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"If workers are carefully selected, the problems of discipline will be negligible."
-Johnson & Johnson Co. Employee Relations Manual, 1932


The beginning of a powerful employer-employee relationship begins with the hiring process. Your goal must be to hire only the best! The value of placing your efforts and resources into the hiring process cannot be overstated. By definition, half of all job applicants are below average. And guess what-somebody is hiring them! What's more, many job applicants will misrepresent to you their true status, background and experience. This is true for both upper and lower entry employees.One survey reported by Inc. magazine (www.inc.com) indicates the following about job applicants:
  • 15% of all job applicants falsify academic qualifications.
  • 10% falsely upgrade their academic qualifications.
  • 35% claim specific achievements or experiences that are untrue.
  • 70% indulge in puffery (upgrading the importance of achievements).
  • 12% have some kind of criminal record, including serious automobile convictions.

A lot can go wrong when you hire the wrong employee, and remember, by employee we mean everyone from janitor to CEO.

  • Under qualified
  • Selfish
  • Resistant to change
  • Addicted
  • Prone to error
  • Violent
  • Absent, late or lazy
  • Unethical
  • Untrustworthy
  • Unhealthy


  • Create a negative work environment
  • Harass or discriminate against co-employees
  • Offend customers or vendors
  • Quit at the drop of a hat
  • Sue your company
  • Cause your company to be sued by a third Party
  • Create bad press
  • Steal company trade secrets or other Confidential information
  • Take business opportunities for his/her own
  • File for unemployment or workers Compensation

In contrast, a lot can go right when you hire the right employee.

  • Highly qualified
  • Healthy
  • Anxious to learn
  • Ethical
  • Responsible, punctual and attentive
  • Loyal
  • Trustworthy
  • Innovative
  • Focused


  • Create a positive work environment
  • Work as a team member
  • Empower co-employees
  • Act respectfully and responsibly
  • Create customer loyalty
  • Keep company trade secrets confidential
  • Work to add value and attempt
  • Create new business opportunities for the
  • advancement within the company
  • Company
  • Create profitability
  • Work in a safe and healthful manner, lowering your insurance costs

Bottom Line: Hire the best. They are worth the time, effort and expense. Hire the best-and keep them that way!


You can't have an excellent company without first having excellent people. You can't avoid legal fights if you hire problem employees in the first place. When you hire the wrong employee, you are only asking for trouble. A poor hiring decision is the source of non-productivity as well as employee lawsuits. Most poor hiring decisions are made because of the failure to follow a sound hiring process. Hiring practices alone have been the subject of many books. However, despite all we know about the hiring process and all that is contained in these materials, we will still continue to hire the wrong people for some very human nature related reasons. These reasons include desperation, laziness, infatuation, baggage, and recommendations.

Because we may be desperate for an employee now, we fail to follow a sound hiring process. For example, your secretary quit yesterday, so you hired the first person that said they knew how to type. No test, no sample projects, just blind faith, motivated by a feeling of desperation. Or, your company is growing so fast that you just bring the bodies in and figure out how to manage them later. When we hire out of desperation we very often find ourselves getting into a relationship that made no sense from the start. This happens in our personal lives as well as work. Rather than hire out of desperation we suggest that you use a contingent worker-whether they be from a staffing or leasing agency, or an independent contractor.

The second reason why we make poor hiring decisions is due to laziness. It's not that we're lazy people-it's just that we have so little time. Since hiring isn't given the priority it deserves, we are focused on getting it over with as soon as possible, so we can get back to doing our work. If you are too crunched for time or too lazy to go through a sound hiring process, then let someone else do it for you. Use a recruiter, an agency, or someone else within your company. The 15 percent you may have to pay to convert the employee to a full-time status is well worth it.

The next reason is that of infatuation. Studies show that most interviewers make an emotional decision to hire someone within the first ten minutes of an interview and then spend the rest of the time justifying that emotional decision. Many of us buy our cars the same way. We make an emotional decision to buy a certain car and then spend days reading consumer reports to justify the decision. You can avoid infatuation by having more than one person involved in the interviewing process. You can also avoid infatuation by making sure that you meet with the candidate on more than one occasion before extending an offer.

The next reason of that is baggage. We all have baggage someplace. Our baggage may be that we don't think a woman can make a good forklift operator. Our baggage may be that we don't feel a male could make a good head nurse or that a minority could make a good executive. Whatever our baggage may be, it often gets in the way of making a sound hiring decision. Let me give you a perfect example. For years women complained that the New York Philharmonic Orchestra had discriminatory hiring practices. The women fought for and won the right to "blind auditions," where the musicians sound is qualified while they are behind a curtain. This eliminates any stereotypes in the process. As a result, women were hired at the twice the rate previously. What management came to understand is that while the orchestra may not look like what they thought it should look like-it sounds a whole lot better!

