Presented at Confluence® By
Harry Chambers, Trinity Solutions, Inc.
P.O. Box 3494, Peachtree City, GA 30269
770-486-0163 800-368-1201 firstname.lastname@example.org
This booklet was produced for America
Outdoors® and may not be reproduced without
the express written permission of America Outdoors®.
HIRING TOP NOTCH EMPLOYEES
By Harry B. Chambers
Finding and hiring top-notch people is one of the biggest challenges facing everyone involved in the
outfitting industry today. The quest for good people is an eternal journey, and no matter how hard you
work to provide exceptional services to your customers and guests, you can only be as good as the
people you hire. The quality of the experience your customers and guests enjoy is determined in huge
measure by the ability and willingness of your employees to do their jobs. Whether it’s seasonal staff or
permanent employees, your ability to attract and hire good people has tremendous influence over your
current and future success, along with continued growth.
The challenge of hiring exceptional people is compounded by many factors. Perhaps most significant is
the multitude of options available to potential employees. There has been an explosion in the number of
companies and related industries that are competing for the same high-quality potential employees.
Never before has the competition to recruit from a dwindling pool of candidates been so fierce. There
has also been a shift in work ethic over the last few years. Employees are motivated and define job
satisfaction very differently today than ever before. Many people would like to experience the lifestyle
jobs in the outfitting industry offer; however, they are reluctant to pay the price of hard work and
dedication required to serve customers and guests.
Changes in workplace law have also increased your accountability and potential liability for the people
that you hire. If an employee has demonstrated past negative behaviors potentially detrimental to your
customers or the overall community, and that information could have been discovered through a
reasonably diligent hiring procedures and background checks, you could be held liable if a related
For example, if you were to hire someone with a history of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
and they repeat that behavior while operating a company vehicle, you would not only be responsible for
any damage they caused, you could be vulnerable to accusations of negligent hiring. Potential lawsuits
could be filed against you and your company.
The best way to avoid problems is not to hire them. Increasing the number of possible employees to
select from is one way to increase your chances of choosing quality, non-problematic employees. When
the potential hiring pool is small, you are forced to hire whoever is available. When the pool is large,
you can hire the best available.
One of the most beneficial strategies you can implement to increase the availability pool is to consider
alternative recruiting sources. Some of these you may already be using; not all will necessarily apply to
your hiring circumstances. However, all are being used effectively in the outfitting industry.
Your Marketing Materials
It is relatively easy, with little or no cost, to add a recruiting reference to your current marketing
materials. Add a short recruiting statement, which could read:
“Do you know anyone who would be interested in job opportunities in the outfitting industry? Life
enhancing knowledge and skills are learned, including safety, leadership and ecology. If you know of
anyone who may be interested in working in a highly collaborative team environment, please contact us
Use Technology Effectively
Include a recruiting appeal on your website. (Again, an extremely easy and low cost tool) “Click here for
information on how you can become a part of the exciting outfitting industry. We are looking for
exceptional people who have the ability and willingness to learn the outfitting and leadership skills of our
industry and work in a highly collaborative outdoor team environment.”
There are also many Internet-related services that can expand your access to highly qualified potential
Bill Berg is the President and Founder of Cool Works, a web-based employment site listing jobs in great
places, based in Gardiner, Montana. Cool Works serves resort-related industries such as canoe and kayak
outfitters, national parks, ski resorts, summer resort, guest and dude ranches, outdoor adventure programs,
camps, and cruise lines. The employers who list jobs on Cool Works fill 75,000 primarily seasonal jobs
each year. Cool Works attracts people to their web site who have an interest in unique employment
opportunities where they can find potential jobs listed by geography or industry. They can select a specific
state or part of the country, and discover opportunities by industry segment, such as rafting outfitters,
guest ranches, and national parks. The internal Cool Works search engine also allows potential candidates
to sift through the entire website. Bill said: “Many outfitters tell us that we are their best and most cost
effective source of new hires, and it’s not unusual for us to hear that we are becoming their only recruiting
tool. Some people are finding that it’s no longer cost effective to run want ads and do road trips when they
are finding what they need on the Internet.”
