Why one company puts skills first Email
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 08:00 PM


Skilled workers have an an advantageWhile only 10% of ALCC Fast Friday poll respondents value skills more than character, they are informed dissenters who speak with conviction based on many years of experience in the industry. Below is one business owner’s position on why skills are No. 1.

As a small business owner, my hiring priority is job skills. Always.

As the owner of a seasonal small business, I cannot afford to rehire a month after first hire or rehire after July 4th when you find out that that great personality with impeccable integrity and charisma who's always 10 minutes early had no idea how hot it would be working on his knees 6 to 8 hours a day. The decision is made to "go back to waiting tables."

Dollars deliver skills
I can afford to be job skills focused because I pay high dollars to begin with and tell new hires that they'll either be worth $2 more in two weeks or not be what we need. I advertise in classifieds at www.alcc.com and Craig's List. I specify that volunteer gardening does not count and that "knowledge in production planting of annuals" does not mean planting petunias for your grandmother.

Between a specific set of skills and a high beginning wage, my ads always bring in a higher caliber of applicant and usually someone who feeds their family by working in the green industry. I never advertise how much I pay, but I do bait the ad with "higher than industry average wages to start.”

It’s rare to get a perfect candidate. But I have had a good response.

If you know your own job and interview well, then you will likely get an employee who goes the distance, is financially invested in their job and will want to rise to the occasion in the arenas where individual skills might be soft.

This has worked for me. But I have also paid the price a few times and learned that character/personality never trumps knowledge about working outdoors in the heat. Never.

Know who drives the bus
If a business owner does not know what it costs to hire and train, then he or she will think the labor market dictates their employment practices. And that's not true.

I have often heard fellow business owners share their challenges of trying to keep employees until the end of the season. So often they’ve been looking for people in mid-July, late August and then again at the end of the season when people were burned out.

Instead, I think they would do better by giving their people another raise and praising them for "going the distance" to garner more loyalty and more energy to finish big.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
What’s the trump card – skills or character?
When skills trump character
Mi Casa is resource for Denver metro employers
Building green: Colorado trees could be new construction resource

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