BUSINESS: Strategies

Address Staffing Troubles

Two hiring challenges are brought on by low unemployment

If you’re having trouble hiring staff, you’re certainly not alone. Politics aside, low unemployment rates make the labor pool smaller. It’s likely the next person you hire will already have a job vs. being unemployed. You might even be hiring someone from a local O.D. colleague, which brings us to our first employment challenge illustrated by this example:


The applicant presents a stellar resume. Her letters of recommendation are superb. She passes the background check and drug test. All is good until you notice her current employer is your local O.D. buddy who you just saw at a CE meeting last Thursday night! When you ask the applicant’s permission to contact previous employers for recommendations, she politely says, “Sure, except for my current boss, since I’m still working there. I’m sure you understand.”

You absolutely understand, and you absolutely have an ethical dilemma: Do you tell your friend his best optician is interviewing with you? Do you say nothing, and hire her? Or, do something else?

I opt for something else, with the “honesty is the best policy” axiom and this pretext:

The odds are that the optician is thinking of leaving your friend for a reason, whether it’s scheduling, money, lack of health insurance, the environment is too hectic or slow, etc. It’s important you try to tease out the reason(s), so you can respond with something like:

“I understand you’re looking to leave Dr. Current primarily because he doesn’t offer health insurance. We do offer it. However, you should know that Dr. Current is a close friend. I will respect your request to not contact him, however, if you really want to work here, and your primary motivation is health insurance, I’d ask you to make it perfectly clear to Dr. Current that in the event he doesn’t offer you health insurance, you’re going to leave. I want to unequivocally give him a choice to make you the same offer I’d make you. If, after doing that, he still doesn’t make the offer, I’d be willing to hire you. But be aware, this isn’t a decision I’m making lightly because Dr. Current and I are close colleagues.”

The assumption here is that if the interviewee is being truthful about her reason for leaving, she’ll be leaving your friend regardless of whether you offer her a position. If you didn’t offer health insurance, she’d likely keep looking.


The next challenge that’s coming up repeatedly is “ghosting.” Specifically, an applicant who makes an appointment for a job interview or even accepts a job and then completely disappears.

Specifically, after agreeing to a job interview at 1:15 p.m. next Monday, four more offers pop up in the next hour. Common courtesy is to call the prospective employer back and either cancel or reschedule the interview. But, when a floodgate of opportunities opens for applicants, they may start to feel that doing that is unnecessary and, eventually, that attitude becomes the norm.

The same thing is likely happening after a job is accepted. Simply, a better one comes up before the agreed start date.

The solution is to clearly tell the applicant, “Your interview is for next Friday morning. In the event you can’t make it or change your mind, please let us know right away, so we can offer the slot to someone else.” For job offers, “We’re happy you’ve accepted the position, and you’ll start next Monday. Of course, should anything happen between now and then that precludes you from coming to work, we require a phone call in advance.” OM