As a PSAP manager one of the BIGGEST responsibilities is hiring and onboarding new employees. Let's face it, this profession is one where the doors are constantly swinging open with turnover. It's easy to blame the management team, but the issues with retention in PSAPs are much more rooted than what's on the surface of workplace relationships.
Often, PSAP managers find themselves filling vacant positions due to the stressors of the job, the demands of the work schedule, less than appealing salaries/benefits, or lack of training or advancement opportunities due to not having an adequate budget.
When PSAP managers are faced with filling these positions the grueling process of reviewing job applications and weeding out applicants begins. For many this process may include a variety of steps. Some may require observation time, skills testing, oral communications tests, drug screenings, and for all, completing the applicants criminal background check, which unfortunately, eliminates over half the applicant pool.
I can tell you over my career I have reviewed many. I don't know about you, but what I've noticed is the increase of job applications that come across my desk where the applicants are putting less effort into completing. Some applications never even make it through the first stage and that is completing the required fields to show their skill level to even be considered for the position in which they are pursuing. The grammar, the wording, lack of information, sorry to say, is becoming the norm.
So, how do we attract the right talent and fill vacant positions with qualified candidates? Here are some of the things that we're experimenting with...
Not every student is college material, and that's ok. Not all students have the resources or desire for attending college. Many are ready to hit the workforce running. Take this as your advantage and engage with your local high schools or vocational/technical students. Schedule a "Get Your 911 Career Started Day" prior to their graduation and share of the profession; the good, the bad and the ugly. Schedule students for observation time inside your communications center and assign them with a mentor for seeing the work in action. During the observation time, share of the expectations when applying and set them up to be successful in the process.
Not only are we working with the high schools, but we've also partnered with our local community college and serviced agencies for hosting a "Public Safety Job Fair". This allows the 911 center, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency medical services, Department of Corrections, and the community college to engage with students and showcase the different options for employment, as well as educational resources for continued education.
Another valuable resource is your Employment Security Commission. Schedule a meeting for discussing your challenges and share of your requirements as they can assist in looking for qualified candidates who are job seeking for employment or career advancements.
And, if allowed, staffing agencies such as Express Employment Professionals can be another valuable resource worth exploring. If you're not familiar, they are the leading staffing provider in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. Every day, their mission is to help job seekers find work and help businesses find qualified employees.
Now, let's be innovative and get out of our dungeons and behind the scenes offices and engage with the resources in our communities for making our process of reviewing applications less grueling.