AINsight: Hiring? Do it by Design, Not Default

 - June 17, 2021, 5:59 PM

As the U.S. economy opens up, many professionals are looking for a career change. In fact, job changes are at their highest level since 2000, according to the Wall Street Journal. And business aviation is not immune to these changes.

While there are some unemployed aviation professionals as a result of Covid-19 downsizing, I’d venture to say that there’s a bit of a “reshuffling” going on. And it’s only going to get more competitive as the demand for talent quickly increases. Is your flight department experiencing departures?

If you do start to fill vacant spots, hire by “design” not “default.” In other words, don’t “post and pray” and rely on a job posting to attract talent. This is the “default” strategy—relying on the available talent versus going out and searching for the exact talent you need. Be sure to push yourself beyond your immediate network and broaden your scope to include names you don’t necessarily recognize.

Don’t just hire someone across the field whose airplane was just sold. While it feels great to be a hero by helping them out, they might not necessarily be great fit for your company, especially for the long run. The only way you will know is to conduct some very discerning interviews and research before extending an offer.

Often, when one loses a job, they quickly react and their next job can be a “bridge job” to fill the gap. So they may not stay beyond one or two years. If someone is a short-timer, will they be a net contributor by raising and improving your culture? Or will they be a net detractor by lamenting their old job and not having their head in the game? Be sure you dive deep into their motivations and long-term desires.

Following are recommendations to help ensure that your next hiring decision is a strategic one:

Determine your needs. Do you have a spot-on job description that identifies the skills, talents, and abilities that are must-haves? For instance, if you need someone to run your safety program, you’ll be looking for experience and passion—someone who wakes up, wanting to live and breathe safety. Not someone who has to learn on the job. If your candidate doesn’t check the box for every must-have, you are hiring the wrong individual.

Another important aspect of identifying your needs is reevaluating your succession plan before executing a new hire. Do you need plug-and-play talent? A young candidate who can be developed into a future leader? Or do you have the option to hire an FO who can be even further developed? Consider your immediate, three-, and five-year needs.

Use a hiring scorecard. A hiring scorecard is a checklist of the skills, traits, and qualifications a candidate must have to succeed on the job. And it’s a document that takes subjectivity out of the decision-making process, keeping you focused on skills not just gut feel.

An effectively designed scorecard can prevent your hiring decision from being affected by outside factors. It can keep you from gravitating toward one comfortable candidate, despite the fact that he or she lacks some of the must-have skills.

Reference checks. One of the most critical steps in the hiring process is to do due diligence. Why? Because 58 percent of employers have caught a lie on a resume, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Which only makes one wonder: how many were not caught? Allow enough time to investigate a candidate’s background and experience. Be sure to always check references.

Turnover-related expenses. Getting lulled into making an “easy” hiring decision can be costly unless the candidate truly meets your needs. After all, the cost to replace a bad hire can be as much as five times their annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resources Management.

Here’s a list of turnover-related expenses to consider:

  • Exit costs, such as paying sick leave or vacation for the departing employee.
  • Recruiting costs, such as advertising, HR/recruiter salary, travel expenses.
  • Hiring costs related to background checks and drug tests.
  • Relocation costs, such as a moving stipend or relocation package.
  • Training costs related to technical or type-ratings, plus travel expenses during training.
  • On-the-job costs may include training for flight-planning services, electronic flight bag usage, safety management system training, upset recovery, emergency procedures, medical/first-aid, security, OSHA, and hangar safety.
  • Wages may increase if you need to attract the same level of quality talent.
  • Cultural impact costs, such as other employees starting to wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else.
  • Contract costs if you need to retain a temporary employee to fulfill short-term hiring needs.

One last thing. During the onboarding process, consider showing the new employee his/her hiring scorecard. Doing so demonstrates to the employee that your hiring decision wasn’t based on whimsy. It shows that you have confidence in their abilities. And it sets clear expectations for their success.

Sheryl Barden, CAM, is the president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, the longest-running recruiting and HR consulting firm exclusively serving the needs of business aviation. A thought leader on all things related to business aviation professionals, Barden serves on NBAA’s board of directors and is chair of the NBAA advisory council.