The last reason why human nature gets in the way of making a sound hiring decision is because of recommendations. Very simply we want to trust someone else's viewpoint about a potential employee. As a result, we never test that employee for skills, character, drug use, etc. If we are desperate, lazy, infatuated, or let our baggage or recommendations get in the way, we will never go through a sound hiring process-which is the most critical point in building powerful employment relationships.

If you want only the best then you must past human nature and insist that a hiring process be followed. What follows are insights, strategies and tools you should consider to make sure you hire only the best. They are the most critical factors that must be mastered if you want to have the best company possible.


The traditional notion of creating a slot in the Organization Chart and filling it with a warm body is going by the way side. Today, savvy employers first ask themselves "What are my specific needs? What are the most important job functions that need to be addressed? What resources do we currently have that could address some or all of these needs? How can we change our workflow so that we are that much more efficient and can meet these needs without having to hire an employee?

For example, many companies complain they are "under staffed." However, the analysis may be that they are "over worked." It is not an issue of the staff, but rather of the workflow. Some of this workflow can be streamlined by eliminating non-profitable clients or customers. In sales jargon this is known as the "C" list. Many companies also make the mistake of perceiving the existence of a long-term need when in fact, it is a short term one and extremely subject to market conditions.

Once you have specifically defined your needs, the next question is, "Who can best meet them?" Assuming you need a person to do some work, would you be better served by hiring an employee, using a temporary employment agency, a leased employee, or an independent contractor? Does the work have to be performed on the premises or can it be done out of the home? For example, hiring employees in extremely volatile marketing conditions makes little sense. Better to hire temps instead.

Many companies prefer employees based on assumption that they will be more loyal and committed to your company. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Employees, as with contingent workers, are committed and loyal to their careers, their projects and work teams, but not to their companies. Don't make decisions based on a false set of assumptions.


You should have job descriptions in order to help define what you want and explain it to candidates. Many of today's management experts, including Tom Peters and Peter Drucker, suggest you destroy job descriptions because they create limits on innovation and the development of a learning organization. We believe there is a comfortable middle ground. You should be able to define what the 80/20 is of any employee's day. What three functions will employees perform that generate 80 percent of their value? These functions should be clearly set forth in a job description or performance agreement. They also should be the focus of interviewing and testing procedures.
See the Job Description Template


Look from within but be aware of the pros and cons of doing so. On the pro side, there is the potential for increasing productivity and commitment with the hopes of a promotion. There is also the possibility that a quality employee would like to continue to work for your company, but in a different capacity. On the con side, there is the problem with inbreeding and stagnation. As a result, we recommend at least one-third of all positions be filled by outsiders. There is also the problem with promoting people beyond their competencies, otherwise known as the "Peter Principal." This occurs very frequently with a promotion to a management position. While an employee may be very good at a product or service delivery, that does not mean they have good management or people skills. It is important that when you promote from within, you go through the same hiring process as if you were interviewing an outsider.

See the Notice of Job Opening


For many businesses, the classified help-wanted ad in the local newspaper or industry publication is the primary source of recruitment. The purpose of a help-wanted ad should be to attract the highest qualified candidate at the lowest possible cost. The help-wanted ad should be designed to attract the type of employee you want, not to provide a complete job description, the potential salary or the benefits you intend to offer. As with any other form of marketing or advertising, the effectiveness of your help-wanted ad is related to the cost per exposure to obtain qualified job applicants. There is a simple formula to help you to determine this factor: Cost of advertisement divided by circulation of publication multiplied by the percentage of qualified job applicants that read the periodical equals the cost per exposure.

Let's pretend you are advertising for an engineer. The paper tells you the ad cost is $100 for four weekly runs. Its circulation is 10,000. According to the paper, 10 percent of its readers look at the classifieds and 5 percent of the readers are engineers. This means you are reaching 50 potentially interested candidates at a cost of $2 each. If you receive 10 qualified responses, your cost is $10 per qualified response.

Once you become more effective with your advertising, you will be able to further define and evaluate this equation. The methodologies you used to attract yesterday's employees do not necessarily work for today's employees. You may end up finding that it is cheaper to reach the same audience, for less cost per exposure, by using different media (e.g., local trade journal vs. newspaper classified). Also calculate the long-term value of the position in determining how much to spend on an ad.

The hiring of an employee must be viewed in terms of hiring an individual profit center. You won't hire the person capable of giving the best value simply by telling people what it is you are willing to do for them. You get what you ask for. Today's employer should be looking for employees who are concerned with adding value and quality, flexible and innovative, dedicated to self-improvement, willing to invest in your company's future, and who have good health habits. Advertising for employees is no different from advertising for new customers. You must stress your company's unique value proposition and let prospective employees know their compensation will be directly related to the amount of added value they provide to your company.

(Remember, the fewer words, the cheaper the ad.)

About the Company (only if its true!)

