Recruiting Employees: Thinking Outside the Box

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According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate as of December 2010 was 9.4%. This isn’t a promising statistic if you’re looking for a job — but if you’re a business owner, it’s a whole different story. It’s an employer’s market out there, and you hold all the cards when it comes to recruiting employees. There’s a huge potential labor force out there, and part of that labor force is out there right now looking for you.

But how do you sift through all of your options and find the perfect employee? More importantly: how do you connect with these people? There are many, many avenues available for you — but you may be surprised how exhausting it can be to sort through your applicants if you advertise your position in your local papers or on Craigslist.

Temp Agency

If you’re struggling to make everything happen but not completely confident that your business has expanded to the point where you want to hire someone full time, a temp agency could be the perfect solution. Obviously, a temp agency will save you the time you’ve been spending doing the job another person could do, but you’ll save time in other areas as well: recruitment (the agency will sent you only qualified individuals; all you have to do is pick one), payroll (you pay the agency; the agency pays the employee), and training, in the instance that you offer a temporary employee (who you have already trained) a permanent position with your company. Another benefit: when the time comes to extend the permanent offer, you’ll already have a solid idea of their job skills (as opposed to their interviewing skills alone, should you interview someone for the position directly).

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that a temp agency is going to want a cut of the paycheck. Depending on your location, your industry, and the agency’s policy, this cut can vary widely. This is absolutely fair and reasonable, but you should factor it into your decision.

College Grads

With such a bleak unemployment picture, many students are jumping back into academia to pursue higher-level degrees rather than trying their hand at the workforce immediately. By the time this demographic starts really looking, they’ll typically be higher-educated, and therefore more valuable to you and your organization. Of course, it’s illegal to actively seek out an employee of a certain age group. You’re not allowed to discriminate in your hiring practices, or even in your job advertisement practices. But before tossing a resume aside for lack of work experience, try to read between the lines and really give them the benefit of the doubt. They may be more qualified than it first appears.

Obviously, work experience is a factor you should consider when hiring an employee. But it’s up to you how much weight to give to that factor when you consider the following: many higher-level classes provide valuable real-world experience as a regular part of the curriculum — with volunteer opportunities, self-structured projects or studies, and out-of-classroom research projects becoming more and more prevalent, you’ll find that you’ll be able to pay an entry-level wage to someone with more skills and qualifications than the person’s resume might lead you to believe. Additionally, recent college graduates will have the enthusiasm and the willingness to prove themselves, and with a lack of employment referrals, you’ll likely be able to find out from their college professors how well your candidates structure their time — and how seriously they took their “pro bono” school work without a boss peering over their shoulder.


If there’s anything better than paying someone an entry-level wage to work for you, it’s paying someone no wage to work for you. However, it’s your moral responsibility to provide certain things to your interns in return for their free labor. Contact your local university’s Career Services Department to organize college credit for your interns. Give them real, useful job experience (read: beyond fetching your coffee). And tell them that the right candidates will have the right of first refusal for any appropriate job opportunities that may open up toward the end of their internship — or, at the very least, that any hardworking intern will walk away with a letter of recommendation for their next opportunity.

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