Where can I find good employees?

Dear Ken Keller,

My company is growing again and one of the biggest challenges we face is to find more good employees. I am frustrated at the lack of qualified people responding to our ads and even those we interview are not the ones we are looking for.

Barry S.

Dear Barry:

As you grow, getting to the next stage spins off new issues to deal with. None, however, is more important than the challenge of finding and keeping great people.

There is now, and will always be, a shortage of high quality employees. Recruiting 2.0 is based on a new mantra: always be recruiting.

In addition to using the global online job search sites, you should also narrow your efforts geographically and use local job sites because they often surface seasoned candidates who want a shorter commute. But don’t forget temporary agencies and you should consider recruiters in your industry.

I recommend four other methods. The first is to have space on the company website for interested candidates to inquire about working at your company.

The second is to create a program where you pay your current employees a bonus when they refer someone to work at your company who turns into a productive employee.

The third is signage announcing to visitors, vendors and people walking or driving by that your company is accepting applications.

The fourth is to reconnect with former employees that you were disappointed to see leave. Some may some be having second thoughts and wish to return and they may also be in a position to refer quality candidates.


Dear Ken Keller,

In previous columns, you have mentioned the need to lead by example. Can you elaborate on what you think an owner should do to set a positive example? I think I could improve in this area.

Marianne O.

Dear Marianne:

The most important thing about being a leader is to always remember is that you are being observed by your employees. You need to understand that everything you do, don’t do, say or don’t say, is going to be reviewed, scrutinized, analyzed and commented on by your employees.

I have always counseled my clients to have calendar transparency. That does not mean sharing your calendar with every employee.

It does means letting people key people know when you are out of the office for business purposes. If you have a morning meeting, let your direct reports know “I am attending a business meeting from 7am to 9am tomorrow. I will arrive at the office by 10am. Call me if it is an emergency otherwise see me when I get in. Thanks.”

You may not agree with this level of openness but I think if an employee asks where you are, letting them know provides reassurance you aren’t in Las Vegas gambling away future paychecks.

Whenever possible, arrive before your employees and stay until they leave. Don’t be a hermit in your office behind a closed door. Be visible, walk around at different times of the day and let people see you.

You are the boss and people will respect that but you also want to be approachable. Take the time to talk to your employees, and ask questions about them and what they are working on. Be sure and inquire if they have everything they need to do their job; you will find that it is often the little things that make a positive difference.

I’ve witnessed, as you probably have, that the best leaders are authentic, provide clarity in direction, following the values of the organization, staying focused on the mission, and keeping the company moving in a forward direction.