Hiring New Employees Can Be Worse than a Root Canal

There are two things everyone hates: going to the dentist and job hunting. And it turns out, no matter which side of the job hunting table you’re sitting on, trying to find a right fit between employer and employee is hard, unpleasant, and time-consuming.

What makes searching for a new employee so difficult? And, more importantly, how can you make it easier? Here are the problems, and here are the solutions.

Problem: You Want Perfection

Everyone wants to hire that perfect employee. You know the one—she’ll show up to work the first day and magically know everything from your custom computer system to where the bathrooms are located. She’ll fit in perfectly and tell jokes that are just right for your community sense of humor. And her technical skills? Off the charts good!

Yep. Everyone is searching for this candidate, and as a result, you often overlook good candidates in the hope of finding the perfect one. But, the problem is, this person doesn’t exist. She just doesn’t. You have to train even the most skilled and knowledgeable person on how your office works. Even out of the box computer programs become customized after years of use, so training is necessary.

Solution: Lower Your Standards

I am not advocating hiring someone who isn’t capable of doing the job; I’m advocating someone who can do the job but isn’t necessarily perfect. Does the person have the qualifications to do the work you need? Is she pleasant and available during the hours you need to be filled? Then pull the lever and hire her.

Another solution can be looking for a contractor to fill in. What’s the advantage here? With a contractor, you’re not under obligations that you would be with a formal employee. You can try each other out (remember, an employer-employee relationship goes two ways) and see if everything fits. But, remember, you need to allow time for training on how your office works.

Problem: Finding Qualified Candidates

It seems like when you’re not hiring, you get people coming out of the woodwork looking for jobs, but when you need a position filled, the only candidates are woefully unqualified.

Solution: Find All the Time

We talk a lot about networking when people are looking for a job, but hiring managers need to network as well—even if their own jobs are secure. Networking isn’t always about finding your next job; it can also be about finding your next new hire. If you develop relationships with people in the field, you aren’t starting from scratch when you need to hire. You have a whole slate of possibilities in your LinkedIn connections. Most, of course, won’t be looking to leave their current jobs, but some probably will.

So, before you start posting all over the internet or even hiring a recruiter (if you aren’t big enough to have HR on staff) to find you that perfect person, look through the people you’ve already connected with and reach out. You may find the best person for the job with the least amount of pain possible.

Problem: Candidates Want Perfection

You know what? Some managers are horrible, terrible people. Oh, we know you are wonderful, but we’re talking about those other bad managers out there. As a result, candidates are rightfully concerned about what they are getting into.

And in addition to wanting a great manager, they want flexible schedules, fantastic health insurance, and quality snacks in the break room. (Just say no to red delicious apples.)

Solution: Step up Your Game

Yes, I told you to stop looking for perfection in candidates at the same time I’m telling you to be better to attract these less than perfect candidates. I understand that this seems unfair, but the best candidates have lots of options, and you want to be that option.

If you’re not the best manager, take some management classes. (How do you know if you’re not the best manager? Look at your turnover, ask your spouse, and look if your current employees refer their friends. If your turnover is high, your spouse says, “I love you but…” and your current staff insists they don’t know anyone who would possibly ever want a job, then you need improvement.)

If your business doesn’t allow for flexibility, fix that. If your benefits stink, call up your insurance broker and fix it before the next round of open enrollment. Be a better employer, and you’ll attract better candidates.

Hiring is never going to be your favorite thing to do, but these things do make it easier. They also make it more likely you’ll find a great fit for your office, which is best for all concerned. And do think about break room snacks. Nothing says “I appreciate my employees” like a well-stocked fridge.

This post was sponsored by Cloud Dentistry.

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4 thoughts on “Hiring New Employees Can Be Worse than a Root Canal

  1. I have to defend root canals! 🙂 I have had two and the only bad part was that they took so long and were so, so boring. I did, however, have my mp3 player, so I just listened to podcasts while the dentist did his work. I would actually rather have a root canal than attend my annual performance review or do some of the major parts of my job. 🙂

  2. What do you have against red delicious apples? They are wonderful! I’d love it if my breakroom was stocked with a basket of fresh reds.

    In seriousness, thank you for advising managers to make sure they’re on their A game. A good manager will make up for the bad (or nonexistent) breakroom snacks and inflexible schedules, and a great manager can make up for less-than-ideal benefits.

  3. And I chose THIS as a career!? What the heck was I thinking….BTW…every word is true but if companies would actually listen to talent professionals (because it IS a career not a line item on an HR Associates Job Description) life would be better….for everyone

  4. Hiring successful employees is not hard to do, but it does require doing something more.

    Most all new hires are motivated so why do so many new employees seem to lose their motivation over time? 

    1. Competence, without it job success is unlikely. 


    2. Cultural Fit, without it successful working relationships are difficult to build and maintain. 


    3. Job Talent, without it lasting job success is unlikely at best.

    Most employers do not address Job Talent.

    ≈ 80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
    ≈ 80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
    * The two 80 percents are closely related.

    Employers keep hiring the wrong people to be their managers and then they wonder why they have so few successful, engaged employees. Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employees lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
    I. Competence
    II. Cultural Fit
    III. Job Talent

    Employers do a…
    A. GREAT job of hiring competent employees, about 95%
    B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture, about 70%
    C. POOR job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job, about 20%

    Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
    I. Competence
    II. Cultural Fit
    III. Job Talent

    There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
    A. How do we define talent?
    B. How do we measure talent?
    C. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    D. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    E. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

    Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

    Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.

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