How to Recruit Effectively

1. Defining the "Right" Staff
2. Determining a Salary Range
3. Sources to Utilize
4. Proper Interviewing Techniques+

So, you need to hire a Travel Agent! Well, first and foremost you are probably ahead of your competition, because most agency owners, don't start searching until someone either quits, or, perhaps, you bring on a new corporate account. Searching for the "Right" employee is an on-going truly never ends if you are building your company.

First you must decide what your actual needs are. This is not as easy as it seems. You must take the time to physically write down the specifications of what you "Want", and then what you "Need". These two are usually not the same items.

The "Want" list includes things such as:Excellent Communication Skills, Excellent Corporate Wardrobe, someone possessing Good Longevity, having Top CRS Skills, Strong Customer Service Skills, Ability to write well, not a Clock watcher, someone who's Job is really a Career, someone who won't cost a lot of money, it goes on ...

The "Need" list includes things such as: Hard Working, Top CRS Skills, good Communications Skills, someone who can fit into the office environment, someone who is competitive salary wise, and someone who is going to stay on the job for many years.

You are the Employer. You need to be honest with yourself First. Once you've defined the type of person you want, you must set a salary range.

Most Employers are unaware of current salary ranges, unless they are constantly recruiting new people. The easiest way to do your research, and you must do research, is to first use your network, consortia you belong to, organizations or associations you belong to, etc. Call them. I know it's hard to ask them the question, but you need to do it. Ask them what they pay for a "Top" Corporate Agent, or a "Top" Leisure Agent ... Always say "TOP" - You need to be aware of the top of the range, not the low end. You must only call those companies you "look up to", the "growing" companies, the others will give you lower numbers, but the numbers will not reflect the "truth". You need the "Best" or "Top" people's numbers. You may not need them today, but you need to know the numbers up front.

While you have a moment of their time, ask them what Company Benefits they provide their employees. This will be helpful to you as well.

A few years ago, the standard was for our clients to request a certain number of years in the business, for example: "I want a corporate agent with 5 years corporate travel experience."Whether the number was 5, 7, 10, 12, 15+, today it is less important. Today, the key is Longevity, and how Current. Remember, there are people out there with 20 years of experience that are not worth $10,000 per year! So, recognize that the key is good experience, with top CRS skills, and someone with current experience. Someone knowledgeable with good customer service skills.

Another part of research is to look at the want ads. See what salaries are advertised. Call a reputable employment/personnel agency, they will have the salary ranges for your city. If they specialize in the Travel Industry, they deal with current salaries every day.

Now, you know what your real needs are and have a realistic salary range. Before you start to "Sourcing" potential employees, you must recognize one very important fact ... You are going to pay a higher salary to a new employee than that of the average current employee you have. Is this fair? The answer is NO! But, you say to yourself, "I can't raise all my people, I will go broke!"If this is the case, the only way you can have harmony in your office is to hire someone who has additional skills or background, and thus your current employees will be appeased for the time being. Another technique is to call the new person by a more senior title, for example: Senior Agent, Lead Agent, Supervisor ... Now, this can create another problem. Your current people are going to think and say, "Why not me? I have been dedicated and have worked hard, I have longevity here, and they bring in someone from the outside!!"This is a problem, and one you must face as an employer.

Now you're ready to start your Search. What "Sources" are available?


There are three (3) basic Sources to find suitable or, a better word is, qualified employees:

1. Your Network
A. Associations & Organizations
B. Suppliers' Sales Reps (airline, cruise line, tour op, etc.)
C. Your Friends
Almost never your employees. They will want to bring in their
friends and that is the worst thing you can do.

2. Advertisements
A. Local Newspapers
B. Trade Magazines

3. Personnel/Employment Agencies

What are the "Pro's" and "Con's" of each?

Your Networkis surely the least expensive, but it also takes a very long time, with no guarantees (not of results) of bringing anyone forward. Also, would a Network Associate recommend someone they would like to hire?
NOT!!! If they are that good, any smart company will create the opening. So, while it is the least expensive, it takes a lot of time.

AdvertisementsCheck the rates, the deadlines, and the circulation numbers. Local Newspapers are usually weekly's, while Trade's usually have a 2-week turn-around. Your advertisement must be presented correctly. MOST EMPLOYERS make the same mistakes. The standard largest mistake employers make is that they leave out "Salary".

Now I understand your dilemma, you don't want to state a salary that is viewed by a candidate as much higher than what they are currently earning, because then they will ask for that number ... on the other hand, you don't want to state the real number because you feel, if it is too low, no one will answer the ad ... Am I right? Of course I am. Look at all the employer ads. Almost none of them state their salaries. With over 26 years writing ads all over the US, as well as overseas, I advise you ... You MUST state a Salary, or a Salary Range. You would like to get a lot of responses, Right? Wrong! You want to get only the Rightresponses. Those who qualify for your opening and those who are seeking the salary you are stating.