Cool Works attracts diverse people from college students to twenty-somethings who haven’t yet
established their working careers, as well as career changers and people who may have an interest in
taking a sabbatical from their work in the real world and focusing on something new and different.
Employers are also finding a wealth of potential employees in the demographic area Cool Works refers to
as “the older and bolder” work group. These are people in their mid 40s to 70s who are often available in
pairs and frequently bring their own housing with them. Bill said: “If you can accommodate their RVs or
alternative housing arrangements, they can be an excellent source of help, and by nature, most likely will
not have to leave before your season is complete.”
Another highly attractive demographic group that positions listed on Cool Works appeals to is
internationals. Frequently these are students who work through the J- 1 Work and Travel Visa program.
Bill stated: “Many employers tell us that internationals bring an exceptional work ethic, which even raises
the bar of performance for other employees. Many times, because of their school holiday dates,
international students may not have to return to school until September or October, and can help you
through a significant staffing challenge.”
Students traditionally have been a rich and valuable reservoir for potential employees. Most schools
welcome visits on campus for interviews and are anxious to assist their students in finding summer jobs.
Many outfitters have had success in targeting specialized schools or areas of study for recruiting purposes.
Culinary school students, those studying in hospitality related programs, and botany, geology and other
ecology related areas are also great sources for seeking potential employees.
An excellent opportunity, frequently overlooked with colleges and universities, is the potential for
Hiring Top Notch Employees by Harry Chambers provided by America Outdoors®
establishing internship programs. These programs provide the best of both worlds for all involved.
Students not only gain valuable work experience, they can earn external study credits applying toward
graduation. Some outfitters perceive internships are the domain of only large corporations and haven’t
pursued these opportunities. In truth, even extremely small organizations can use internships effectively.
Typically, schools within a six-hour (one day) drive from your location can yield the best results;
however, you can also target schools with specific programs of study appealing to you or your business.
Contact the schools and explain that you would like to explore the possibility of establishing an internship
program and most will be happy to share the guidelines and discuss the opportunities.
Another advantage of students involved in internship programs is they are frequently able to extend their
time of service into late summer and early fall, avoiding the typical migration pattern of seasonal help
returning to school before your season has concluded.
Bob Westbrook, of Southeastern Expeditions, has had successful experiences with internship programs.
He said: “Internships are exciting opportunities. I have actually found them to be valuable in helping to
develop our own existing managers because they have responsibilities to execute the internship program
to be sure we meet the established criteria. Interested outfitters should contact the colleges and universities
in their area, and many times they have specific people whose job is to manage programs to place interns.
Recreation departments of universities can really be helpful. For instance, at Western Carolina University
they have a large outdoor recreation program, so it’s easy to approach them and they are anxious to
participate. Ohio University is another school that comes to mind that has a reputation for providing
exceptional programs in outdoor recreation. Another area of interest is retail studies. The University of
Tennessee in Knoxville offers a retail sales or retail merchandising degree. Their students can do an
analysis of retail store operations, and often their recommendations on how to increase sales and the
merchandising of products can be very helpful.”
There are professional associations whose members may benefit from your employment
opportunities. Some associations may be willing to offer credit toward continuing education
requirements for members who achieve certain predetermined levels of professional growth and
achievement. You can develop an employment program to meet these criteria. State teacher’s
associations can be an excellent source of high quality potential employees.
Bob Westbrook said: “Hiring school teachers is a great fit. Usually they are mature and have a high sense
of professionalism. They are willing to be educated in terms of the outdoor skills we require, and they
understand the importance of education. We have had some challenges in the past few years as the school
systems around the country begin to explore year round schedules, and for many, the summer vacation
time has become compressed. This has impacted teachers who may have to start back sometime in early
August when our season is still running. This impacts our ability to run the kind of numbers and provide
the kind of service we desire because these professional educators usually end up in positions of
responsibility in our outdoor recreation product, such as trip leaders and senior staff. When we lose those
people, it becomes difficult to put out the kind of quality product we demand. We have also found
teachers can continue to help us on weekends, but often this availability can be impacted by their
extracurricular activities. Men and women involved in coaching have been especially helpful; however,
sometimes the seasons are in conflict.
