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Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago

NewHire spent half of the day Monday, January 19 at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago.

NewHire is a recruiting software company. When you think “software company”, you think “computers”, not people. Computers are great. But, when is the last time you saw a computer do THIS?

Bob Framarin dog kiss

Bob, a NewHire account manager, and Seymour, a Chihuahua, hanging out at the Anti-Cruelty Society.

Eddie accountant puppies

Eddie, a numbers guy, is also a puppies guy. Who knew?


That’s right. At NewHire, we do things a little bit differently. We’re not just a few lines of code that make life a little easier. We are also real, reliable people. When you call us, a human answers the phone. Unless, of course, we’re at the Anti-Cruelty Society spreading the love with these adorable little furballs.

dog behind bars smile

Eagle Eye is an adult Saint Bernard. He was so happy to see us that he smiled for a photo!

mad cat stare

Pandora, a calm and cool female adult Shorthair mix, was less impressed.

cute Chihuahua wink

Seymour, a 2 month old and part of a set of triplets (aptly named Phillip, Seymour, and Hoffman,) joined us for arts and crafts time!

Conor Roach puppies

Here’s Conor, a staffing coordinator at NewHire, with Phillip and Hoffman.

The Anti-Cruelty Society welcomed NewHire with open arms, not just to play with the pets they have up for adoption, but to help provide them with easy-to-make beds, tug-toys, cat-scratchers, and various other play-things.

Chihuahua homemade dog toy

Seymour even made off with one of his own…

dog covered in fabric

…and he got a little tied up in the fun.

As happy as we were to give back, we couldn’t have done it without the kindness and welcoming help of our friends at The Anti Cruelty Society.

NewHire anti-cruelty society team

The afternoon group (left to right) Bob, Alicia and Sean, with some of the supplies we helped make.

If you wish to visit the Anti-Cruelty Society to adopt a new pet, help care for the facility, or donate, visit them online at

Anti-Cruelty society dog paw

See you soon!

You’ve narrowed your candidate pool down to a chosen few and are ready to check the backgrounds of your top candidates. Criminal background checks are in order. After all, you don’t want to hire a criminal, right? Seems simple, but like most issues in recruiting and hiring, the process can be complex with hidden pitfalls.

conviction records

Lest you think that this problem doesn’t come up very often, take a look at the front page of the Wall Street Journal from August 19, 2014. The article reports that the FBI criminal database contains arrest records for 77.7 million Americans, an astounding 33% of adults.

Perhaps the most common pitfall for employers is not understanding the difference between an arrest and a conviction in making hiring decisions. Here is the difference according the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

Difference Between Arrest Records and Conviction Records

The fact that an individual was arrested is not proof that he engaged in criminal conduct. Therefore, an individual’s arrest record standing alone may not be used by an employer to take a negative employment action (e.g., not hiring, firing or suspending an applicant or employee). However, an arrest may trigger an inquiry into whether the conduct underlying the arrest justifies such action.

In contrast, a conviction record will usually be sufficient to demonstrate that a person engaged in particular criminal conduct. In certain circumstances, however, there may be reasons for an employer not to rely on the conviction record alone when making an employment decision.

Bottom line: You shouldn’t deny employment to a candidate based on an arrest record.

conviction records hiring, employee criminal background check

Even more so, you shouldn’t go Googling around looking at “mug shot sites” to find out if your potential new employee has ever been arrested. Conviction records are another matter. You generally can (whether or not you should is another matter) use criminal conviction records to deny employment. The most common exception to this is if you are engaging in pattern of discrimination against a protected category of people and using criminal conviction records for crimes unrelated to job duties to deny employment.

So what’s an employer to do? Here are some basic rules:

  1. Do NOT use arrest records to make hiring decisions.
  2. Do ask if candidates have been “convicted of a felony.”
  3. Do inform candidates that you will be doing pre-employment backgrounds and obtain the candidates’ written consent.

One thing that you can do to work around this process is ask candidates if there is anything you will find on their background check that they’d like to tell you before you run it. It is much easier to deny employment to someone who has lied in the current recruiting process than for any kind of past action.

The takeaway here is that you cannot use arrest records when hiring. You can use conviction records, but you cannot use them to discriminate. Essentially, if the conviction directly affects the potential hire’s ability to do the job, you can use it. If it is unrelated, you may be at risk.


Sometimes I worry. I’m a woman and “worry” is one way that I describe what I do when I think about an issue over and over again, searching for the best option or solution.  I could just as easily call this “problem solving” or “troubleshooting” or maybe just plain old “planning.”

I worry about family stuff for sure; my kids and their partners, my parents, and my friend’s challenges. I also worry about work.

I’m business owner and entrepreneur – two things I never planned on being; I didn’t study business and I learn on the job. In school I studied biology – and worked as a research biologist for a while. I learned to gather information and use that to make the next decision. And I learned that the solution that looks obvious can be dead wrong.