In sales, if you've taken any sales course, you will remember that your instructor told you "FEATURES" & "BENEFITS". What does your company offer? What are your benefits? What salary do you offer? These items are crucial for your advertisement. It is silly to not put the information in your ad. Don't rationalize that the cost of another few lines of advertisement will cost you too much money. If you don't state your purpose, someone else will, they will have the upward hand.

Lastly, today too many companies list a fax number in their ad. If you were seeking employment, would you want to go with a firm, or even send a resume, when you didn't know who you were sending it to? Of course not. Most employers say they don't want to reveal their name. Why? Embarrassed? You may not want your employees to know you are advertising. They will know anyway. I suggest that your name, Company Name, Address, City, State, Zip Code should appear. Perhaps ask them in your ad to write a narrative why they feel qualified, request a resume, what their current base salary is, and what they expect from any employer. Now, most will not provide what you ask for. Those should go right into the "86" file (garbage can). If they can't follow the simple instructions in an ad, how will they handle all the responsibilities you wish them to handle?

Personnel/Employment Agencies
YES, there is a fee. NO, the employees don't pay the fee. That was in the 70's. The 90's require You, the Employer, to pay the Fee. Fees can be expensive, but we will talk about them in a moment. First, how do you find the proper agency? Yellow pages? Well, if that was the case, my company would be in a lot of trouble, since the first letter of our company is "Y". The best way is to call your other "sources". Who do they use? Call the associations and organizations you belong to, ie: ASTA, etc.

When you find an Agency, ask them right up front, the following questions:

1. Do they specialize in Travel?
2. Approximately how many Travel Placements do they make per
3. What is their Fee? And ask for two examples?
4. What are their Guarantees? (Trial Period)
5. What are their Terms?
6. Ask for Business References (this is crucial. References are very
important in hiring an employee or a vendor)
7. Ask them what type of Turn-Around is expected?
8. Ask them the size of their Database? Or are they going to
advertise the position?
9. Finally ask them for everything they have stated, in writing.

Since our company charges higher fees than most of the others, I will use

our Fees, Terms, and Guarantees as examples.

Fees: 1% per thousand dollars of starting annual salary to a maximum of 35%, which includes Total Compensation Package. So, you think you've got it? You probably think you have, most don't. Let's use an example: If the annual salary is $20,000. what is the fee? Is it A. $200.00B. $2,000.00 or C. $4,000.00Give up? The answer is "C". Another example: the salary is $22,000. What is the fee? Give up? The answer is $4,240.00. For every thousand dollars you add 1%. $10,000. = 10%, $11,000 = 11%, and so on up to 35%. Now you're saying, "boy, I should be in this business, instead of mine" ... Don't believe it's a "piece of cake", it isn't.

Terms: Ours are, full fee is due 14 days from employee's starting date, including weekends. The monies are then held in an escrow account for 16 more days. The total equaling 30 days.

Guarantee (Trial Period): 30 Days

Now you are saying, "So much money in such a short period of time ! I can't know if the person is going to work out..."Well, at our company, we conduct in-depth interviews. All of our recruiters/counselors have been in the Travel Industry a minimum of 7 years, many have over 20 years. We conduct testing where applicable, all CRS tests are available, we always check references, even though many agencies (both personnel and travel) don't, we do. I insist on it. If all this is done correctly, you truly only need a few days to see how the individual interacts with you and the other people in your company. Now you can understand why 30 days is sufficient.

What happens if the person doesn't work out? Well, that's why reputable personnel agencies provide a Guarantee. In my company, if the employee is terminated, within 30 days, you have 1 of 2 options. Either we make a replacement with a new 30 day Guarantee, or we refund your money, less a 10% service charge.

Although I told you we were the most expensive, in our defense I would just like you to hear my quote:

"Remember selecting a recruiter because their fees are lowest is rather like selecting the least qualified candidate because they ask for the lowest salary"

Proper Interviewing Techniques

1. Preparing for the Interview
2. Where & When to Interview
3. The Application Form
4. Interview Questions
5. Reading Body Language
6. The "Clock"
7. Openings & Closings
8. References
9. Determining the "Best"
10. Using the "NO" Word
11. Making the "Offer"

Preparing & Setting Up the Interview
Okay, you now have some viable resumes (because you ran the correct advertisement) and you now must set-up interviews. The best time to interview, believe it or not is during business hours. Most people think it must be done before or after work. There are two (2) problems doing it before or after work, the first is, most applicants want to see your office when it is functioning, not when it is empty. The second is, you never wish to put yourself in "jeopardy" of being alone with a perfect stranger. So, we all know it is very difficult to plan interviews while you are working, but truly you should try to find a time that can work. Remember to tell the applicants to bring a hard copy of their resume and their business references. Also, if you do not have an application card, you may wish to purchase some standard ones from your local stationery store.

