educational institutions, certification organizations, or prior employers, he suggests.
- Makes sure you do a reference check. This is a boring-but-important step that many businesses often skip—at their peril, Rupert cautions. If your business is big enough, have someone besides the person who has done the screening and interviewing do the reference checks, Sorensen urges. By the time you’re at the reference-checking phase, you’ve invested so much time and energy in the hiring process that you may be blind to red flags that surface during the reference check. It’s just human nature.
If you don’t have an office manager or someone with a similar background available to do reference checks, call your local SHRM office, Sorensen offers. SHRM is a well-regarded, national human resources professional organization that can suggest professional reference-checkers who freelance reference-checking gigs for small businesses, he explains