Quality Magazine

Other Dimensions: Hiring Skills and Expertise Start

September 1, 2006

I am not a human resources specialist. In fact, there are those who question if I am a human. I'll leave that debate for another time, but I do know that I suffer all the frustrations of humans when it comes to hiring staff. In fact, many business owners and department managers consistently tell me that the only job worse than hiring people is firing them.

Over the years I have learned a few things about the process. And because it is not something most folks do every day, I hope some of the following thoughts will assist you when you have to hire personnel. If you have a human resources department at your company, the job may be easier. But remember that the human resource person probably doesn't have a clue what your department does and needs. Whether you are working through a personnel specialist or directly to the market, there are simple steps that have to be taken. As you may have guessed, we start at the beginning.



WHAT DO YOU WANT?

This may seem obvious but it may not be: make a list of the skills your new hire must have. Be specific. "Must be able to use an outside micrometer" is not specific enough, but "must be able to repeat outside micrometer measurements within 0.0003 inch" is. This prevents someone who knows how to use a micrometer as a c-clamp from wasting your time. "Must be able to read technical drawings" is a handy ability but not if you want someone who understands what they mean. "Must be familiar with SPC" is vague enough to get someone who pushed the send data button all day and understands nothing else.

Okay, so maybe I'm a bit picky but you'd be surprised what can be overlooked. In Canada, students are only taught the metric system despite the fact that in our field we are currently running at about 60% or less in metric dimensioning. I had to teach a new employee all about inches and the parts thereof. This incensed me because about half of my property taxes go to fund education. On the general side, every state and province in North America has a string of things you cannot ask without someone claiming you are prejudicial in your hiring. Many of these laws are designed to encourage you to lie about what you want so everyone wastes time. Telling the truth could get the human rights police all over you so be careful here. Get a copy of the laws that prevail in your part of the world and study them carefully.

The way things are going, it won't be long before you'll be prevented from requiring employees to be at work at a regular time on a daily basis.



ADVERTISING

I avoid advertising on the Internet because it is too easy for people to do a few clicks and bury me in paper. I figure if they haven't got the time to send me a fax or drop off their resume, they are not that interested. If they've seen my advertisement in the local paper at least I know they can read-well, maybe a little bit.

Whatever medium you choose, your advertisement should be simple and direct. Tell them what the job entails, what skills, knowledge and experience they must have, all of which you take from that list I mentioned earlier.

Then tell them how wonderful your company is, and most important, how they are to reply, such as by fax, mail or e-mail.

Because applicants claim to be detail-oriented, I find it interesting to ask that they state their expected salary when replying. Those that don't even mention the subject, let alone give a figure, go to pile B, which can be a quick way to keep on top of a hundred or more replies.

In Part 2 of this subject we'll deal with creative literary works known as resumes and in Part 3 with interview and skill testing.