How long should an interview take? If you are prepared, the initial interview should take about 45 minutes. Being prepared means you must create your questions in advance and you must write them down.

NEVER ask a Question which can be answered with a "Yes" or a "No". You need to find out as much as you can from these candidates. You will learn nothing witha "Yes" or "No". You also want to "Test" their communications skills, thought processes, etc.

A few sample questions are:

1. Tell me what functions you usually accomplish in an average day? 2. If you have an irate customer on the phone, how do you handle the
3. What destinations do you feel most comfortable dealing with?
4. Why those destinations?
5. Have you been to those destinations? (Wrong Question)
6. What do you expect from your employer?
7. What are you not receiving (from your employer) now?
8. What most interested you in our advertisement?

Don't forget to make the list. You shouldn't really have more than 20 questions on this sheet. You, of course, will be asking a lot more questions, but those will come from the Application Card, or their resume.

Most Companies do too much talking about their company and don't ask enough questions. An introduction of your company can be done in about 10 minutes, if you are prepared with the benefits and features of your company.

When you utilize effective and professional personnel services, they should provide you with much more than just a resume. They should be able to give you a "good look" into the actual person, before you see them.

NEVER ask the "NoNo" questions!!! Are you married? Do you have kids? Are you planning a family soon? Do you like to go out dancing? NO PERSONAL QUESTIONS ARE ALLOWED!!!

Body Language Reading body language is an "art". You will get better at it as the Interviewing Process goes on. I can tell more about a person from their "body language" then probably any other single component. The reason is because body language is usually involuntary. Most candidates don't know how to control theirs, unless they took a course, or have read a lot of books on the subject. For example: Watch their hands, if they fidget, do the "knuckles thing", or tap their fingers, they are not concentrating on your every word. This means they are truly not interested. If this occurs, you can test my theory: ask them a detailed question in the middle of another thought, you will find out what I am saying very quickly. If the candidate is not leaning forward, it should signal another "not interested".

I actually had someone ask me if they could take notes (which usually is fine, and polite of them to ask). This woman opened up a machine with legs, similar to a court reporting machine. She took down my every word. I thought I was at a deposition!

If a candidate doesn't ask any questions, this equals "no interest". If you ask them, "do you have any questions?", you are "begging" them for a question. This is not needed, since they have not asked a question. Generally this is not a person you should be interested in.

The Clock- Always have a Clock on your desk facing you. This will help you focus on your list of questions and keep you within the allotted time frame previously set forth.

Openings and Closings -Most companies do not have a problem with their opening, they should extend their hand for a firm handshake, welcome them to their company, show them a seat and start the procedure. Closings are usually rough for many unskilled interviewers. When you have concluded your interview, simply stand, extend your hand for the handshake, thank them for coming in and walk them out. If they ask you when they can expect an offer or a decision, they actually get a couple of points, but you should just say that all candidates will be notified on the results of their interviews.

References - YOU MUST DO REFERENCE CHECKING, it is tedious, perhaps even boring, and time consuming, but a necessity none the less. If you are using a personnel agency, they should do it for you, but don't assume they will do it. In my firm we not only check references but provide them in writing to our clients with the contact name and phone number. DON'T take "Letters of Recommendation" for granted. I can't tell how you how many letters I have read that sing the praises of a candidate, and yet something doesn't sit right. Then I call and find out the entire letter is "bogus". It is really easy to take a piece of stationery from the firm you used to work for. Many candidates do this ... shame on them.

Determining the Best - Well, you've now interviewed a "bunch" of candidates and some are actually qualified for the job. You've rated their performance on the interview, you've checked their references, you know something about their personality, how well they will fit into your organization, what their salary expectations are, what your budget will allow ... Rate all of the above, Rate the should now have your answer.

Our firm offers a group of "Valued Added Programs" at no pass-along cost to our clients, and these programs sometimes make the selection process a lot easier for our clients. Those programs include: Credit checks, Criminal Reports, Drug Testing, Integrity Tests, and IQ Tests.

Using the "NO" Word - Believe this or not, some companies are bullied into hiring the wrong person. Get used to saying "NO" to those candidates. It, of course, is counterproductive to hire people you do not want.

Making the Offer -Although most companies fight to not do this, offers should always be in writing. Having it in writing it protects you and re- confirms what you are providing the candidate. This way there is no "well, I thought you meant", this way everything is spelled out.

© Copyright Yours In Travel Personnel Agency, Inc. January 1998

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