Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The joys of hiring staff

Once in a while, when running a business, it's necessary to hire staff. That can be fraught with a whole range of issues. It's amazing how many interviews end with the applicants discounting themselves from the process. Let's have a look at several that applied for a position as a facepainter back from when my business was going to branch out into facepainting and photography.

The concept was simple enough. My business already had a business license. The venue had liability coverage. The venue was a Barnyard Flea Market where stall rental was a mere $15 a day - which my business would have covered as a business expense. All the facepainter had to do was to show up and paint faces. My business would provide the photographs both as a 6x4 print on the spot and larger sizes downloadable from the internet. This was not about making a profit - this was about advertising.

A nominal fee would have been charged in order to cover expenses (and a bit of money for the facepainter) but other than that it was free advertising for both the facepainter and the photographer. Thus, the advert went onto Craigslist and into the University of South Carolina Careers Office for a facepainter with the stipulation the facepainter had to be local. It was even made more attractive for the facepainter by calling it casual work so that they were responsible for declaring their income and paying their own taxes.

Four applications were received from Craigslist. None were ever received from USC students. Of those four, they ranged from awful to abysmal:
  1. Applicant number one rang to book an appointment and then on the due day, half an hour in advance, cancelled and asked for a new date. She was given a new date. Half an hour before the due time on the new date, she rang and cancelled and asked for a further date. She was given a further date. Half an hour before, she rang to change the date upon which she was informed that as she could not make 3 interview dates, it was highly unlikely that she'd be able to show up for work. She began to argue which was when the call was terminated. Thank Heavens she never rang back.
  2. Applicant number two - the interview went well - then half way through the interview she announced she was a lesbian. Well, so what? What did that have to do with facepainting, photography, a business relationship or the price of tea in China? She was quite promising otherwise and swore she had face paints. Needless to say, a day before we were due to go and start work, she texted to say "I don't think this is going to work out for me. I'm not coming". 
  3. Applicant number three - she was so far away she would have had to drive for an hour just to get to the venue. Clearly she had not read the stipulation about needing to be "local".
  4. Applicant number four - she interviewed well and was ordering her facepaints later in the day. Every time she was asked had her facepaints arrived, they never had. Quite what the score was there, is really unclear.
So, what on earth can one make of all that? As one friend said "You can't give work away". It wouldn't have been documented. It would have made them some money. It would have been great advertising for both of us. It was entirely up to them if they paid their taxes. I'd have paid mine but wouldn't have "employed" them officially - merely paid for their services. 

It can't be that all facepainters are complete flakes. It can't be that all women are flakes. The problem is probably more basic than that - people just are not prepared to work. People are not prepared to put effort into doing things for themselves to build toward the future. People want to be spoon fed all the time. Those four people (and others) wasted an entire summer during which two people could have happily been doing facepainting and photography, making a little money but crucially building business relationships with the public and getting into the mind of the public. 

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