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HUMAN RESOURCES

How to Fill a Job Nobody Wants

The experts weigh in with strategies on how to hire for a less-than-desirable position.

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While the economic news these days offers more questions than answers, one thing remains relatively constant: the unemployment rate, which is still stuck at around 9 percent. Seems that all those folks who lost their jobs over the past few years can't seem to find someone willing to hire them. But that begs another question: How come you as a small business owner are having such a hard time filling your own open position?

The truth is, you know the job isn't the most glorious position ever conceived (think data entry, cold calls, or maybe even secretarial duties) but still – it's a job, right? Well maybe, but it might be worth your time to think about how and where you go looking to fill that position rather than just taking a "post it and they will come" mentality. After all, the more effective you are in finding someone who actually wants to do the job you're offering, the more everyone wins.

With that goal in mind, here are some tips about how to go about filling that pesky open position at your company.

1. Be Honest

You want to avoid the mistake of what could be called "putting lipstick on a pig," says Bruce Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, where you try to build up a job to be something it isn't. "My advice is to paint an accurate picture of all the negatives," he says. "Candidates will respect your honesty, will like being treated with respect and will find the idea of having an honest boss with a sense of humor very appealing."

Joey Price, an HR specialist in Washington, D.C., agrees, saying that you should provide realistic job expectations in the job description and throughout the interview process. "You must be clear with the volume of work, pace of work, and any other details that others find unappealing," Price says. This ensures retention since different personality types view tasks very differently. Perhaps the culture of the workplace is full of just one personality type. Seeking someone who sees the job in a different light helps ensure that the job is done with a smile."

2. Look in Different Places


If you are having trouble filling a position, it might just be a symptom that you're not looking in the right places, says Abby Kohut, a veteran human resources recruiter, manager and consultant. She points to a mortician as an example of a position where 99.5 percent of people would not be interested in filling. Yet, if you know where to look, you might find more than a few people who would love it.

"I believe that even if a job is undesirable to most, there are people that are not only willing and able to do it but who would actually enjoy it," says Kohut. "Trying to pay someone who doesn't want to do the job more money as an incentive to do the job is not the right approach. Continuing to look for the right person is." That means don't just settling on posting an opening on Monster.com, she says, but tapping into social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. She also suggests looking for bloggers who are interested in the subject matter related to the job you're looking to fill. "To find the needle in the haystack, one has to first be looking in the right haystack," Kohut says.

3. Make It Temporary


If the problem with your open position is that you tend to experience high turnover within it – perhaps because its tedious or boring or comes with an unreasonably high workload – then you might want to consider making it a temporary six-month position says Robin Fischman, a health coach and veteran of the staffing industry. Temporary employees can be an excellent way to go when filling a hard to fill job because it becomes a, "try before you buy experience for both employee hopeful and company," says Catherine Pistole, founder of thetempfactor.com.

4. Show the Value

Many times candidates will reject jobs because they don't want to be a mere cog in the machine. Most employees crave recognition and the notion that their work makes a difference. That's why an important part of filling a tough open position is to tell candidates what makes the job there are interviewing for so important, says Fischman. She points to data entry as the type of job that few people actively seek, but that plays a key role in any company. "It may end up being important further down the road but at least you can communicate that this tedious data entry will be used by the directors of the company to assess the productivity of the brands, or that the information that will be used for a company wide initiative," she says. "The goal should be for people to see what value they are adding by doing the job."

5. Tout the Perks


While the candidate might not love the job, they may be willing to trade some of that off for different perks, such as, say, reimbursing approved college or professional classes, says Bettina Seidman, head of Seidbet Associates, a career counseling and performance coaching firm. Seidman also suggests mapping out a specific career path for the candidate that would lead to more compelling positions down the road.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions, which is based in Northampton, Massachusetts, says that you may be able to find interested candidates if you show them how something that could be seen as negative could actually be a perk in disguise. "Like most things in life, it's all about the marketing," says Matuson. "I'm not suggesting you should lie about the position, but certainly there must be some benefits associated with a particular job that would be appealing to job seekers. For example, suppose you have a position that requires coming in at 6:00 AM. You can focus on the fact that you'll avoid rush hour traffic and you'll be home in time to help your kids with their homework."

6. Divide and Conquer

There may be some jobs at your company like doing inventory, cleaning the coffee room or restrooms and answering the phones, that either don't warrant a full-time position even if you could find someone willing to do the job, says Sandra Lamb, a career, lifestyle, and etiquette expert. That's why she suggests dividing the job into parts - either by creating half-day coverage slots, or dividing it into segments that you can assign to your existing employees. "If everyone has to do part of the ‘undesirables,' and only briefly, it becomes palatable," Lamb says. "It can even build camaraderie and a friendly competition."

7. Outsource

If you have tried all the tips above and still can't seem to find someone willing to take the paycheck, maybe it's time to start looking to partner with an outside firm or individual instead. A simple Google search or a conversation with a peer could reveal that there are companies and services available to meet your needs at a price less than you would pay an employee. For example, you could hire a virtual assistant for your business through a business like Rent A Smile, which offers expertise in tasks such as administrative support (email handling, word processing), social media management (blogs, facebook fan pages), and research and marketing support (live chat, order taking), for plans starting at $200 a month, says Nikunj Mittal, Rent A Smile's CEO.

Last updated: Sep 8, 2010

DARREN DAHL

Darren Dahl is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, North Carolina.




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