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Fit & Finish – Co-op v.s co-op

Hiring one person to hire another turns out to be a really good move.

October 17, 2016  By Chris Meiorin

This summer I wanted a make a hire here at EuroVinyl Windows. I wanted a fresh set of eyes on the process of an order from the time it is received to the point at which it lands at our customers’ location. I knew what I wanted but was unsure where to go to find such a person or even a job title to plug into a search. “Process Engineer” seemed to have a good ring. A candidate possessing such a title, I assumed, could look at a process and, with engineering, design and implement an efficient workflow.

Knowing what you want is easy. Finding the solution, on the other hand, not so easy.

First, I had to establish if this was a contract position with a set term or a full time job offering. As I needed what might be considered an “operations tune-up” I didn’t necessarily need a full time mechanic. I just wanted somebody to come in, look under the hood, find what needed fixing, get the job done and go home. With that in mind, I figured a consultant might be a good option. They would come in, evaluate the operation, make some boilerplate recommendations and leave. All at a hefty price of course. Another option, perhaps, was a co-op student. A fresh set of eyes for sure and at a price point significantly less than an industry consultant. It would allow me to keep them around a little longer, have them really get to know our business and work with the team here to implement a plan. The project would look good on the candidates resume and possibly result in a full time position. However, I was uncertain about the level of enthusiasm that might come with such a candidate and I knew that, being a co-op position, I would have to work to the school’s timeline rather than our own. That being said, the project budget had me leaning towards a co-op student, because there would be less to lose if the results were not optimal. Decision made. Now to figure out how to make it happen.

Toronto is a large and diverse city with an equally as diverse education system. I didn’t have the luxury of calling up the local college and speaking with co-op coordinator. Before I could even get started, I would first have to figure out what colleges and universities offered the programs best suited to the job description. As I personally make up at least half of the HR department here, I would have to navigate my way through the various college and university departments, write job descriptions, review (and decipher) the prospects courses and grades, set up interviews and conduct the interview itself. With the changing face of modern hiring practices, I might even have to do a background check of the candidate on Facebook or LinkedIn, in neither of which have I any level of expertise or interest. So I did what any self-respecting owner of a small business would do – I hired a co-op to hire the co-op (insert laughing face emoji followed by high-five emoji).

My new HR department now consisted of a third-year sociology student, who was mandated with the task of finding an appropriate candidate to fill the job opening. My new HR representative interviewed me and the rest of the team here to better understand the requirements and job description. Hiring this co-op was relatively easy as she just showed up here at the start of summer break looking for a job. She made her way straight to an interview because she brought me my favorite coffee (which I later found out I paid for) and because she also just happened to be my daughter. One latte later, I had a new HR department and it may well have been the most brilliant move ever executed in Canadian business.

Fast-forward two months and, as I write this, I have a brilliant new individual working as part of our team to assist with the implementation of our ERP software. In fact, we didn’t end up going with a co-op for our original job posting, but rather a recent graduate who not only showed up with an exceptional grade average, but also an unprecedented level of enthusiasm to complete the task assigned. All of this accomplished for not much more than a (really good) cup of coffee.

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