Hiring & Firing

Discussion in 'Senior Employment' started by Ken Anderson, May 16, 2018.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Jan 21, 2015
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    This isn't specifically about senior employment, but about employment in general, although it may apply to seniors as well. In the thread about facial and neck tattoos, there is a discussion about how people with these tattoos find work, and that got me thinking about hiring decisions that I have made, as part-owner of an ambulance company and program chairman with a state college.

    An ambulance company, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, makes most of its profit from non-emergency transfers, which are scheduled and either prepaid or covered by insurance. Transporting someone from a nursing home to a dialysis center and back three times a week resulted in six billable transports per week, and we could generally send one of our Basic Life Support ambulances for this transfer, which meant EMT-Basics rather than EMT-Paramedics, who would cost us more in wages.

    When patients became comfortable with a particular pair of EMTs, we tried to send the same people, as that built a relationship that might prevent them from calling another ambulance company instead. The downside of that is that these EMTs would sometimes take our patients with them when they went to work for a competing ambulance company. That was frowned upon in the industry, and EMTs who did that regularly might have trouble finding work with anyone other than an unscrupulous company. But we'd rather keep it from happening.

    Plus, of course, in emergencies as well as non-emergencies, we wanted medics who would look sharp and act professionally, as well as knowing how to do their job. I also wanted people who could get along with the rest of our employees. I wasn't alone in that, as there were excellent paramedics who had trouble finding work because no one wanted to work with them.

    Bringing this on topic, when we had openings, my preference would be to hire someone I knew. I had an advantage there because I had been teaching emergency medical technology for fifteen years, and had also worked for a couple of ambulance companies.

    Usually, I could fill a position by calling someone I knew and recruiting them. As a private company, we weren't required to advertise our openings. Since I was still teaching while I had the ambulance company, I could recruit my better students right out of class.

    But when we got a new contract, we might have to fill several positions at once, so we'd advertise them in trade publications.

    Having worked with other companies, and being personally familiar with the people who made the hiring decisions at pretty much every local company, I learned to nearly ignore the employment application, other than the list of other ambulance companies that had employed them. After all, I knew they were technically qualified because they held a licensure or certification at that level. I would check to be sure that these hadn't been revoked and that they were current, but that could be done with a phone call.

    Rather than checking references, I would interview the people who came in. Hopefully, there would be some that I could feel comfortable hiring on the spot. Otherwise, I would wait until after hours and call someone from the last company they worked with at home, unofficially, and ask them about the applicant. In some cases, they didn't want their current employer to know that they were looking elsewhere, so I'd call someone else who had worked with them.

    Concerned about litigation, no one would say anything bad about anyone who they had previously employed, even if they had fired them. They would simply state that he or she was qualified to do the job by virtue of their licensure or certification, or that they were no longer employed there. They might tell me if they would be eligible to be rehired. I would do the same if someone called me about an applicant. City services were at a disadvantage in some ways because they were required to make official inquiries only, and consequently received non-answers.

    I wasn't in the position to do the hiring with any of the paper bag plants I worked with, but I do know that they also preferred to recruit rather than advertise, and they would often call former co-workers for an opinion. There were several bag companies in the area and I have been called by the HR staff of some asking about a co-worker, and my own company would sometimes ask about an applicant who I had worked with before.

    When I was the program chairman at a state college, things were more formal. For one thing, they were required to advertise open positions unless the opening could be classified as an emergency need. I learned to play that one. My EMT, Intermediate and Paramedic programs were broken up into several courses, so I could create a few new courses or restructure the program, and hire someone I wanted as an emergency hire. They would still have to be vetted by HR but, since the position didn't have to be advertised, only those who I invited to apply would know about it.

    Otherwise, HR would interview the applicants, weeding some of them out under criteria that I'm not even sure about, and then send those who they considered qualified on to me to make the final decision. However, if they sent me only one person, I would have to hire them because they had already been vetted as qualified. If there were more applicants than positions, then I could decide. However, I could decide based on my interview alone. I didn't have access to their applications and I wasn't allowed to call anyone. Plus, I had to document the reason for whatever choice I made.

    I found a workaround to that, too. Having developed a good relationship with the Assistant Dean, who was my immediate supervisor, I could tell him who I wanted to hire and why, and he would support me in the decision

    In any position that I have interviewed someone for, I have never once called a listed reference.

    As for firing people, I could make a recommendation if I felt the need to fire someone at the college, but that wouldn't have been my decision. Fortunately, I never felt the need to do so, as I was happy with everyone who taught classes for me, whether full or part-time.

    At the ambulance company, there were a few, but I was usually able to encourage them to quit rather than be fired. That would save us from having to pay unemployment benefits and they wouldn't have to list it as a termination on resumes.
  2. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2018
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    We were obligated to call references by company policy, but got very little good info from it. The one key question we were allowed to ask of the previous employers was, "Are they eligible for re-hire at your company?". That was a simple question, and if the answer was "no answer" or "no", we generally didn't hire them. If it was an enthusiastic "Of course", it was big plus sign on the application. Demeanor and attitude during the interview was important as well. Company policy did not allow visible tattoos or piercings other than ears, so if the tattoo could be kept covered, it was fine, and piercings (jewelry) had to be removed or covered during work hours. No dangling earrings were allowed either for safety reasons.

    Firings were always "for cause" and well-documented. I seldom had to fire anyone, but documented and recommended for those either in HR or very high in the company. While hiring was done lower down the ladder, firing was always done at the highest levels to avoid abuse, to make sure it was warranted, and that all documentation was in place.
    Frank Sanoica likes this.

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