Red Hot Thoughts

Archive for the ‘Recruiting’ Category

Extending the Job Offer

October 6th, 2014


As an employer, deciding whom to hire can be a tough decision. Not only do you expect the person to be qualified, but you also want him/her to be a good fit for your company’s culture. Once you have decided the best fit for your company, you must extend a job offer for acceptance. While extending a job offer can be a joy-filled task, careful consideration must be given to the process in which an offer is extended and the specific terms that are offered. A little planning can minimize the chance of creating any unintended employment contracts.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind the next time you extend a job offer:

• Be prompt—give the candidate a call and extend your offer over the phone. This conversation can touch on the employment basics. If your offer is accepted, a follow-up acceptance letter can provide more detail on the specific terms/conditions of the offer.

• If the candidate doesn’t give you an answer immediately, give the candidate a deadline for responding. Depending on the level of the job, anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days can be a reasonable time period.

• Pay attention to the details of the offer letter and don’t make promises that you cannot or do not intend to keep. Compensation should be given as an hourly rate or a biweekly or monthly salary. Annual compensation should not be stated in the offer letter as it may imply that you intend for the candidate to be with the company for one year and that you intend to pay them the annual salary, regardless of any extenuating circumstances that may arise.

• Be prepared to negotiate if needed. You may have three great candidates and if one doesn’t accept, one of the others might. But, if the candidate is worth fighting for and he/she wants to negotiate, be prepared. Research beforehand to determine what the major factors for acceptance are for that particular candidate. Maybe those factors are relocation assistance, helping his/her spouse obtain employment, more money or more paid time off. Regardless, always maintain sight of what is appropriate for your business.

Next time you have the opportunity to welcome a new employee, implementing these tips into your hiring process will make the experience an enjoyable one—for you AND your new hire!

Rehiring Laid Off Employees

September 18th, 2014


We had a client call the other day with exciting news….business activity had increased and he needed to hire a few employees to keep up with the new demand.  Six months ago, when business was more scarce, he had to lay off ten employees, all of whom he would love to re-hire when/if he had the opportunity.  At the time of the layoff, he had expressed that he had hoped the downturn would be temporary, but with no recall policy in place, he was confident that none of the employees had an expectation of being rehired.  However, he now had the opportunity to re-hire some of them and wanted to know how to go about the process.  How did he choose who to contact to see if they wanted to return the company?  With no formal recall policy in place, he was having a difficult time deciding what to do.

We asked him to consider the following:  When he laid off these individuals, was it by seniority or by their work performance?  If he laid off employees based upon seniority, he may use seniority as a factor in determining who to contact first.  If he laid people off based upon skills and qualifications, he may want to review what types of skills are needed for the  new positions and contact only those employees who have the necessary qualifications.  If, by chance, he determined that two employees possessed  equal skills, he could then look at their seniority to decide whom to contact first.

We also reminded him to keep in mind the following when bringing these individuals back into the workforce:

1. Clearly communicate re-hire terms of employment.  Are the employees returning at their last rate of pay?  Will benefits be reinstated without the customary waiting period?  Will the work schedule be the same as before the layoff occurred?

1. Ensure all necessary employee paperwork is accurately completed/up-dated including re-verifying the form I-9.

2. Facilitate a refresher course on safety or other applicable training.  Depending on the nature of the job, or if there have been any changes to the job description since the employee left, you will want to ensure the employee receives the necessary training and is notified of any updates.

With those recommendations, we congratulated our client on the recent upswing in his business and wished him well in his future endeavors.

Rehiring After a Layoff

August 27th, 2014


Some of our clients who have conducted layoffs over the past few months are optimistic that what they once believed was a difficult permanent decision might now be only temporary. While they might not be rehiring in the next few months, they believe that they might be able to rehire some of the employees they were forced to lay off by early fall.

While this is great news, these employers must not forget to consider the potential legal issues when rehiring laid off employees.  For companies who used solely subjective criteria such as performance evaluations, rehiring of former employees needs to be completed with care in order to avoid potential discrimination concerns.  Sometimes the rehiring process can be just as complicated as the layoffs.

Employers, employees, and those who were laid off during the downturn are all eagerly anticipating a return to the ’good times’.  We have worked with many clients during these extremely difficult times as they have worked to trim their payroll costs in order to remain viable.  The layoff process is a very had one, with management investing long hours in careful deliberation on where and how to reduce their expenses all the while trying to balance their fiduciary responsibilities with the needs of their customers and their employees.

