Preferences in Hiring Practices

This week, I had the privilege of participating in an Intern Fair at the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference hosted by the University of Missouri, St. Louis.  Being there brought back fond memories of the years I spent as a sales manager with Wang Laboratories (remember them?) and doing college recruitment.  There is something contagious about the energy, attitude and naivety these people bring to recruitment.

While hiring activities have never been my favorite thing – either as a corporate manager or company owner – these activities have contributed to my success in both roles.

Our highest value that we offer as an organization is our people.  So how we go about the hiring process – and finding the right candidates – is critical.

Some Criteria

As I was leaving the Intern Fair, I heard an infomercial recommending companies should search their database to find good candidates.  I’ve tried this approach in the past with very limited success.  For our business, this type of approach isn’t really the right fit to add to our team.

Here’s why.  When I’m hiring, I’m looking for:

  • Someone that has the willingness and ability to convert their decision to look for another job into initiative and action.
  • Someone who does research on a company and job posting – and personalizes an introduction letter on how they would be a good candidate. (Side note – maybe I’m old school, but I still think that these are important.)
  • Someone who is interested in being part of a team – and doesn’t always have a “for hire” sign looking for the next better deal.

I find the quality of the person behind the resume is at least equally important, if not more important than the list of skills and experiences presented on the resume itself.  I’m not looking for a Facebook presentation.  But I want to get an understanding of who they are, what they can do and why what they do is important to them.

I’m a big fan of Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great.   In it, he talks about the importance of getting the “right people in the right seats on the bus”.  To do this, you need to know what people are about and who they are as individuals – not just what they can do.

We’re a technology company and naturally in tune with the importance and benefits of staying on top of the latest tools and processes.  In hiring – technology definitely makes it easy to advertise positions, research and communicate.  But some of those Old School practices have really worked for us in finding the right people for the right seats.

The Steps

Three things I still look for from candidates are:

  • The personalized introduction letter to their resume. It’s extra effort and research – but it gives me a sense as to why You think you’re the right person for the job – and what You think you bring to the table.
  • Answers to a short, three-question survey. This is sent to qualified candidates and asks brief questions regarding their skills/experiences, goals, etc.  Even though this would take probably 10-20 minutes to complete, typically 75% of the surveys are never returned.  This certainly shows their level of interest in us.
  • The ability to handle a phone interview before we bring you in for a personal visit. This step is important to our team as 100% of our customers are remote.  We need to know you can communicate.

Every hire is important and speaks to the quality of our organizations – at all levels and in every capacity.  Searching and buying from a list, to me, isn’t the best way to start.

We have had great success in hiring and retention by getting direct references from employees (good hires reflect well on them), business acquaintances (friendship is a powerful motivator) and customers (they care about you and your role in their success).  But job fairs like the one this week, schools, events – and social media all have benefits too.

Technology is important, but business is personal.  I believe our hiring practices should reflect that.

And, by the way, we’re looking for Interns for our Marketing team.  Contact me if you’re interested – or know someone who may be looking.



Wes Haubein is the President of HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile asset inventory management, RFID and supply chain solutions.  He writes regularly about management, solution integration and technology.

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