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Unique skills helpful when hiring

Hiring good employees requires employers to channel some interesting professions themselves. It helps if you can be part psychologist, part psychic, part mad scientist and part witchdoctor.

OK, it may not be quite that dramatic, but building a team and surrounding them with good people is an absolute key to success.

This is also one of the most challenging things to do in today’s climate.

Getting a great feel for a potential employee after a few short conversations and a little bit of time spent perusing a heavily edited synopsis of their work history is anything but an exact science.

That is where channeling those aforementioned archetypes becomes critical.

First, being an amateur psychologist is critical because it is often the soft skills — work ethic, punctuality, commitment, loyalty, drive — that separates one individual from his or her peers. The hard skills are far easily more easily measured and require less psychoanalyzing and scrutiny of personality traits.

It certainly helps if you are psychic too because then you can see the future and know what decisions to make. It would be nice if foresight was 20-20.

This would make the hiring process far easier but, unfortunately, most of us have yet to master this skill.

Perhaps the most overlooked component of hiring somebody is chemistry.

That’s where it takes a mad scientist mentality to envision how all the parts work together and what components are needed to jell with an existing team. The wrong combination can blow up in your face like a classic cartoon. The white lab coat is optional.

But, even if you have all these other skills, finding the right employee still seems to come down to fate and circumstance. It sometimes feels like you need to be a witchdoctor to read the tea leaves, do a rain dance or say the right prayer. You can do everything right and still come out with a negative outcome.

Here in Jessamine County, where employment hovers around 4 percent, hiring quality employees can certainly be a challenge for a host of reasons.

First, of that 4 percent, some percentage is simply unemployable or have no interest in actually getting a job. At least a third of applications for any given position, especially those posted online, seem to be far more about the individual meeting unemployment requirements than seeking employment.

Second, the drug problem that has reached epidemic proportions across the country poses a significant challenge. As soon as you mention drug screenings some potential employees clearly start sweating.

Third, in many cases salary expectations are out of line with the current market and the economy. Individuals coming out of college expect to make $50,000 or $60,000 a year immediately rather than working their way up from an entry-level position.

So, how do we address this?

Jessamine County and the surrounding area have a strong workforce and offer many great people, but more can likely be done to help develop it and provide training to meet the needs of our employers.

We applaud R.J. Corman and others for their work to create specialized education programs designed specifically to meet the needs of our local businesses and industry.

This can truly become a model for future success as companies want to hit the ground running when locating in a community or expanding its operation.

Another opportunity would be to develop basic education courses or programs that can help educate potential or even current employees about proper behavior, workplace etiquette, professional expectations and more.

Although hiring will never be easy, we have built a strong foundation here in Jessamine County. Now we need to keep adding proverbial bricks by working to prepare our citizens to be the best employees possible.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at mike.caldwell@jessaminejournal.com.