On the other hand, when times improve and it’s time to ramp back up, re-hiring employees should be a breeze.  Not so fast!  Consider this scenario:  Because business has increased over the summer of 2009, you are looking to fill three job openings on the retail floor beginning August 15th.  In February of 2009, you laid off five workers who held jobs in that same position.  Two of the salespeople were women, the other three were male.  If you choose to re-hire the three  males, how can you prove that your decision was reasonable?  What was your decision process—and was it objective?  Remember, discrimination law applies to hires…and RE-hires as well.

Employers who conducted layoffs by seniority need to be cautious when bringing employees back as well to ensure seniority is considered when asking employees to return.  Let’s say the employer knows the most senior separated employee had some attendance issues that were never properly addressed prior to the layoff.  The employer needs to understand that the attendance issue cannot be a factor in deciding not to re-hire this employee if it was communicated that separations and potential rehires were being carried out based upon seniority ONLY. The time to work with the employee on poor work habits should have happened long before the layoffs began.  By keeping someone with performance issues on the job, management caused problems for the company obviously at the time the employee was allowed to get away with such behavior.  The problem, however, is compounded when management is forced to re-hire this employee because of the factors they used when determining the layoff.  For this employee, as with all rehires, management should provide policy reminders on attendance and all other company rules and reestablish work performance expectations upon return to the workplace.

Another subject to consider when rehiring laid off employees is the eligibility of benefits such as health insurance upon rehire as well as how leave accruals, etc., are managed.  Employers must  carefully review their policies and plan documents prior to contacting any former employees to ensure they have the answers to these questions. If any policy is not clearly defined, the company will want to comply with any past practices, or, if they need to create a new policy to address the issue, the company will want to be sure it is a practice they can follow consistently in future instances which may be similar.

Of course, many rehiring decisions may depend on former employees’ availability. Depending on how long it has been since layoffs occurred, employees may have found other employment or moved out of the area. All offers of rehire should be documented, and if the former employee chooses to not return, the reason given should be noted.

Re-hiring can be an exciting time.  It means the future is looking much brighter.  When the re-hires are done thoughtfully, with a system in place to address discrimination concerns and a re-commitment to performance expectations, it can be a time of renewal for both the company and all of its employees.

Screening Applicants

August 25th, 2014


There has been a lot in the news lately about applicant screening practices and what is considered “best practice” versus what can land an employer in the middle of a discrimination claim.  Education requirements, credit checks, genetic testing, and social media screening have all been called into question recently.  Despite the negative publicity, thorough background screening is an integral part of making a good hiring decision and is even required in some industries.

While there are some pitfalls to be avoided, below are some suggestions on how to complete thorough checks while being mindful of the laws and privacy of those individuals who apply at your company.

Contact Professional References. While some companies may have a policy against providing any information other than a previous employee’s employment dates and job title, many supervisors/past employers will provide you with their feedback on a previous employee’s performance.  We recommend you inquire about an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses, why the individual left the company and if they are re-hirable.

Perform a Comprehensive Criminal Record Check. This check should include searches in the counties/states where an applicant has lived, worked and attended school as well as a check of the national criminal database.  Merely checking your county or state records is not sufficient as people can move frequently.

Run a Credit History Check. While some state laws limit the use of credit checks in hiring decisions, if the position requires access to large amounts of cash or sensitive information, they are generally allowed.  An individual who has been irresponsible with his/her own finances may have the potential to be irresponsible with yours.

Implement Job-Related Assessments. There are a variety of computer-based tests, everything from bank teller skills tests to personality/profile assessments.  These tests, if created and used correctly, can give an employer insight into a person’s skills and fit for a position.

Use Social Media Outlets Wisely. While conducting social media checks can open an employer up to potential discrimination claims, it comes down to what an employer does with the information they find on a social media site.  For example, merely Googling an applicant’s name to see what pops up is not illegal.  Taking any information you might find on the internet at face value and using it as the deciding factor in hire could land you in hot water.  Remember, not everything you find on the internet is the truth!  Do your due diligence!!!!

