Jobs Are Scarce
by Char Coburn
March 1, 2009
How some applicants quickly take themselves out of the running
One of the reasons I do what I do is the feeling I get when I hire someone. To know that I have done something to so positively affect someone’s life is very fulfilling. In the past few months that feeling has been hard to come by. We haven’t hired very many employees. We have had very few leave, and we have redefined our work force by not replacing those who have moved on. Recently, we lost someone at the managerial level who had to be replaced.
Inundated with calls
I was composing an ad and information to be placed on our Web site in order to
recruit for this position, I was listening to a local talk radio show. The host
was talking about unemployment and invited employers to call and tell his
listeners about available jobs. I called. I was invited to provide the name of
our casino, the jobs we had available and my phone number. I barely hung up the
phone from becoming a radio-personality when it rang. The caller had heard me
on the radio and was interested in applying for one of the two jobs about which
I had spoken. When I hung up from that call, the phone gave me the
“voice-mail-beep”. When I retrieved my messages I discovered that I had gotten
21 messages in
two and a half minutes – all of them in response to the announcement I made on
the radio. It was unbelievable.
It got even more difficult to believe after I ran an ad in the local paper on Sunday in order to reach as many potential applicants as possible. Over the next week, we got more than a hundred applicants – for that single job. It was heart-wrenching. I wanted to hire every one of them, but of course that was impossible. It graphically demonstrated to me just how sad the job market is.
Weeding the field
few of them very quickly eliminated themselves from contention. When I asked
one man for his salary requirement, and he told me it was a minimum of $80 an
hour, I knew we would never be on the same page. Another who had applied for
the open position asked if we had any other jobs available. Hmmm. The one that
asked me what medical problems were covered and when he would be eligible for
group insurance also didn’t have the qualifications for the job. The list was
narrowed down by these three guys very quickly.
The woman who asked how many smoke breaks we allow didn’t endear herself to me. I told her what the laws are regarding breaks, and she frowned. I told her she could most certainly smoke, but we have one smoking area and that we don’t provide extra breaks for smokers. She took herself off the short list.
I have a very large, 3-foot by 5-foot sign on one wall of my office that spells out our pre-employment drug-testing policy. It is very hard to miss seeing it. I guess the person who asked if we really do drug tests failed to notice the sign that could be seen over my shoulder on the wall behind me. In response to the question, I pointed out the sign. He said it wouldn’t be a problem. I told him the story of the employee I’d hired before Thanksgiving who said the same thing. When the results came back and were positive, that employee had to visit with me and subsequently lost the job due to the positive results. I will never know if this applicant would’ve passed a test since he didn’t have all of the experience that we required the successful candidate to have.
I was really surprised at the number of applicants who expressed their need to get the job but that they would have to postpone their start date for anywhere from two weeks to a full month. When I hire someone who is working elsewhere I like hearing, and expect, that the person insists on giving that employer a two-week notice. The folks applying for my opening were for the most part unemployed.
I was really glad we had so many responses since there were a few who called to ask for our location, for directions to the property, if I knew what bus to take, and one who even asked if he got the job could he live in our hotel (we don’t have one).
Good hire stands out
we hired the person we feel best fit our requirements. His reaction was
gratifying. He didn’t ask any of the questions I mentioned. Funny how it works
out that way.
Char Coburn is the director of human resources for the Bonanza Casino in Reno. She has been at the casino for the past 20 years and is a human resources generalist who wears many hats.
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