Protip: Treat Hiring Like Dating
Almost every printer or graphic arts company I have talked to in the last few years has said that finding employees—especially SALES employees, is damn near impossible. I myself have been retained to help a couple of printers find salespeople, and I can tell you firsthand it is not as simple as it once seemed to be. Back in the old days (read—90’s and 2000’s), I used to put an ad in the Chicago Reader and I would be inundated with young fresh grads that were looking to get their feet wet in sales. Today, with social media, jobsite aggregators like Indeed and all of the for-pay ad sites like Monster and CareerBuilder, finding people costs MONEY—to say nothing of hiring a headhunter that you HOPE will understand your company and your needs well enough to find you someone great. (And we all know they cost a bloody fortune too!)
So what do you do if you really need to fill a spot and you don’t have a ton of money to spend to find him or her?
I say treat your search like you were looking for a mate. Here are five things I would do if I were you.
1. TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR—If I were single today, I would be telling every girlfriend, butcher and baker that I was on the market—I would ask everyone if they knew of someone great. Same applies if you are looking for a salesperson. Does your best friend have a son who just graduated from college? Does one of your neighbors have a personality you have always been impressed with? Open your eyes wide to possibilities and enlist your whole personal and professional network in the search.
2. LOOK EVERYWHERE—Did you get great service at dinner last night? Did the person who helped you pick out a scarf for your wife really WOW you with her charm? Carry business cards with you everywhere you go and NEVER be shy about saying it just like this, "I was very impressed with you. If you ever want to talk about career options, please give me a call or shoot me an e-mail."
3. USE ALL THE TOOLS AVAILABLE—Social media. Your blog. Your vendors. Your customers. The free sites. The for pay sites. The job board of every college within 200 miles of your shop. And yes, even your local paper. Use them all.
4. TAKE YOUR TIME—we all know how costly a bad hire can be (and how crappy a bad boyfriend can be) so don’t rush it. Have a very clear picture of what you are looking for IN WRITING, and enlist as many employees and trusted advisors as you can. It is not unusual for the hiring process to take as many as EIGHT (yes, I said EIGHT) interviews.
5. LOOK FOR FIT AND TRUST YOUR GUT OVER WHAT YOU SEE ON A PIECE OF PAPER—Building on what I said above in number five, if the voice in your head is telling you there is a problem. Don’t hire. Conversely, if you get such a great feel for someone but his/her resume tells you s/he is "job-hopper" or doesn’t have enough experience or a degree, that’s bollocks.
TRUST. YOUR. GUT.
So that’s it—get out and look for that perfect girlfriend/boyfriend—I mean salesperson—right now!
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.