Gen X as Managers

August 20th, 2014


For decades, members of Generation X have had to battle the label of ‘slacker’.  They were portrayed in teen movies of the 80’s and early 90’s as unfocused, lazy and grungy.  Ads depicted them as more concerned about the next party than about getting a job. As those born between the mid-sixties and mid-seventies, they followed on the heels of the largest generation in US history, the Boomers.  While the Boomers were graduating from college, working their way up the corporate ladder, and garnering the complete attention of media and advertisers, the much smaller Gen X was developing its own unique culture.  And, in no way can this culture be defined as ‘slacker.’  The typical Gen X employee is now in their late thirties and many are now successful managers and entrepreneurs.  What motivates this generation—and how can we keep the best and the brightest from moving on.

Gen X, once termed the ‘slacker generation’, is evolving into anything but in the workplace.  Granted, they don’t view work quite the way the Boomer generation does.  In fact, these differences can cause much tension and lost productivity if both generations don’t understand what makes the other tick.  Born between 1965 and 1977, more and more managers are part of the Gen X demographic.  To make the most of their talents and keep them motivated, older managers and leaders need to focus on what they need to succeed.

It is important to remember that this generation has grown up with technology.  Computers have always been an integral part of their lives.  Rapid change is not seen as a threat to this group; they have readily adapted to each new technology as it came along.  Because of this, however, they rely more on technology than older workers to help solve issues in the workplace.  Instead of asking, “Who can help us solve this problem” the Gen Xer will often ask “What software is out there to get us out of this situation?”

That’s not to say that the Gen X manager isn’t people oriented.  This generation was the first to introduce the lexicon “Soccer Mom” into the mainstream political discourse.  Their parents were the first purchasers of the Suburban, used to transport their children from the soccer field to the hockey rink on a daily basis.  The Gen X manager is a team oriented leader who understands that everyone has a role on the team.  They also like to win.  The company that keeps the Gen X manager motivated and focused will provide that manager with clear objectives and goals along with an objective way to keep score (i.e. key performance indicators, benchmarks, etc.).

They need to be passionate about the mission and understand how they and their subordinates fit in the long range goals of the organization.  One thing most Gen X managers aren’t passionate about is seniority based promotions and pay structures.  More traditional occupations, such as Public Accounting and Law, must take a fresh look at how to keep their best and brightest from moving on.  This generation, much like the Millennials we wrote about in last month’s newsletter; don’t have the patience to work themselves up the ranks.  They need to be rewarded for performance, not longevity.  Because they are so used to dealing with rapid change it often seems like their own lives are on fast-forward.  “Paying their dues” is something they see as totally irrelevant in today’s workplace.

Since the first Gen Xer was born in 1965, society has gone through changes beyond just technology.  Women bosses aren’t a novelty like they were when the Boomer generation entered the workplace.  Businesses are much more diverse and the Gen X managers are much more at home dealing with different work styles and cultures than the generations that proceeded them.  They are at the forefront of the work/life balance movement.  It is not that they aren’t committed to their work; it is just that they are even more committed to their total life experience.

There are many strengths and skills that a Gen X manager can bring to the workplace.  What must your company do to develop them as productive leaders for your future?




Where Did You Go Wrong?

August 13th, 2014


You’ve made a list of what you need to make you happy; you’ve met many who might meet at least some of your expectations.  After a few dates, you narrow your choices.  Finally, after spending time getting to know each other—asking questions and meeting the family—you pop the question.  You’re elated when the answer is “Yes!”

After a few weeks the euphoria goes away; and, by the second month you both recognize it just won’t work. You call it off.

Divorces are expensive…just like turnover.

No one likes to admit it wasn’t a good fit, whether we’re talking personal relationships or employer-employee relationships.  What can you do next time to increase the odds for a happily ever after?

No one likes to admit they made a mistake.  When the employee leaves in the first year of employment, many factors need to be considered before placing blame.

According to a survey reported on by the Society for Human Resources Management, unrealistic job expectations about the job and/or the organization is a major reason why as many as one-quarter of new hires leave within their first year of employment with a company.  These results represent a broad cross-section of industries.

Among the 2,046 responses received, the reasons given for new hires leaving were:

· Unrealistic expectations of the job and organization – 47.9%

· Failure to grasp how things get done around the organization – 38.7%

· Poor communications with supervisor – 33.1%

· Failure to develop a sense of belonging and purpose – 26.4%

· Inadequate technical skills – 22.7%

· Not understanding the link between the job and organizational goals – 20.9%

· Failure to connect with “key” employees – 17.8%

· Inability to quickly establish trust and credibility – 12.9%

· Poor people skills – 12.9%

From these results, it appears that many employers may not be sharing enough information, or possibly not the most realistic information, during the hiring and orientation processes.  Therefore, it may be difficult for either the supervisor or the new employee to determine if the job is a good fit.  The employee may begin their new job already at a disadvantage and may not get a chance to succeed.