Along with colleges and universities, your recruiting efforts with professional associations are most
effectively done during your non-peak times of the year. Initial contacts and the establishment of
qualifying criteria are addressed when you are not in your peak season demand. It is fair to say the actions
you take during your off-season can significantly impact the success of your recruiting efforts.
Hiring Top Notch Employees by Harry Chambers provided by America Outdoors
Nontraditional Working Environments
Many people today are no longer working in traditional five day, eight hour work cycles. Three twelve-hour days
with four consecutive days off, or four ten-hour days with three consecutive days off, are becoming more
commonplace. There are many potential employees who would welcome the opportunity to spend their days off
working with you and getting paid for doing a job they would truly enjoy. For example, many outfitters have
found local firefighters, police officers and EMT personnel to be an excellent source of high quality employees.
Some, such as firefighters, work a series of twenty-four hour shifts with extended time off between duty
responsibilities when they are available to you. Typically they are physically fit, highly trained and capable of
dealing with stress and pressure situations. These men and women are a valuable source of high quality
Your current employees can be one of your best sources for recruiting new people. Offering a bonus or
finder’s fee (perhaps linked to longevity) to employees who refer qualified candidates that you ultimately decide
to hire is a great way of generating interest. Many industries utilize employee referral programs and they can be
especially appealing for the outfitting industry. Existing employees generally respond well to having input into
the selection concerning the people they will not only work with, but be a part of the living community.
Hiring bonuses can range from a set fee to a small percentage of the new employee’s earnings. (As an example,
2% of the new employee’s seasonal earnings could be paid to the referring employee at season’s end.)
As highly trained men and women separate from the military, they frequently are uncertain about their future
career path. For some, the opportunity to work in the outfitting industry for a season or two would be of great
interest. Contact the military installations in your area. Tell them of your interest and inquire as to the best way to
communicate with those who will be leaving the service during times that align with your hiring needs.
The hiring challenges facing outfitters today necessitates making changes in your recruiting efforts. It is
important to increase the number of potential employees by developing alternative recruiting pools. There is no
magic bullet. Continue to recruit in the traditional ways that created past success and also look for alternative
sources and methods that will allow you to expand your recruiting efforts. Utilizing as many of these recruiting
alternatives as possible will increase the likelihood you will be able to choose your employees from the cream of
the crop. Hire top-notch people to provide top-notch customer and guest service.
Harry E. Chambers is the author of The Bad Attitude Survival Guide: Essential Tools for Managers and
Finding, Hiring and Keeping Peak Performers, published by Perseus Books for release in the spring of
2001. Harry is well known throughout the outfitting industry and is a frequent presenter at the America
Outdoors® yearly Confluence®.
Hiring Top Notch Employees by Harry Chambers provided by America Outdoors
TODAY’S HIRING CHALLENGES
The influence of technology
The drought of people
Increased accountability and liability
Fierce recruiting competition
The unending hiring quest
TODAY’S RECRUITING POOLS
Youth minister referrals
State or public job service
Hiring Top Notch Employees by Harry Chambers provided by America Outdoors®
Effective Phone Screens
1. Initial contact
2. Establish rapport
3. Address application or resume - Flags or
4. Prepare to answer typical, predictable candidate questions
5. Make your inclusion/exclusion decision
THE 2-PART INTERVIEW
Buying -- Selling
“The best predictor of future performance is past behavior.”
1. Short opening statement
3. 80/20 rule
Discover what they want in their next job and sell it to them.
Why should they come to work for you? What makes you different?
3 Key Points:
______________ ______________ ______________
Establish performance standards
What will they learn? How will their value be raised?
Respond to their questions
Prepare them to sell the job
The 12 Most-Asked Interview Questions
1. If I were to offer you this position, how do you imagine that you would spend
your first two weeks?
2. Other than the ones required, what skills do you have that you feel could
enhance this position?
3. Please tell me about a specific area of responsibility that you have really
4. Describe your most ideal and least ideal manager/supervisor.
5. When, in a workplace setting, were you a member or a leader of a team?
6. Tell me about an accomplishment that you are truly proud of.
7. Tell me about a time when you had to go “above and beyond the call of duty.”
8. What does your current supervisor do to get the best out of you?
9. How would you define a successful career?
10. Give me an example of a crisis situation you were involved in and how you
reacted to it.
