Hiring the Unemployed Worker

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I’ve noticed that hiring is on the rise, and that the same advantages firms face when interviewing new candidates in this economic environment also present disadvantages.

Many people are looking for work.

You need to separate the people laid-off for purely financial reasons from those laid-off for incompetency. These past two years have given some businesses opportunity (rightly or wrongly) to lay-off people who were not performing well using the guise of the economy and financial condition of the company. Some of those laid-off know they were not performing well, and others simply don’t see their poor performance issues.

How do you find out about this in the interview process?

  • If an employee candidate is not prepared for your interview – phone or face to face – move on to someone who is.
  • You will need to be prepared to probe into why a person left a company.

If the person has been saying she/he was indispensable, was on-time, was organized, etc.,  you can follow-up with this question: “I don’t understand why someone with your contributions and skills should be laid-off; help me to understand why you were laid off.”

A possible response could be: “The company was in bad financial straits so they needed to lay everyone off, including me.” Follow-up with questions to find out if the company is still in business, who is left in the business (who they are and what they do), ask why other people doing the same work are still there. Sometimes you need to do a “gut check” to see if the person can’t really answer the questions. But remember, a realistic, reasonable answer may be that their direct report supervisor or employer is unreasonable. There may be some alternative ways to find out about the employer.

Compensation packages can be priced or structured more reasonably than when there was lower unemployment.

  • Make sure that you pay new employees reasonably.
  • Find resources on compensation— consider current financial planning firm surveys. Also use local and regional information on positions. [Editor’s note: Keep an eye out for news about the FPA 2010 Financial Planning Salary Survey to be released in October.]
  • Employees may take the job on the premise that you will re-evaluate the compensation, and you need to set a date to do that. Employees may take the job because they need it, but continue to look and possibly leave you.
  • Existing employees may be able to find out what you are paying that person. Even if you inadvertently paid too low or did not follow-up on your promise to re-evaluate the compensation, your actions as a leader are noticed.

People are realizing what they may need to do to perform with excellence and appreciate job security.

Include questions in your interview that ask people to elaborate on their “game plan” (career plan) before you tell them too much about the position. Find out what the candidate wants.

Ask the candidate, “What attracted you to our advertisement for the position?” as your lead-off question in the phone screen or initial meeting. If they can’t answer it, ask them if they remember the ad. I have ended a phone meeting by simply saying, “It appears to me that you have trouble recollecting the advertisement; why don’t you spend some time looking at our advertisement on (website A, B or C) and get back to me on why you are interested in this position.”

Every meeting you have with a person is an opportunity to impress or upset the public. Make sure you leave a professional impression.

Mary Dunlap, CFP®
Mary Dunlap Consulting
Pottstown, Pa.

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