Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Small Business HR Case Study

My husband has had a tough week. He's launching a product at CES next week, and to make the deadline, the factory in China shipped 50 prototypes early. Unassembled. To him, and not to the finishing guy in LA. So he needs assembly help - and he needs it fast. He posted an ad for technical assemblers on Craigslist, and thus started a quick HR challenge.

First: there was the volume issue. 100 responses in a little over 2 hours on a holiday week is an unfortunate comment about the unemployment situation in the Bay Area. Or maybe he set the hourly rate too high. In any case, he needed a quick way to sort. So we had a chat about hiring criteria and goals. Since this was a short term project, he gave priority to skills, work history, time of response, and location.

Second: there were SO MANY errors and issues with the resumes. With such a high volume, if the resume didn't meet a quick scan test, it was quickly moved to the 'pass' pile. Even within the initial 'consider' pile, there were a lot of resume basics that hadn't been met, and that became an additional screening criteria. A few reminders, if you are job-hunting:
  1. Name your resume something other than "resume.doc". Name it "gretchenalarcon2009resume.doc" or "Alarcon_resume.doc". Give the recruiter/manager an easy way to find it if they download to a file.
  2. Contact info goes at the top. This should be obvious, but there were several resumes that had the contact info in the email and only the name in the doc. Don't assume the cover letter and resume will always be together.
  3. If you have a 2-page resume, add your name and contact info to the header/footer on each page. Again, don't assume multiple pages will stay together.
  4. Make sure the contact information is for a phone/email that you will check frequently. If I can't reach you, I can't hire you.
  5. Spell check. Seriously.
Third: How do you pay these people? As an independent contractor, he usually works with other independents. Could he treat these people the same? Would they need a 1099? Would they have to be w-2 employees? The IRS site didn't have anything obvious on this, and it took over an hour of searching to confirm that he had the right forms.

Here's a hiring manager who wants to do right thing, and has a former HR manager to help him, and it still required research and planning, both of which he didn't really have time to do. There's a reason why we have employment laws, but without an easy way to find them or review them, I suspect many businesses are unknowingly out of compliance. This was a one-off, and I don't think he'll be hiring again any time soon. However, it's a wake up call for me to look into some small company HR options. Any recommendations out there for the small business owner? Specifically for sole-proprietorships that don't have staff on an ongoing basis?

[img: Whatknot]


Anonymous said...

My only "hiring" experience has been a Nanny where I used a service (http://www.breedlove-online.com/). Maybe there is something similar for this kind of work.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you for sharing your story. I know i'm late in my response but when I read your challenges as a small business owner, it is a great confirmation of the work that I'm currently doing for small businesses HR will be much needed. There are options outhere but certainly hard to find.