11. Please give me three adjectives that others would use to describe you.
12. When will you know that you have “made it?”
Unfair Pre-Employment Inquiries
(Please Note: The following is general information for discussion
purposes and is not to be considered as legal opinion or guidance.)
Any questions that suggest a preference for persons less than 40 years of
All inquiries relating to arrests.
Any inquiry about citizenship status. (It is fair to ask if the applicant can
provide proof of citizenship, visa, or alien registration number after
Questions that divulge conviction information not related to fitness to
perform a particular job. Also unfair are questions not solely related to
convictions or prison release within seven years of the date of job
Specific inquiries about the candidate’s spouse, the spouse’s
employment or salary, children, child care arrangements, or dependents.
Inquiries that are so general they would reveal handicaps or health
conditions not related directly to fitness to perform the job.
Any questions not related to actual job requirements
Inquiries related to applicant’s marital status. Also unfair are checklists
that ask the applicant to indicate a category representing marital status,
such as Mr., Mrs., Miss.
Questions that ask about discharge; any request for discharge papers; an
inquiry about the applicant’s experience in other armed forces.
All inquiries about a name (or its origin) that divulge marital status,
lineage, ancestry, national origin, or religion.
Any inquiry concerning the applicant’s lineage, national origin, descent,
birthplace, or mother tongue. (The same kinds of inquiries about the
applicant’s spouse are also unfair.)
Any questions requiring the applicant to list the organizations, clubs,
societies, or other similar groups to which he or she may belong.
Any request for a photograph prior to hiring.
All inquiries regarding pregnancy, including medical history.
Race or Color
Inquiries that seek information about race or color of skin, hair, etc.
Any inquiry about the names and addresses of the candidate’s relatives
that might reveal discriminatory information.
Religion or Creed
Questions about religious choices, including holidays observed.
Any inquiry about the names or relationship of the applicant to persons
with whom the applicant resides or any inquiry that seeks to learn
whether the applicant owns a home.
Any inquiry in this area is considered unfair. (Gender or frequency!)
ABOUT YOUR FACILITATOR
Harry E. Chambers
The Bad Attitude Survival Guide: Essential Tools for Managers. Reading, MA: Addison
Longman, 1998. A guide for conquering negativity, improving performance and enhancing
Getting Promoted: Real Strategies for Advancing Your Career. Reading, MA: Perseus Books,
No Fear Management: Rebuilding Trust, Performance and Commitment in the New American
Workplace. Co-authored by Dr. Robert Craft. Delray Beach, FL: CRC/St. Lucie Press, 1998.
Harry E. Chambers brings 30+ years of practical business experience to his content-rich
presentations. His experience ranges from an hourly employee to executive officer in the sales,
operations, training and administrative areas. He is President of the Atlanta-based
training/consulting company, Trinity Solutions, Inc.
Harry has trained, facilitated and consulted with Georgia College, Radford University and James
Madison University. He has worked extensively with industry leaders such as AT&T, Pratt and
Whitney, and Lucent Technologies, as well as many public sector and non-profit agencies. He
has presented training programs for noted companies such as Career Track, Career Track
International, Skill Path Seminars and Fred Pryor.
He is a regular contributor to Executive Excellence Magazine and he is frequently quoted in
various publications and training journals. His books are published internationally and have been
translated into the Korean~, German and Chinese languages. He is a frequent guest on radio talk
shows discussing “Negativity in the Workplace” and “Dealing with Bad Attitudes” along with a
variety of management and leadership issues.
Education: B.S. Degree from Kent State University
Work History: Business Owner
Sales and Administrative Management
Corporate Trainer for Business, Government, Healthcare and Non-Profit Agencies
Harry’s program topics include:
Performance Driven Leadership
Coaching and Teambuilding Skills
Maintaining a Positive Focus: Overcoming Negativity in Today’s Workplace
Surviving Bad Attitudes, Poor Performance and Organizational Change
Establishing Successful Workplace Relationships
Above and Beyond Customer Service
Navigating Your Next Promotion
Satisfied clients include:
General Mills Make-A-Wish Foundation
U.S. Department of Energy U.S. Postal Service
I.B.E.W. Kelly Services
Sikorsky Aircraft I.B.M.
Bell South Delta Air Lines