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Image courtesy: <a href="" target="_blank">Flickr/Julie Walraven</a>
Image courtesy: Flickr/Julie Walraven

Secrets to finding better jewellery staff

Finding the right staff is an ongoing battle for most retailers. COLEBY NICHOLSON shares his tips for how jewellers can weed out the time-wasters looking for ‘any old’ job.

One of the most common complaints made by small business owners is not being able to find the right staff. I have written before about how often I’m asked by suppliers, “Do you know a good sales rep looking for a job?”

My answer is always “No”, which is then quickly followed with, “because if they’re a good sales rep, they already have a job!”

Sourcing the right staff is no easy task for any operation, jewellery businesses included. I discovered many years ago that the ideal person one would like to employ is probably not looking for a job. They are satisfied in their current position and remunerated well by their employer.

What makes it more difficult to find good staff is that the digital age has made the task even more difficult because, unlike the era before the internet, applying for a job takes little to no effort.

Once upon a time – pre-online job sites – people had to actively search for work by purchasing a newspaper and scanning the classified ads. The job seeker would then have to not only prepare a specific job application but also buy a stamp and physically post it.

This took time, and the employer knew from the outset that the applicant had gone to some effort. The downside for the employer, however, was that filling positions was not a quick endeavour; think about the time involved in placing a newspaper advertisement, waiting for it to be published and then waiting even longer for the replies to come through via snail mail.

These days, the internet means someone can place an online job ad and start receiving applications almost immediately. I remember removing an accounting job ad on only a few hours after it was published because we had already received more than 100 applications.

The problem with online job ads is that many applications, if not most will be unsuitable – and, annoyingly, you only reach that conclusion after reading every single one! The fact that there is little time and effort required by the applicant to send you an email actually increases the time and effort required by you, the business owner, to read and review the resumes.

Wasting your time

Here’s the real problem, the advertiser, you, mistakenly thinks all applicants want to work for you or your business, when in most cases they only applied because they received an email alert from the job website telling them that a new position had been advertised.

Most job seekers sign up to automatic email alerts for new jobs in their chosen professions, which explains why applications can arrive so quickly after you’ve posted an ad. That is, the job seeker wasn’t actively on the site, they are responding to an email saying a job ad was just posted.

It also means the applicant made little effort to send documents that you are almost obligated to read. All they had to do was click on a few links, add their pre-prepared resume to an email and then push ‘send’.

Bingo – they have applied for a job!

But do they want to work for you? There’s a world of difference in applying for ‘any old’ job and truly wanting to work for a specific business in a specific profession, which becomes apparent when applicants don’t properly read ads.

I know most applicants don’t even read your well-crafted job ad because I have tested my own ads many times. We recently had an online job ad that stated, “Along with your resume, applicants must include a covering letter advising your desired salary and your earliest possible start date.”

The ad also noted in bold type: “Applications without the above information will not be considered.”

By asking applicants to do something specific in replying to the job ad meant that we could  weed out the time-wasters looking for ‘any old’ job (often to comply with Centrelink requirements) and/or people who didn’t carefully read the ad and take the time to respond to specific requests – after all, there’s no point employing someone who isn’t attentive.

Think about I; it was a simple and reasonable request: if you would like to work at this business please tell us when you can start the job and nominate your desired salary.

80-20 rule

So what happened? Well, 80 per cent of applicants submitted a resume without a covering letter, which the ad said was mandatory. Of the 20 per cent of applicants who did include a covering letter, about half did not answer the questions – probably because, like the resume, a pre-prepared letter was simply attached to an email.

Was this unusual? No. It’s pretty much the same story every time; most job seekers click on an ad, go straight to the ‘reply’ link, attach the resume they prepared for any job and then send you an email application. In most cases the applicant doesn’t want to work for you or your business, they just want to get a paying job.

But you want professional, dedicated and enthusiastic staff.

There is good news, however! By following a similar process to that outlined can reduce your workload simply by deleting the applications without covering letters, which by my experience will be the majority. Then, by deleting applications from those who did not answer those perfectly reasonable questions in order to land a job, you’re further reducing your valuable time.

What about those who have (hopefully) considered the position properly and applied correctly?

They are then easily whittled down further by evaluating expected salaries. So, if potential staff will not go out of their way to demonstrate that they want to work for you, then a quick ‘delete’ saves a lot of valuable time and heartache.

Coleby Nicholson

Former managing editor • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson was publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine for over 12 years. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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