Making the cut: Employers address work ethic
Educators can educate and trainers can train, but unless a person is willing to work and be part of a team, employers may look elsewhere to fill an open position.
Those ideas were repeated by many employers in the area with most saying work ethic and attitude played just as big a role in the employment decision as proper training and education.
Autherine Davis, human resources manager at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital, said proper education is at the top of the list of what is considered with potential employees — but the impression a candidate makes during an interview can make or break their chances of being hired.
“We have so many areas of work here that our workforce covers a large group of jobs,” Davis said. “It doesn’t matter if a person comes in hoping for a position as a nurse or as a worker in dietary or environmental services, how they present themselves will make a big difference on whether or not they are considered for the job.”
Davis — and many other industry leaders in the area — say there is a need now for educators and trainers to include a course on how a person can sell themselves to potential employers.
“I know at one time there had been some talk of a ‘Dress for Success’ program here that would teach people how to complete applications, create a resume and how to dress for an interview situation,” Davis said. “I don’t think that class has been held, but it is certainly needed. There is a certain standard that every employer looks for in the people they hire. If you don’t go into an interview and impress the person conducting the interview, there’s a good chance you won’t get the job.”
Mike Dorso, owner of McDonald’s in Brewton, said his potential employees can be different as far as educational backgrounds, but based on comments from other employers, that may be where the differences end.
“I’ve had people come in filthy, dirty fingernails, barefoot,” Dorso said. “I can’t have that in this business. Work ethic is gone these days.”
Dorso said his business is service-oriented and he must choose employees that keep that in mind as they seek a job at McDonald’s.
“We are in the customer service industry here,” Dorso said. “Service is happening here. Being fast and friendly is critical in our business. When I look at potential employees I look for people skills, friendliness and the ability to be team players and get along with everyone. Having common sense is always a plus.”
Some interviewers say potential employees don’t give their full attention to the interview process thereby cutting their chances of getting the job to almost nothing.
Heather Walton, human resources director at T.R. Miller Mill Company, said some candidates for jobs at the facility seem uninterested in actually getting the job.
“I have seen people slouch in their chair during an interview as if they were uninterested,” Walton said. “People come in dressed inappropriately for the interview or even show up late for the interview. I have seen people act like we owe them a job instead of wanting a job. Sometimes, they make us pull any information out of them past a yes or no answer.”
Carla Carpenter, human resources director at Frit Car, has had similar experiences during her time with the company.
“We have had people come in for an interview dressed inappropriately many times,” Carpenter said. “I’ve had people who have texted messages during an interview or even answered phone calls on their cell phones during an interview. It’s just unacceptable to do that during an interview.”
Walton said although skills are great pluses when it comes to landing a job, it isn’t the only thing employers are looking for in an employee.
“When we interview potential employees at T.R. Miller Mill Company we are looking for a respectful candidate to share their experiences with us to let us know if they are a good fit for a certain position,” Walton said. “We have a ‘pay for skills’ policy which means every employee in a laborer position starts at the entry level or level one depending on their experience. All employees have the ability to work their way to the next level. It’s totally up to them to prove it.”
Walton said training is always necessary on the job and staff work at training fellow employees — if the trainee is willing.
“In production, we can train anyone who has a good attitude, shows up for work on time and has the ability to comprehend directions,” Walton said. “If they are lacking in those categories, we can’t hire someone for fear of them either getting hurt, getting co-workers hurt or making their team fall short of production goals because they don’t find it necessary to show up for work on time or at all in a safe working condition.”
Carpenter said her company is looking for similar attributes in employees with the main quality sought being a good attitude toward work.
“We are looking for people who are motivated, willing to be here every day and on time, work hard and work to excel at their job,” Carpenter said. “We have a very unique work environment and we don’t expect that everyone would know how to do this job walking in the door. We train our people, but we need them to be here and be willing to work and learn. Nine out of 10 times, we’re looking for attitude as much as ability.”
Walton said the lack of basic skills for some candidates leaves much to be desired by employers in the area.
“Right now, we are running into candidates — especially younger generations — that turn in incomplete applications and resumes that have tons of errors,” Walton said. “Futher, the last five conditional job offers we’ve extended have had two positive drug tests.”
Davis said being prepared for a job interview goes beyond getting a high school or college education.
“It’s all about presentation,” Davis said. “A potential employee needs to be a salesman when they come for an interview. Sell me on why you are the person that should be hired.”