Collins | How To Improve, And Ease, The Hiring Process

Filling a vacancy can be problematic. However, there are good candidates and good solutions for companies willing to think creatively. Such solutions may even improve a company’s overall results.

A few weeks ago, MFM’s membership manager submitted his resignation. A former employer contacted him with an offer of a better-paying job closer to his home. That’s a tough blow, particularly for a small staff organization in which everyone has a lot of different responsibilities. We’re now knee-deep in screening candidates to fill this crucial role.

MFM’s situation is a familiar one. As Media Staffing Network’s Laurie Kahn wrote in a recent column for MFM’s member magazine, The Financial Manager, organizations are facing severe headwinds when it comes to staffing. On the one side, 10,000 baby boomers will retire daily between now and 2029. Younger generations needed to replace them expect to have multiple employers during their working lives, which Kahn says will only increase turnover over time. On top of that, unemployment is extremely low.

It’s not all bad news though. There are good candidates and good solutions for companies willing to think creatively. Such solutions may even improve a company’s overall results.

Consider The Company’s Needs

The place to start is figuring out what the company really needs. Kahn suggests that offering accommodations for good employees who are nearing retirement might be a practical solution. Would it be possible to offer a flexible schedule or the option to work remotely a few days a week or even a few months a year? Such an approach might also allow a company to keep a valuable employee who is moving on because of a spouse’s job.

Is job-sharing an option? This could take a number of different forms. A veteran employee, a salesperson for example, might be more productive when paired with a newer workforce entrant. The salesperson has valuable community relationships, which can be passed along to the next generation.


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Millennials and Generation Z employees are digital natives who can be fearless when adopting new workplace technology. They can also help their older counterparts navigate new software solutions. Creating an opportunity for people to learn from each other, while getting different perspectives, is a proverbial win-win.

Kahn talks about job-sharing scenarios in which an employee new to the workforce is hired to provide administrative support to a veteran seller. She says the new employee gets valuable industry training while the salesperson is freed-up to focus on selling. She says: “We have seen sellers dramatically increase their billing by adding support.”

Are Job Descriptions And Hiring Criteria Valid?

It’s also important to revisit job descriptions and requirements before posting an opening.

Years ago, when Google decided to get into the radio business, Kahn’s firm was hired to recruit staff. She says that the only candidates who would be considered were those with a college degree and a minimum 3.5 grade point average — no matter how long it had been since they’d graduated from college. That cut out a lot of candidates.

Is industry experience really necessary? How about a college degree? Unless the job requires a specific certification — engineering or accounting are examples — it may make sense to remove them from the requirements. In fact, Kahn suggests that candidates with community connections may be more valuable in sales than someone without them.

Re-Evaluate The Hiring Process

The FCC has Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) rules for media companies, so most companies are attuned to EEO compliance. However, there may still be unintentional bias in a company’s hiring practices. ComplyRight recently offered a webinar intended to help companies guard against discriminatory hiring practices. They recommend five steps to help eliminate unintentional bias. These steps may also be helpful for companies looking to improve their candidate pool:

  • Write a thorough job description — A detailed, well-written job description is an important document in any defense against possible discrimination complaints. It serves to outline the duties and responsibilities of the position objectively, and can guide the employer in conducting fair assessments of job applicants.
  • Use a legally-sound job application — An attorney-approved job application allows an employer to pose standard questionsto all candidates without violating their privacy and employment rights. An interviewer may not see the harm in asking what year a candidate graduated from high school, but this could be viewed as an indirect way of finding out a person’s age.
  • Ask consistent interview questions based on the job description — Solid interviews involve asking each candidate the same questions and ensuring that these questions are job-related. Straying from the job description and subjecting just one candidate to a line of questioning that is different from the others can invite unwanted legal issues.
  • Minimize small talk during interviews — Polite and friendly conversation during interviews on topics unrelated to the job can lead to unintentional discrimination. Once the interviewer goes off course, the conversation or questions could slip into inappropriate areas such as family life, ethnicity or religion. It’s best to keep the small talk to an absolute minimum.
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Re-Imagine The Job

In cases where a company struggles to find the right candidate for a full-time position, Kahn suggests considering part-timers. This could be particularly appealing for stay-at-home parents and young workers who may have multiple jobs.

We already have five generations present in the workplace, that’s a drastic change from the workforce of our parents’ generation, or even the one many of us saw when we started our careers. And, it’s certain that the workplace of the future will be different from what we are seeing today. It’s only by adapting to these changes that media business will continue to survive and thrive.

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Here at MFM, we are taking all of this advice to heart and look forward to having a new hire to announce soon.

Laurie Kahn’s article, “Hiring Outside the Box,” appears in the January/February issue of TFM. A digital copy of the magazine will continue to be available on the MFM website for the next couple of weeks. After that, it will move to the members’ only area.

If you are interested in learning more about media industry employment law challenges and considerations with a particular emphasis on social media, employment contracts, and factors in an era of multi-generational workforces, I encourage you to register for MFM’s March 24 Distance Learning Seminar.

Russell Jones, shareholder, Littler Mendelson, will provide an update on a topic, which got rave reviews at last year’s MFM CFO Summit. Registration information is available here.

Mary M. Collins is president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association and its BCCA subsidiary, the media industry’s credit association. She can be reached at [email protected] and via the association’s LinkedInTwitter or Facebook sites.

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