Let me first cop to a prejudice: So far, in my career as an employer, I have only severely overqualified people to work at my stores. Our first employee, part time, was finishing up a degree in fashion marketing. When she graduated,and left us at the end of the summer following her graduation, I hired a last year student in education. She now teaches math and science to high school students, but still came back for the entire summer, and will take any shift we have going, as long as it doesn't conflict with her school schedule. The girl who replaced her is beginning med school this semester (she left us mid summer to actually have a bit of fun before become a doctor). I hired her sister, who has an undergraduate in Science, taught English in Korea and is beginning a Masters in Nursing next week. That's all at one store. At the other store, the big one, the one where we run 2 shifts a day all summer, 9 to 9, 7 days a week, I have 2 MBA students from the John Molson School of Business, several undergraduate students who are double majoring in any combination of interesting and hard subjects....
Why I am telling you this. To admit to a prejudice. Maybe it comes from my own experience as a university student who held down two jobs to pay the rent, but I think that University students make great employees. In general, they are motivated, they know who to juggle their schedules, and they are usually struggling to make ends meet, so they are hungry for a pay check. Also, they *get it*. They get the computer system, the logic of inventory maintenance, etc. I have hired graphic design students and art majors too: they tend to do a fabulous job with window design, help out with the website, do a bang up job of displaying products in the store. It works for me.
This summer, we were on a major hiring binge, needing to fill several positions at the big store. I got all kinds of resumes. We only interviewed university students or university-tracked students. I didn't hire people who have worked at stores for years. Yes, they have the experience, but it's just not right for me. I can't explain it.
But then, we opened the new store and it's in the middle of suburbia. We put out ads on-line, in the paper, in the window of the store. And the applicants, they were not what I was looking for. Mature women who couldn't email me their resume because they don't know how. That can't work for me: we run part of the business on-line and the cash is 100% computer-run, I can't teach you how to use a computer. But there was this one applicant who wrote me a really heart-felt email. She was a 23 y.o. professional waitress with a high school degree. Long story short, she was quit perseverant in getting and interview and I decided to set aside my prejudice and hite her. Along with my typical university student candidate and a 16 year old, who is by far the youngest person I've EVER hired. But I only need her one night and one weekend day, so it's really a perfect team.... not so much.
There were a few hiccups during the first week, mostely to do with her incessant smoking breaks. But she was quite a hard worker during the set up phase and so we just asked her to curtail the smoking breaks to be fair to the rest of the staff.
On the Sunday, the 4th day that we were open, about her 10th day of work, she was almost an hour late. Didn't call to warn she was going to be late, just strolled in wearing the outfit from the day before, looking like she had partied very hard. And then, she took a 15 minute smoking break because she "really needed it".... Hubs was quite mad. This was the first time ever that we had an employee show up late without calling to tell us. He took her aside and asked her why she was late and how did she feel she could start her day with a break. She went on to explain that because she knew both hubs and I were there and the weather wasn't very good, it wasn't going to be a very busy morning, so she wasn't in a hurry to be on time...... hubs was not pleased. But I still wanted to give her a chance. I figured she just needed to feel part of the team, feel the empowerment that I give to my staff to take on lots of responsibility and she would get her groove with us.
A few more days passed, she was supposed to come Thursday at 2 and close at 9. She was going to be in charge, I was going to go home, and she would close with the 16 yo. She didn't show at 2. We figured it was a schedule misunderstanding and waited til 3. No Show, No call. 3:30, we left a message at her house. 5:15, her mom called to say she had gone out the night before and hadn't slept at home (same as Sunday). So hubs came to work to relieve me. And he was not only pissed, he was worried. We changed the alarm code and called a locksmith to come the next day to change the locks. We decided that if she showed up at some point, we were going to fire her.
Next morning, Friday morning, still no news. then around 11, her mother strolls in (we met her at the grand opening) and hands me the keys quite sheepishly. She had no answers. Didn't know what was going on, simply knew her daughter wasn't coming back. She tried to get her to call me, felt that her daughter owed me an explanation, but L wasn't interested in explaining. Then, I kid you not, the mother put her own resume on the counter and said: "Well, you must be in a jam. I'll take the job!" Sure! We've had so much luck with your daughter, we'll hire the person who taught her responsibility!
I politely thanked her and told her that for now, we would give our other employees more hours until we found an appropriate candidate. I didn't give her a piece of my mind, after all, it's not her fault her 23 y.o. daughter quit her job, but I couldn't help it: I did tell her that some of my staff have house-sat for me (which it turns out is actually more a favor to THEM than to me!), get to use my car when I'm out of town and can always count on us to help them move, get a good reference for school admissions or other jobs, just that we can be very generous to the staff that gives us all they've got when they are at work. She told me she was very disappointed L didn't realise that this was a really good opportunity for her.
5 years I've been doing this. This is the first person who has EVER quit. People have graduated an moved on, we've fired a few flakes and one guy who was such a bad fit, I still don't know who we chose to hire him (I was very tired that day!!!), but we've never had a quitter, let alone a no-show, who then sends her mother to quit for her.....
Need I tell you that the next batch of candidates will fall in the over-achiever category?