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Over the years, many business owners have asked me about hiring employees. This is a basic question that goes to the long-term goals of your business.
If yours is a small machine shop and you want to add an employee to help with the growing overload of jobs, then you want someone with specific experience on the machines your have in your shop. But if you are looking for an employee to "grow with" you might look in another direction.
Basic skills are necessary in any employee. You always want someone who can read and write, do basic math, get to work on time, and gets along well with others. That said, I have learned the hard way that a college degree does NOT always mean that you hire the person who comes looking for a job.
College degrees are a dime a dozen these days. They have come to mean very little in the real world of business. Of course, a degree in economics means that the person has passed certain levels of knowledge. He or she can regurgitate, but can he or she think their way out of a paper bag?
I have hired many employees in the past who did not know how to operate the equipment I wanted them to run. But the person was bright-eyed, creative, anxious and willing to be a good contributor to the company. I could teach them to do what I wanted them to do every day, providing they had the basics for me to work with.
Example: Mary runs a flower shop. She designs flower arrangements herself and has a couple of helpers who finish the arrangements. The time came when she needed to hire a full-time designer. Neither of the helpers expressed any interest in design, so Mary went looking for a new employee. To her surprise, she found a graphic designer whose creativity perfectly matched the needs of the flower shop. Mary realized that she was hiring a creative person--not a floral designer who had years of experience. Mary worked with the new employee to bring her up to speed in floral design.
Hiring a new employee is not to be taken lightly. Bringing a new person into your operation will change the makeup of the business. When you sift through the applications of new people, make certain you are looking for the right combination of skills and experience.
Neither my mother nor my father finished high school. But both of them learned to think, to face reality and figure out solutions to problems. It is the most valuable trait you look for in new employees.