In the effort to recruit the best employees, many businesses may not realize that the “full story” about the company and/or the job is not being presented to, or possibly not being fully comprehended by, the candidate. Supervisors need to be aware of providing accurate, complete information to candidate during the interview process, and carrying that forward to the new hire orientation once a new employee is hired.

If you need any assistance in reviewing your hiring and orientation processes to ensure they are accurately relaying information about your company, give Red a call!  As one of our value-added services, we’ll work with you to review your hiring and orientation processes to be certain the most beneficial , as well as realistic, information about your business is being given.

A realistic job preview in the beginning can save a lot of headaches and heartaches down the road!



Employee Testing

July 23rd, 2014


From writing the job description through calling for references, the hiring process can take management a considerable amount of time if there is no hiring system in place.  Our HR eBook explains the steps that need to be in place for a successful hiring system, along with the forms to be sure the process is consistent.  Sometimes, our HR Coaches receive calls from clients who need a little more coaching on how to make their system as effective as possible.  We received a call just last week concerning pre-employment testing.  The caller wanted to know what tests were legal for an accounting position that she was looking to fill in her company.  Talk about timing!  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently released a “Best Practices” document that addresses this very issue.

Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a fact sheet on the application of federal anti-discrimination laws to employer tests and selection procedures to screen applicants for hire as well as current employees for promotion.  For those who subscribe to our HR Subscription Service, a copy of the fact sheet is located in the eBook, under Federal Guidelines.  Otherwise, you may go to the EEOC’s website where you will find the document at: .        

The fact sheet describes frequent types of employer administered tests and selection procedures used in the hiring or promotion processes, including personality tests, medical examinations, credit checks, and criminal background checks. Additionally, the fact sheet offers “best practices” in order to give employers guidance when using employment tests and other screening devices.

Over recent years, the EEOC has observed an increase in employment testing.  The agency believes this is mostly due to greater security concerns and issues related to workplace violence, safety, and liability. In addition, employers are looking for new, efficient ways to screen large numbers of applicants in an objective way due to the greater use of online job applications and applicant software.

With the use of testing increasing, charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC regarding employment testing and various screening methods have steadily increased.  The use of selection procedures and tests can be very helpful in choosing the best candidate for a job opening; however, you need to decide on and use the assorted tools available wisely to avoid any trouble.



Employee Screening and Social Media

July 21st, 2014




Many colleges and employers are turning to My Space, Facebook, and other social on-line forums as recruiting tools.  Some are even using them as part of the reference and background checking process when screening potential students or employees.  A client called us last week asking if he should use Facebook and My Space when screening for his summer seasonal help.

Our client called thinking it might be a good idea to access Facebook and other on-line social networks to get a better idea of his applicants’ character.  He had heard that other businesses were using internet sites as part of their pre-screening process and wanted our opinion.

As the owner of a summer resort, we recognized that his labor pool is predominately late teens and early twenties—college age men and women who probably have personal pages on many of these sites.  However, our advice was to stay away from them as a background tool.

First, most personal pages are private and one needs to be approved to view a person’s page.  We think it very doubtful that a twenty year old would allow access to a perspective employer.  Not only that, it is very time consuming tracking them down to even get permission!

Second, there are privacy issues.  Cases are now going to court on just how private these sites are, and what rights users have to keep their information secure.  Granted, it is on-line and users need to know that what goes on-line can end up anywhere.  However, unless a perspective employer is invited as a friend, we strongly advise they respect the privacy of the applicant.

Third, often what you see and read on a social network page is not 100% truthful.  Pictures can be altered; there is no fact checking on My Space!  Anyone with access can post whatever they want.

Our advice to our clients is stick with the tried and true reference and background checking tools until the privacy, access and veracity issues are resolved.



Hiring Tips

July 1st, 2014



Many employers spend more time researching a new car purchase than they do searching for a new employee.  They’ll visit car lots on weekends, spend hours on the web, and even more time asking peers and friends for input.  They’ll compare price and service agreements, safety ratings and accessories.  After much agony and soul searching, they make their purchase.  However, when faced with filling a position in their business, they’ll quickly put together a simple want ad and then sit back and cross their fingers that the perfect employee will see the ad and make the call.  No need for us to tell you that the new car will probably be around a lot longer than the rushed new hire!