One thing I worry about is my staff. I’m not alone, I know. I worry about who to hire, and how to train the new person. I worry that the work is getting done – with excellence.

I try to put systems and processes into place that will alleviate worry about the regular tasks that our company has to do to be successful.

I’m learning that worry is a motivational force in my life. So for 2014 I’m resolving to try to worry about unique challenges – so that this year I can find new, creative and better solutions.

A recent business blog from the Huffington Post suggested that 2014 is the year of workplace reinvention. The blog explored the benefits of Results-Only Work Environment and Self-Managed organizations.

These ideas seem great. But I’m not wholly convinced. I’d love to feel secure that everything at our company was running smoothly without ever asking for a project update or report. It would be even better if I knew that my employees held each other accountable for excellence and on-time delivery etc. I would love it if they could do their jobs any time any where, in a way that wouldn’t cause me endless worry.

Is it possible? What can I do, as an owner and entrepreneur, to help my staff achieve a workplace re-invention that works for them, for me and for the profitability of the company in 2014?

I try to hire people who are naturally rewarded by the tasks of the job. I try to foster team work. I try to answer most questions with a question. I try to provide enough information about our strategic goals that we can all paddle in the same direction — all year long. But it’s hard. My tendency is to tell people what to do and how to do it — because after all – I’m the boss.

The funny thing is that when I started answering questions with questions – better solutions and better work was produced. Projects seem to go better, faster, and have a positive outcome when I get out of the way. I’ve been rewarded for taking the risk.   Is that surprising?

I’m committing to continue to shift my leadership and management strategies to a results oriented environment, even though sometimes, and for some jobs, time and location are important too.

Introducing Goldie!

Anastasia Tesfaye —  November 9, 2013 — 1 Comment

Check out our new cartoon!

NewHire and Goldie

Summer is in full swing and NewHire got up close and personal with our new friend at the Shedd Aquarium. We were able to meet one of the Shedd’s penguins, through their Penguin Encounter program. A Shedd trainer gave us insight on the behaviors of penguins, and we learned about what it takes to care for the penguins the aquarium.  As an added bonus, the Shedd has a baby penguin currently on exhibit!


Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium currently has two species — Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins. We got to meet a Magellanic penguin!

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NewHire’s penguin closeup shot.

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Photo courtesy of SharpShooter Imaging.

How are you spending the summer?

Hiring is not easy for businesses no matter the size – big or small. They share the same pain of hiring, but the effect of a new employee at a small business is completely different than that of a large firm.

Interview picture

Small business hiring is risky business

For small businesses, the pressure is on. A bad hire represents a sunk cost of thousands of dollars and a whole lot of time wasted. This is a drastic move; a smaller budget means that each new hire is a major undertaking. The smaller the company, the more significant that portion of the budget that will be tied up in that person. In the event that the new employee is not a good fit, a significant financial hit will be taken by the company.

On the other side of the coin, if a company like Microsoft is hiring for an entry level sales rep, they can handle losing a few thousand dollars on getting the wrong person. Surely they would prefer to have the right person at every position, but it won’t financially cripple a major corporation to make a couple of mistakes in the hiring department.

Small businesses don’t hire as much

CareerBuilder recently published their job forecast for the 2nd quarter of 2012. Among the many questions that business owners were asked, one stands out: “In the second quarter, does your company plan to increase, decrease, or make no change to its number of full-time, permanent employees?” The answers shed a lot of light on the hiring habits of companies, based on their size.

• 20% of small businesses (50 or less employees) said yes, they are planning to hire someone in the 2nd quarter of 2012
• 22% with less than 250 employees said yes
• 25% with less than 500 employees said yes
• 38% with over 500 employees said yes

So what does this tell us? Small businesses don’t hire as much as larger businesses. As a result, they don’t have much practice or experience which makes hiring a new employee even more difficult.

They also don’t have as many resources. Many times, small businesses don’t even have an HR person, let alone an HR department. In those cases, we find that the hiring is done by either the owner or another employee whose job is typically not HR-based. This takes more time and effort from the entire staff to get the employee trained and on-board, which takes away from productivity and ultimately costs more money.

Small businesses have much more to lose

This isn’t to say that a bad hire doesn’t affect a large company. However, if a company with 10 employees hires someone who ends up being bad for the organization, that’s 10% of their staff. The investment for a small company represents a much larger portion of the company than it does in a large corporation. As such, small-to-midsized businesses need to find the best candidate on their first attempt because they have much more to lose.

As cliché as it may sound, one employee to a company of 750 is like a drop in a bucket. Even if that drop is not as pure as the rest of the water, it’s going to spread so thin that no one will even notice. If that one employee is not working out, they’ll disappear one way or another and the company will continue on.

So how do you make it easier?

