An Important Task Managers Cringe Over and Why
By Laura Laaman
One of the tasks your managers probably dislike (ok, hate) is hiring. While they may love the idea of welcoming a fabulous and productive new employee, it’s easy to understand why they cringe at the hiring part. After all, wading through (or drowning in) the process can feel overwhelming while they place ads, determine budgets, reach out to candidates, leave messages, play phone tag and conduct interviews…who would look forward to it?
However, the reality is, we’re in a travel boom—and you’re likely desperate to hire immediately. This industry is dependent on proper staffing, and without adequate quantity and quality of staff, stress rises for everyone. And, more importantly, the quality of pet care can suffer.
Managers understand the need to hire, but haven’t always been provided the steps to be good at it—especially with these post-COVID employment challenges.
Why are Pet Care Facilities Struggling to Hire?
COVID was a massive gut punch to most small businesses. Yes, government PPP loans helped small businesses catch their breath, but then the new and improved unemployment benefits kicked in. Countless potential employees are happier collecting unemployment benefits and aren’t eager to find a job.
As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the unemployment benefits aren’t going to change in most states until the fall. But wait, there’s more…many of us are now vaccinated, which has increased the already pent-up demand to get out of our houses. So, travel is coming back with a fury, and all the new COVID pups mean lots of demand.
If you’ve been trying (but struggling) to hire, you’re not alone. As published in a recent article from The Economist, “In the spring of 2020 the country’s unemployment rate was nearly 15%. Now it is already just 6% after a year containing five of the ten best months for hiring in history.”
So, great, we have jobs to fill. But we still have to find the right people and do so in the quickest possible time. Competition is incredibly fierce, especially among industries like ours that were forced to downsize significantly. Truthfully, it’s not going to be easy.
A 2021 survey by SHRM revealed 75% of HR professionals believe there’s a skills gap among their applicants. This means it’s more critical than ever to reach and secure the right candidates quickly, especially when you consider the cost of a bad hire; a staggering average of $15,000, according to Career Builder.
So, we need to accept a few facts:
- You need to hire regardless of how challenging it is.
- Qualified candidates are becoming fewer and farther between, and they’re being pulled at by your competition.
- You need to balance the rate of pay with a healthy labor ratio and your financial profitability.
How do You Find Good Candidates in this Post-COVID Environment?
Write a great advertisement. Whether we like it or not, it’s time for owners (or someone else qualified in the company) to “sell” candidates on working for their business. You would think paying people more than what you’re comfortable with is enough. Unfortunately, it’s not. Prospective employees need to be sold on why they should join your company, the value of the job, any opportunities for career advancement and more.
A job description helps you define what you expect and the kind of work a new employee will do. It’s important to be as specific as possible when creating a job description. Job descriptions usually include information like duties, responsibilities and other details about the job. The job description will help you with the important next step of writing your ad.
Place an advertisement where your target pool of employees search. Today, there’s no need to place job advertisements in any newspapers. Most of your ideal employee pool want to look for ads on their phone, tablet or laptop. Many job seekers will visit employer websites to find job listings, with Gallup reporting as many as 77% of applicants will check your website for a direct application link.
The other major way job seekers find openings is through digital hiring platforms like Indeed.com, ZipRecruiter.com, LinkedIn and Facebook Jobs. You’ll be asked to place a daily budget, but don’t forget to only list the job for a short period of time. If you list it for a long timeframe, like a month, it’ll get costly, and you want to find someone great now.
Consider not including the pay range in the ad. This advice may seem unusual, but it’s effective. Your cap of wage may or may not be correct. What if a great candidate was available for just a little more than your listed pay range? Not having the hourly or salary range in the ad gives you the opportunity to reach out and find out how much a quality candidate needs to make a move.
This information will also give you the ability to understand what the current market is paying. According to LinkedIn, compensation is the single highest consideration for most job seekers. So, if your ad lists too low of a wage range, you may repel potentially great applicants.
The most powerful tool is your response. All the strategies listed above are essential, but they don’t mean anything if you don’t respond properly. The best responses are fast, frequent and extremely friendly.
Fast is the first key. If you respond quickly, you’ll get the opportunity to talk to applicants and hopefully hire quickly. As shown in a recent Glassdoor survey, the average time it takes to hire a new employee can be as many as 53 days, which feels like an eternity when you need help now.
So, if someone applies electronically at 10:01, make it your goal to reach out to them by 10:05. Yes, this is very difficult (if not impossible) to do when you’re running around owning or managing a pet care facility. Unfortunately, it’s necessary. Why? If you call someone right away after they apply, they know who you are. It’s fresh in their mind. This is very different from calling later that same day or the next after they’ve sent many applications to many companies and your name has gotten muddled with the rest.
This also helps you manage your pool of applicants. If a candidate isn’t interesting to you, you can politely move along. If they are interesting, set them up for a face-to-face or Zoom interview the same or next day.
Set up individual or group interviews. If you’re hiring for pet care positions, you may want to try a group interview. Group interviews involve inviting a group of people to meet with you at the same time. They’re worth a try but can make candidates feel less than special. The best option is holding individual interviews. A study by iCIMS revealed 67% of employed Americans say the interview process influenced their decision to take a job, so it’s critical to make a good impression on the phone and in person.
Have an organized hiring protocol. Having an organized hiring protocol starts with having a prepared list of questions for your phone screening and individual interviews, as well as keeping your notes and feedback well organized. Always make notes during or immediately after the interview, as candidates can start to blend together when you’re meeting many people back-to-back. An organized process means you can most easily compare candidates to determine the ones you want to move ahead with.
What about second interviews? Having more than one interview is common. A second interview provides another opportunity to see if the applicant is reliable, timely and how he or she interacts with other members of management. You can ask more detailed questions about their past experience as well as discuss wages, benefits and other job details not normally touched on in the first interview. Be sure to schedule the second interview soon after the first—waiting too long increases the risk someone else will get to them before you do.
However, in today’s especially fierce job market, many companies are choosing to offer the position immediately at or following the first interview. If you find someone you feel is truly great for the position, it may be best to move ahead right away.
Laura Laaman is president of Outstanding Pet Care. Outstanding Pet Care now offers industry-expert hiring assistance at a fraction of the cost of recruiters. For over 20 years we have helped pet care businesses increase revenues to unprecedented levels and, of course, we guarantee our clients’ success. Go to www.outstandingpetcare.com/contact for a free consultation.