Business Angle: Communication for Employment in the New Economy
Professional Surveyor Magazine - May 2011
Bill Beardslee, PLS, PE, PP
Part 1: From the employer’s view
When the country begins to recover from its current economic woes, survey companies will recall many employees who were furloughed during this crisis. For those positions not filled by returning employees, positions will be available and job advertisements will be placed. Your communication skills are a critical part of the advertisement, application, and interview process regardless of which side of the desk you are sitting on.
The owner or manager who places the help-wanted ad should write it in a clear, concise way with distinct requirements to help diminish irrelevant responses. (This will not eliminate responses from people who apparently can’t read, but it should drastically decrease them. You know the type. You advertise for a party chief with five years of experience in municipal improvements and you get a response from someone who had surveying in college and now works as a carpenter.) If the requirements are too broad, the advertiser will waste precious time sorting through many applications that are clearly not in line with the firm’s needs.
The hiring process should also have a distinct format. If your ads require mailing of resumes, make sure the location for mailing is clear, particularly for firms with multiple offices. The initial sorting of the responses to the ad may be done by someone who has general knowledge of the skills desired. The person who will supervise the new hire should do the rest of the process.
Once the resumes have had an initial sorting, an interview is usually the next step. If the initial interview is to be by telephone, the caller should have a clear speaking voice and an outline of data desired to ensure an equal analysis of each applicant. This will allow for the maximum collection of data to assist in the next process of elimination.
Consider for the phone interview:
- Did you understand the applicants’ answers?
- Did you hear them clearly?
- Did they speak articulately?
- Did they understand your questions?
- Did their answers show an understanding of the position and the company’s needs?
These items all give the interviewer an idea of the applicant’s ability to communicate with others in a crew or department.
For the face-to-face interview, again an agenda is helpful. You are trying now to get a “feel” for the applicant: speaking skills, body language, etc. But remember, if the applicant has gotten this far, you also have another task past qualifying the person: You are now also selling yourself and your company to them. The employment process has to be a two-way street; you have to want them and they have to want you. We have all heard the saying that some employees will change jobs and “go down the street for another nickel.” If the potential employee is interested in only a pay increase, this person most likely would not be a good hire.
In this selling phase, consider:
- Keep your body language positive by leaning forward and intently listening to responses.
- Speak in clear, concise terms. This is particularly important when interviewing someone from outside your geographic area.
- Do not use slang and limit industry jargon.
- Dress and act like a professional. You are the only example the applicant will have for the culture of the firm.
- Have your responses and demeanor make the applicant want to work there.
- Discuss salary last.
Always thank the applicants in writing for their time and tell them how impressed you were with them whether they are the ones being hired or not.
Throughout these steps, your communication skills are front and center. To enhance those skills, in preparation for this process consider taking a workshop or seminar offered by your state association. Continued competency gives you a chance to strengthen your weaknesses and become a better representative of your company through increased knowledge and skill.
Part two of this series will look at this process from the applicant’s side and show how communication skills will increase his or her chances to be chosen.
About the Author
Bill Beardslee, PLS, PE, PPBill Beardslee is the past president of the New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors and their 2006 Surveyor of the Year.
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