New Challenges in Hiring

By: Don Tyler, Tyler & Associates

Staffing a feedlot has been difficult for many years and that challenge will persist for some time. Differentiating the candidates with the best fit from those that are mediocre would be much easier if we could ask questions about their current health status, how much work they have missed in the last year, or if they have adequate child care. Just to clarify… No, you cannot legally ask these types of questions.

In addition to these limitations, former employers are restricted in the type of information they can provide on past employees. It would be great if we could ask references questions like, “Are they honest?” “Are they hard on equipment?” “Do they have a pickup that will go more than 5 miles without breaking down?” This information is considered private and discriminatory if revealed by a former employer.

Now there is a new challenge to the hiring process—avoiding the animal welfare activist who tries to get a job solely for the purpose of misrepresenting our industry. It would be great if we could ask, “Are you one of those animal rights whackos trying to come into my operation, create some fake videos, and put them on the internet so you can use them to make millions of dollars for your so-called charity?” Once again… No, you cannot legally ask this question.

Here is what you can do… You can use the same social media that they use to disparage our industry, to investigate them. Social media and internet search engines are a wealth of information on these groups and in some ways has made getting background information much easier. The people that participate in these activities tend to like personal publicity, and will tell anyone and everyone their personal opinions.

Go on social media—Facebook, Google, Twitter, Linked In, etc. It is amazing what people are willing to post on these sites about their personal lives and interests. Their desire to passionately promote their personal opinions should show up either prominently or vaguely with a quick review of these online coffee shops. While they express their views on topics they also reveal their core values, character and priorities.

We must also use a robust Job Application form. Be sure to ask if they have ever gone by a different name, and allow ample space so they can share all past work experiences. Along with the standard questions about skills, certifications, qualifications, education, etc. be sure to include space for all references and all the contact information that can be used to reach this person or company. Get e-mail, cell phones, mailing address, business phone, best time to reach them, type of reference and if they are related to the applicant. This form must also have a signature line that states, under penalty of perjury, that the information they are providing is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge. This may allow you to pursue perjury charges in the event that one of these individuals provided false information and gets past the cautions that you have in place.

When developing a Job Application form consult a labor attorney for what is legally acceptable in your state.

Be sure to check references, and confirm that their references are actual employers or supervisors—and not their college roommate. Take the time to research the company they claim to have worked for if you are not personally familiar with that business.

Be wary of an applicant that is very overqualified for the position, someone who says they “just want to see how things are done in this kind of business…” or someone who simply doesn’t fit the part. Some will even volunteer to work for no pay, or ask to work for only a few months. Other warning signs are someone with a new driver’s license, or someone that is very hard to get any background information on.

A general rule of thumb is, use at least as much diligence in selecting employees, as you do picking your next herd bull!

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