Not-so-conventional wisdom for finding and keeping quality employees
By Jessica Millward
The custom retail market, for better and for worse, is anything but typical. Its business proposition—to offer individualized service in a standardized way—is a tricky balancing act in the best of circumstances. So it's oddly fitting that the greatest difficulty facing such an industry, in an era of slow economic growth and an abundance of unemployed and underemployed workers, would be recruiting and retaining the right people.
As of September this year, nine million jobless workers were on the hunt for work, and 23.2 percent of them, or 2.1 million, have been searching for more than 27 weeks (U.S. Department of Labor Employment Situation Summary). Yet at the same time, back in CI country, C-tailers find themselves scouring their surroundings for potential employees, and hoping that those valuable players they do have won't jump ship, or worse, choose to captain their own competitive boats.
So although any discussion of better recruiting and retaining practices in the C-tailing marketplace starts with conventional hiring wisdom, it quickly veers with the particular nature of custom work. Many of today's hiring gurus emphasize "soft" skills, or people skills, over hard ones, and value potential and talent over experience and demonstrated ability. But how should bosses weigh a potential employee's interpersonal tact versus his wire-pulling skills? Should a crack programmer be turned away because he's not as presentable as he could be, or because he lacks salesmanship?
Custom install industry associations are all too aware of the severity of the hiring crisis, and are therefore calling on staffing specialists to shed bigger-picture insights on human resources within the CI context. PARA's "Survival of the Fittest" conference, held last April in Miami, offered up a presentation by Daniel Abramson, president of Staff Dynamics, a hiring practices consultancy and training firm based in New York. Abramson is a staunch advocate of personality testing in the recruitment process; a position he takes in response to the changing face of the U.S. labor force.