  • "Great environment"
  • "Progressive, innovative"
  • "Growing, expanding"
  • "Excellence, quality"
  • "Industry-leading products or services"
  • "Value-directed compensation"
  • "We value diversity"
  • "We are searching for the best possible [position title]"
  • Your unique value proposition
  • Your company mission or vision
  • "Challenging opportunity"

About the Job

  • Provide the position, title, essential skills and education required
  • Give additional specifics via e-mail, fax, or phone
  • "Challenging opportunity for the right person"
  • Where it's located
  • If travel is involved
  • Team environment vs. independence
  • "Work with purpose"
  • Non-monetary benefits of the job

About the Applicant

  • "Trustworthy"
  • "Desire, ambition, motivation, attitude"
  • "Personal excellence"
  • "Healthy lifestyle"
  • "Seeks challenges"
  • "Flexible/adaptable to change"
  • "Seeks to add value"
  • "Computer literate"
  • "Communication skills"

Don't Use These Words or Phrases

  • Everything that's in every other ad
  • Passive words
  • "Security"
  • "Long term"
  • "Guaranteed"
  • Cute or fancy words
  • Any words related to race, age, sex, physical type, etc. unless directly related to a bona fide job requirement (i.e., swimsuit models)
  • Don't stress salary or benefits in your ads unless they exceed your competitors'

Are you looking for a challenge?  Are you up to working in a fast-paced, innovative, diverse environment?  ABC Company, an expanding company is seeking self-motivated individuals to join our team.


We are seeking highly qualified applicants for a position as Customer Service Representative.  Minimum requirements are 2 years college, excellent oral and written communication skills, ability to handle diverse assignments with minimum of supervision, familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite, and 2 years experience in customer service.


ABC Company is a growing service firm utilizing progressive marketing and management strategies.  If you are looking for a job where EXCELLENCE is the goal and you are rewarded based on the VALUE you add, call our fax on demand service at (01) 555-123 or visit our website at www.anywhere.com/jobs for more information.


  • Try advertising in different media. Consider industry journals, graduate schools, adult education programs, newsletters, and job lines.
  • Change your ad content weekly to see which ad draws the best response. (Benchmark and test your results.)
  • Use an ad headline. Get outrageous!
  • Change your ad headlines!
  • Ask what current employees like about their jobs and put their endorsements in the ad, direct mail or fax piece
  • Have some or all your employees sign your ad
  • Review the classified ads and circle what you like best about the different ads. Save these ads and phrases. Incorporate them into your ads
  • Monitor the source of all applicant leads. Which efforts are providing the best results?
  • Unless you fear the loss of an existing employee, don't use "blind ads." Take pride in your company
  • Try running long copy ads using weekday rates
  • Use bullet points
  • Tell applicants they can obtain more information from the company by calling a voice-mail message, e-mail message, fax-on-demand service, or by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the company
  • If you don't want in-person responses to your ad, rent a post office box and have responses sent there or to a fax number only
  • Make sure you know where your most fertile applicant pool exists. Consider using demographic studies.
  • Send a direct mail piece to the mailing list of an industry-related publication.
  • Let your customer, vendors and other stakeholders know about the job opening.
  • Study the effectiveness of your ad based on lead generation and qualified response rates.
  • Ask what it's worth to the company to attract the best possible applicant. Then match your advertising budget to the perceived benefit.
  • Compare the rate cards and circulation figures of the different publications for cost per exposure of the ads and demographics of the readership.
  • Compare the effectiveness of different advertising methods. For example, what is the total one-month cost for a two-column ad in the local paper? What can you get for an equivalent cost if you use a two-line ad with a voice-mail and/or fax-on-demand system? Which one gets better results?
  • Be careful to place the ad under the proper job heading when using classifieds. Are you seeking an "administrative assistant" or a "secretary"?

The following is a sample ad using some of these techniques:

When you finish reading this report, take a look at today's classified section of your newspaper. Who has a great ad? How can you improve on it? How are you going to advertise for the best?


While there is certainly a great deal of benefit in using classified ads, there are many other ways to hire an employee. Also consider industry journals, graduate schools, adult education programs, newsletters, job lines, and Internet based services. The later is the fastest growing medium for seeking out new employees. Many companies do a successful job of using highly skilled college and graduate students through their schools work-studies programs. There are also internships available at little or no cost.

A number of companies have successfully used their own employees as a source of job prospects. Offer a bonus to an employee who refers a qualified job applicant as well as an additional bonus if they are hired and remained in the companies' employ for six months or more.

These are the most important strategies you can use to find and hire the best. The biggest problems we see employers make when it comes to hiring are 1) the failure to properly define the "need"; and 2) the failure to take the time to follow a process, including the interview of numerous candidates, co-employee interviews, a rating process, background and reference checks. You must be vigilant in fighting the very human tendencies that result in poor hiring decisions discussed earlier in this report.

One last note before we conclude: We always encourage our clients to take a snap shot of their current condition before they start the improvement process. This serves not only as a source of insight, but also as a benchmark for progress. What are you doing right today? What do you have to do better tomorrow? Where are you vulnerable? If you look at your turnover, poor performing employees, and employee lawsuits, you will see that many of them trace back to poor hiring practices.









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