When you have a job opening, do you always know exactly where to look for that perfect new employee?  If you answered “yes”, that is great; you are one step ahead of the majority! 

Normally, a company does not have one recruitment source with an endless stream of perfect job applicants clamoring at their doorstep. 

With a tightening labor market and ever changing demographics, businesses need to remain open to new recruitment options.  Here are some different avenues for you to consider: 

► Existing applicants.  Keep a database of qualified applicants who have applied for positions with your company, but were not hired.  You never know when these qualified applicants may be the perfect match for a new opening.  Do you try to keep in touch with applicants or do they get lost in a file cabinet?  Keep in mind that an applicant who you may not hire now may turn into a great new employee sometime in the future.

► Current employees.  Always post all job openings within your organization.  An opportunity for advancement or having the chance to try their talents at a different job is a great morale boost for your employees.  Plus, you never know what hidden talents your employees may possess.

► Friends and families of employees within your company.  Remember you have a whole slew of recruiters at your disposal. You never know who your employees have in their network of friends and family.  Do you have an Employee Referral Program?

► General media.  In addition to running a classified ad, have you also considered advertising through a different source in the newspaper?  How about a general article about your company?  Do you have any unique employee events; are some of your employees involved as volunteers in community groups?  Spotlighting these types of activities could help you promote your company as a great place to work.

► The internet.  Most businesses today have websites.  If you are not already doing so, you should take full advantage of your site to advertise current job openings and highlight your company’s employee benefits.

► Trade and lifestyle publications.  Look beyond your local newspaper for different classified advertising options.

► Schools.  Do you offer internships or school to work programs? Do your employees make career presentations?  Do you have a program that allows local students to “job shadow” different positions?  Do you work with the career development office at local schools?

► Job Fairs.  As the job markets tighten, job fairs are becoming more numerous and more popular.  Be creative with your booth and think of ways to create a lasting impression.  Also, be sure to follow up with everyone who filled out a job application or gave you a resume.

► Open House.  An open house provides you with an opportunity to “show off” your business.  Provide tours of the company.  Ask employees to be involved in providing positive testimonials about working for your company.

► Partnerships with other businesses. An applicant who may not be good for you may be perfect for the business down the street.  Through networking, find out what jobs other companies in your area may be looking to fill.

► Customers.  Your customers could make your best employees.  Who is more passionate about your products and/or services than someone who buys from you?







What to Consider When Hiring Summer Help

June 19th, 2014



Seasonal Workers

The arrival of the summer season, many industries are experiencing increases in demand for certain products and/or services which often corresponds with employees’ vacation schedules.  For those employers that are affected by such seasonal work fluctuations, the “seasonal” or “temporary” worker allows for labor flexibility without drastically increasing personnel costs.

A temporary worker is one who is hired for a finite period of time, which is generally only three to six months.  While these workers are sometimes used during seasonal work fluctuations, they are also used to fill in while regular employees take temporary leaves of absences from their jobs.


Before you hire seasonal or temporary help, you might ask yourself “does my business need seasonal worker or would the investment of a regular employee better help achieve my long term goals?”   We have listed some of the various pitfalls and pluses to hiring seasonal help with the hope that we can help you determine whether or not hiring such workers would be a benefit for your business.


Labor Flexibility:  hiring temporary employees allows employers to adjust their labor force quickly and with relative ease

Ease of Hiring:  many employers hire seasonal workers from temporary staffing agencies who do the bulk of the    recruiting work such as interviewing, reference checking, drug/background screening, etc.

Cost Effective:  temporary employees are generally ineligible for company benefits such as medical insurance          and paid time off

Burnout Prevention:  temporary employees provide additional help, lessening the need for regular workers to work overtime


Training Needs:  depending on the position, it may take quite a bit of time for the temporary worker to learn the job.  It could become especially burdensome if you have to train more than one temporary worker for the same job.

Morale Issues: morale  problems can arise when you have temporary workers working alongside regular employees for months, doing the same work, but not receiving the same benefits.

Legal Concerns: businesses must be careful how they contract for temporary staff. There must be no doubt about the workers’ status and about the lack of eligibility for the benefits of permanent employees.