My Latest (And Final?) Hiring Epiphany

I’ve recently evolved into what I think will be my final form as a hiring manager.

Here’s what I mean.

When I first started at Kaser, there were three of us: Stan in the blast booth, Chauncey in powder, and myself. Collectively, we had little experience in the finishing industry. If we were going to grow, we needed industry veterans, and we needed them right away. My only hiring criteria at that time was previous experience. Luckily, Jay Wills came aboard with years of powder coating under his belt, and set us on the right track. He remains our main sprayer to this day.

After several strategic hires and a few more years’ experience of my own, I switched into phase 2 of my hiring career. The workload was picking up steam, and I had all the experts I needed – I just needed more hands. Any warm body would do. I was hiring everyone who showed any interest whatsoever in the job, whether or not they’d done it before. Some of those hires stuck around; most did not.

It quickly became clear to me that not everyone was up to the physical demands of the powder shop. The new hires who left in their first week almost always did so for the same reason: it was too hot, the parts were too heavy, and the work was too exhausting.

So once again, I changed my hiring tactics. I started looking for people who enjoyed manual labor, because I thought that was the key to longevity at Kaser. Farm kids, detasselers, folks who’d worked outdoors their whole lives – I prioritized any candidate who told me they preferred to break a sweat at work.

That served me fairly well for a while, but it wasn’t quite enough. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered the missing piece of my hiring strategy.

Yes, experience is great, and yes, a history of manual labor helps a lot; but what I want more than anything at this point is to hire people who fit in to the Kaser culture.

I need new hires’ values to align with ours. They don’t need to know anything, as long as they’re curious. They don’t need previous experience, as long as they pay attention to detail. They don’t need to be superheroes, they just need to have character.

I want to hire the person who pushes themselves. I want to hire the person who shows up when they say they will. I want to hire the person who wears PPE because they know it’s safer, and not just because they’ll get fired if they don’t. I want to hire the person who will do the right thing, even when no one is looking.

Everything else can be taught.



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