Preparation is key! Plan out a hiring process that covers everything from crafting an effective job description, to knowing who’s in charge of managing the hiring process and building an employee on-boarding program. Here’s a few documents we give our clients to help them do this:

  • Employee Value Proposition This document will help you craft your “sales pitch” to prospective employees. It’ll help uncover the key selling points of  the job and what makes your company a great place to work.
  • Crafting an Effective Job Description Bad job descriptions result in poor candidates. Using your EVP as your guide, this document will help you write a great job ad which in turn will help you build larger and better quality candidate pools.

We’d love your feedback; what kind of hiring challenges does your small business face?

If you’ve been worrying that you have been paying employees as contractors, but afraid of the consequences of fessing up, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a new program just for you.

Making use of the carrot-and-stick approach, the IRS has promised small business owners a chance to correct the employment classification of contract employees. At the same time, the IRS is promising to crackdown on mis-classifications with fines, penalties and back taxes.

For a limited time, the IRS will allow an employer to re-classify contractors to employees with about a 1% back tax payment, according to the IRS website. There are certain eligibility requirements that must be met and you should definitely consult with you accountant and employment attorney before applying for the program.

Of course, the issue that most employers face is the ambiguity of the classification process. Who should be a contractor and who should be an employee? Here the IRS is not providing much help. As quoted in today’s Wall Street Journal, below is the IRS guidance on that subject:

There is “no magic or set number of factors that ‘makes’ the worker an employee or an independent contractor.” Here’s a link to the IRS guidance on the subject and good luck…

So it remains up to the employer to decide on the correct classification. Going forward, the IRS promises a crackdown on misclassification, leaving business owners in a familiar, “You can pay me now or pay me later” conundrum. Employees, with their associated costs like payroll taxes, benefits and unemployment costs, are expensive. Independent Contractors are less expensive – unless an employer is found to owe back taxes, insurance, penalties and fines.

This article from the Wall Street Journal serves as an important reminder to employers that their employees’ perspectives matter. More than 75% of “departing employees” say they would not recommend their employer to others,” a 33% increase since 2008.

While helping hundreds of companies hire thousands of employees we’ve learned firsthand what happens when an employer’s reputation is “bad” or their employment “brand” is tarnished. Job candidates know; they find out through the grapevine or read about the company on-line. has a “forum” section filled with negative comments by employees about specific named employers! Worse yet, there are websites allowing publication of “rants” about jobs and bosses. These “rants” are not edited, reviewed or verified, but they are on the web and can cause you harm.

When former employees speak negatively about their experience, future recruiting is impacted. What looks like a great job to fill on paper, can become very difficult to fill in fact.

Not long ago we worked with a client to fill an operations management job in a manufacturing environment. While we got about 200 candidates for the job, very few were local. The job, in a rural location on the east coast, had great salary and benefits. The job description read well too.

As the recruiting process dragged on, I had a chance to ask a friend who lived and worked in a related industry nearby our client’s plant if he knew anyone to refer for the position. His answer said it all: “No one I know would work there.”

A little more digging revealed that the company suffered from high turnover and low morale. Management tended to be erratic and alienated employees. Everyone is familiar with these work environments and tries to avoid them.

This can become a vicious cycle: poor employers attract poor employees, who bad-mouth the employer (while working at the company and after leaving).

What to do?

Focus on making your place of employment the best it can be for employees. Treat employees with respect at ALL times, but especially when they are departing.

If an employee leaves for a different job, thank them for their service and wish them well in their future. Don’t complain that you trained them and now they’re taking what they know and moving on.

If you must fire an employee, thank them for the service, acknowledge their feelings, sympathize when possible and help them toward their next job as best you can. Don’t yell, threaten, or scold. Don’t engage in a conversation rehashing past problems or reasons for the termination. When possible, ease them out of the position, do what you can to make it an amicable separation. Remember, if the employer is unhappy with the employee, the converse usually applies.

Understand the legal liability around each particular termination situation (and you should always consult an employment attorney). But it is probably more important to ensure that employees, exit with no hard feelings.

Working to build goodwill and a good employment reputation, leads to better employees and happier customers… a virtuous, rather than a vicious, cycle.

If you have specific questions please call or write!

Today’s reports from the Institute of Supply Chain Management indicate that manufacturers had better than expected results for June, especially in the Chicago Region.

We already knew this from the activity of our clients. In fact, we are seeing surging recruiting activity across several sectors. And, lots of folks continue the hunt for good sales reps.

No doubt that sectors (construction, for instance) are still in trouble. No doubt that we all have a long way to go to get back to where we want to be, but…

It’s time for some OPTIMISM and courage in the face of adversity. We can’t let every setback cause us to think that world is going to come apart again tomorrow.

So let’s celebrate the Fourth all out and let’s get back to building something together on Tuesday!