hired handThe American Staffing Association (ASA) recently highlighted its 2013 Staffing Industry Employee of the Year, Kevin Miller, in the January/February issue of Staffing Success. I encourage you to read the full story but in short, Miller was a recent college graduate facing the same challenging employment landscape as so many other grads. He was interested in a career in marketing and turned to a staffing firm and its capable recruiter for help. Miller was placed with a Fortune 500 company and at the completion of his assignment was offered a permanent position.

His story is one that highlights the best of what the Staffing Industry does for both its clients and contractors. I’ve talked about this before in Temporary Staffing’s Best Kept Secret. Temporary positions offer a great opportunity for both employer and employee to learn about each other in a meaningful way – on the job. As an employer you get to see what this person is really like. Do they fit in well with your team? Do they have the work ethic you need? Are their skills as advertised? It’s hard to evaluate skills and aptitude from just a resume. For the contractor this is also a valuable opportunity to judge whether the prospective employer meets his or her requirements. Do their values and culture align with yours? Is the work challenging and interesting? Are you a good fit with the team? The temporary assignment allows everyone to make an informed decision on whether to offer a permanent position and whether to accept it.

Miller noted that regardless of whether he had been offered a position, the temporary experience would have been valuable since it allowed him to develop new skills and better understand how a large organization functions and how he could fit in and best contribute. Skills you learn on the job stay with you and benefit future employers. Whether you are a recent college graduate looking to learn or a more seasoned professional who wants to add a new proficiency, a temporary assignment can provide the chance to do so.

As a successful college athlete, Miller also encouraged employers to look beyond only the traditional indicators, like GPA, past job titles, or even certain skill sets, and recognize that intangibles can be valuable, sometimes even better, markers of future success. He points out that the drive and determination that successful athletes possess can be channeled at work as well. Their competitive spirit, team attitude, work ethic, and a willingness to be coached, can add up to a great employee. I’ve long suggested that employers should look beyond a list of very precise technical requirements and hire a holistically good candidate who might need a little training on your specific systems or software. You can teach someone the specifics of your company much more easily than you can teach them to be a good team member or to interact with your clients well. Sometimes you can’t compromise on what you need in a candidate but when you have leeway, look around; there are great people who will be stellar employees if you give them a chance.

All in all, Miller’s story is a good reminder of the positive impact that our industry has on employers and employees alike. Nothing is perfect and we should all always strive to do better but I am pleased to be a part of an industry that provides opportunities for people to grow and succeed in their careers, and helps businesses across the U.S. thrive and prosper. We celebrate Kevin Miller’s success and recognize in him the countless other dedicated, talented individuals we work with every day. This is our industry at its best; let’s keep it up!

Jerry Brenholz
President and CEO
ATR International

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