weeding out employment applications

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by grassmasterswilson, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Platinum Member
    from nc
    Messages: 4,945

    So I placed an internet ad looking for some help. I did the normal description... duties mowing, trimming, pruning, etc. hot hard work. must lift heavy things. etc etc.

    I've gotten a few email responses. Are there some specific questions I could ask that may weed out some guys? I know there are some questions you can't legally ask, but in our industry age is a big factor (one guy was 56). I could ask about experience and references since we maintain some high end properties.

    I've had help in the past, but I personally knew them. Just curious what my next step is without wasting so much time with interviews or guys that just don't work out.
  2. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,131

    As far as the questions you can't legally ask, check into how the questions differ for different job descriptions. Here if you put in the job description that they will be required to drive company vehicles and accept customer payments it opens up a lot more questions that you can ask about their past. Even if they will never accept a payment, having it listed that they will will work. Here we can't ask age or age/dob as part of the application but ways around it is to include background check paperwork in the application, background check paperwork can ask date of birth. You don't have to do the background check, another trick for age is to ask for date of graduation. work references here are iffy, a past employer is limited on what they can tell someone calling for a reference, for the most part they can only say employment dates and pay. Even if the job candidate signed permission to check references, past employers have to be extreamly careful of what they say to avoid law suits. We can list lifting capacities, such as lifting 50 pounds or 80 lbs. The biggest questions to avoid here are anything to do with family, can't ask are you married or have children or planning it in the future.
  3. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    You know, I'm a traditionalist in the sense that if an employment ad asks for a resume, with a cover letter, references and a drivers abstract....I do expect to receive what I have asked for.
    It shows that people can follow directions, first of all.

    Newspaper ads are way too expensive to run. I have used on line services like Kajiji and Craig's list. Unfortunately, most of the replies are from idiots.

    Most of the time we receive only a one page resume, with no cover letter that introduces the candidate....no drivers abstract which tells us if they are capable of responsibly using company vehicles, ....no references, so we can't call and ask if the respondent actually worked for the reference or are they lieing? (We can only ask "would the reference hire them back?")

    Another thing with sites like CL is that if a person doesn't agree with what you are advertising, whether they be a potential employee or a competitor... all they have to do is flag your ad and it's gone automatically....even if you haven't breached any terms of use.

    As for age, my mind is sharp but my body doesn't want to climb trees every day.

    Hire experienced older people that fit your business model. They are in most cases more reliable and can be a positive addition to the job.

    Have the younger people do the repetitive and strenuous work. Perhaps the older people would make good on site working supervisors that drive the big mowers and trim?

    Me? I'll always see myself as a 24 year old, but my mirror says otherwise.

    My company is an equal opportunity employer.
    Some of my best landscape maintenance employees have been women.

    If you want better employees with horticultural knowledge, you have to advertise to your demographic. Trade schools, industry associations, government employment sites, unemployment office websites, etc.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  4. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 845

    One good tip is use free services for employment if available. For instance one year, I put an ad in with the state employment office. In my state, they will even allow you to use their office for interviews. As far as what you can't ask, it has already been covered above for the most part. You can get fairly good at weeding people our over the phone. Often times they weed themselves out without you having to ask them questions. lol. If you just let them talk, you often get more than you want to hear.
    The biggest thing you can do is require someone with a driver's license, require a background check, and a driving record. If you are looking for a LEADER or future foreman/crew leader, you will want someone that can drive and won't make your truck ins go sky high, and you probably don't want to hire someone with certain felony convictions. Those 3 things alone weeds out many applicants. AND, even if you don't do it, put on the applications that they may be subject to drug testing.
    I also tend to shy away from the ones that have been laid off from a job that is totally unrelated to this field. Like an accountant that was laid off, even though they may have a good work ethic, probably wouldn't last. You will train them, and they will be looking for another job related to their field.
    The best thing I have found to do, especially with inexperienced workers, and you can't always do this, but it works without hurting feelings and without you obligating yourself to some long term misery, is tell them you are looking for a part-time/PRN employee that could possibly lead to full time position in a short period. Hire the person, tell them you have extra work coming in and you need them for a couple of days this week. Then tell them, you don't know what will be available after this week. Work them for a day or two, and you will know what their potential is in a few hours. If you think they can make it, then tell them that some other jobs have come in and we can make this a full time position starting next week. Seems to work good, especially with someone that is currently unemployed.
  5. JBNC

    JBNC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 200

    That could keep some people from applying for the job. Unless I was desperate, I would never apply to a job that sounded that flaky in the description. The best thing to do is have a 90 day probationary period...if they work out great, if not then you can let them go.

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