Short-Sighted Hiring Could Derail Momentum
Monday February 7th, 2011 - 1:22PM
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NEW YORK— One critical takeaway from President Obama’s State of the Union: Don’t get too excited about the growing economy until lingering high unemployment is resolved.
Both sides applauded the focus on job growth in the president’s address, even if his plan for job creation remains sketchy. The president cited investment by businesses in 2010 as a catalyst for a new hiring bloom on top of the 1 million-plus private-sector jobs created last year.
Housewares retailers, suppliers and affiliates no doubt are among the businesses that could be poised for a new wave of hiring to support revived growth initiatives.
Hiring expert Johnny Laurent, vp of Sage North America, which markets human resources management systems, noted in the aftermath of the State of the Union that small- and mid-sized businesses— vital to the housewares industry— have to be careful not to revert to hiring practices that might be short-sighted for a marketplace in renewal.
“Business owners must have a strategy and vision for the future and match that in how they recruit and hire new staff,” Laurent said. “No longer is it acceptable to just hire the person with the best skills to satisfy today’s needs in the workplace. Newly hired staff should help businesses satisfy today’s needs but also be able to help businesses implement strategies and realize goals in the future as well.”
Sure, Laurent is looking to peddle his company’s human resources software solutions. But he makes a pretty salient point.
The talent pool is as deep as it ever has been for the housewares industry. It is overflowing, in fact, with experienced professionals cast aside by a downsizing recession and post-graduates that have been circling a fogged-in job market with no place to land.
The Best Value
It has all the makings of a buyer’s market for employers. Even so, buyer beware. Like consumers expecting a big sale on cookware, it makes sense to try to get the best price for new employees. Don’t do it at the expense of the best value.
You’ll likely have your pick, for example, of fledgling technology specialists. Don’t be dazzled only by their ability to build and maintain spiffy web sites and server networks. Identify those who know how to custom-fit such technical prowess to the sales and marketing culture of an organization so its sellers and marketers can be even more effective at selling and marketing. That’s a difference maker.
Speaking of sales and marketing: Target those who can transform a portfolio of items into an integrated solution for long-term customer satisfaction, not just short-term sales quotas.
The next wave of retail buyers can’t just be buyers. Whether vendors like it or not, buyers need to be inventory managers, global product developers and spreadsheet experts. Just don’t forget to ask them if they have an interest in merchandising.
Today’s job applicants are sure to brag about their all-encompassing social networking charm. Make sure they excel at connecting with people face to face, too.
I’ve been fortunate to meet many newcomers destined for the next generation of housewares industry and retailing leadership. I am often impressed not just by how they excel at a given skill, but also by their enthusiasm, ambition and expanded point of view. They see beyond the task immediately in front of them— that they’re an integral part of a company’s bigger vision.
They don’t just like their jobs. They like their business. For the state of this industry, that’s who you want to hire.
Dissecting what Ron Johnson got wrong during his brief, calamitous term at the helm of J.C. Penney is sure to be the focal point of retail strategy and tactics lessons for years to come. But Penney’s future could still hinge to some extent on what he got right.