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83 term nonprofit provider related that the right people for a Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: paratransit operator position bring customer service skills Ability to read, write, and speak English clearly; with them and that the ideal applicant has previous experi- Ability to navigate the service area through the use of ence interacting with diverse customers, including people maps and/or onboard directional equipment; with disabilities. Often the applicant has prior work experi- Ability to communicate effectively with passengers, pas- ence in jobs that promote the importance of customers to the senger representatives, and system staff; company's growth and well being. Ability to remain calm in emergency situations and Several survey respondents cautioned that individuals who ensure the safety of all passengers and employees; and have experience as taxi operators or over-the-road truck Knowledge of service area. operators may have good driving and map reading skills but may lack the customer relations skills that are necessary for The job descriptions provided by survey respondents and paratransit service, a fact to keep in mind during the pre- selected agencies included the minimum responsibilities employment screening process. described above and other duties necessary to fulfill the para- transit vehicle operator position. Job descriptions requested from and provided by three national paratransit contract oper- Developing a Job Description ators also included the functional aspects of the job and the desired behaviors of persons in the paratransit vehicle opera- tor position. Each job description included a general summary Key Job Description Components of the paratransit vehicle operator position, explaining both Essential functions, typical working conditions and the physical demands of the job. Working conditions and physical demands, and Qualifications for a successful operator. Effective Recruiting Approaches Paratransit providers reported that they use a variety of methods to get maximum return on investment of their recruit- Job descriptions that identify the essential functions of the ment resources and get the "right" mix of potential applicants. job, as well as the working conditions and physical demands Approaches that were identified in the research and considered of the job, help to create a realistic picture for the applicant. effective by the systems contacted include those described in The job description should also define the job so as to attract the following paragraphs. the most appropriate applicants for the paratransit vehicle operator position. Best Practice: Targeted Advertising Paratransit operator job descriptions and job announce- One general manager gives the following scenario that gives ments provided by survey respondents, particularly the sec- a rationale for a more strategic approach to recruitment tions that communicate to potential applicants the attributes advertising: or characteristics of a successful operator's day, were reviewed. The content in these documents was compared to findings Upon arriving at his new assignment, he found that the divi- from the review of literature that focused on transit and related sion had been using the same advertisement in the same publica- industries. tion for 3 to 4 years. He decided to change publications and make TCRP Report 127: Employee Compensation Guidelines for changes to the ad. He made it more colorful; changed the text and Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas suggests the size of the ads, rotating between full page, half page, quarter page ads; and put the face of a smiling operator in the ad. In the gen- following as the minimum job requirements for a paratransit eral manager's words, this approach "prevents complacency" vehicle operator (43): with the publication readers. Education: The following are examples of targeted advertising High School diploma or equivalent. approaches designed to bring in applicants with the great- Experience: est likelihood of success of becoming a paratransit vehicle Previous professional driving experience preferred but operator. not required; Previous customer service experience and experience Specific Language to Targeted Applicant Pools working with persons with disabilities and/or senior cit- izen groups preferred, but not required; and Seattle Personal Transit (SPT) in Seattle, WA, is operated by Safe driving record and clean criminal history. the nonprofit agency, Solid Ground. Figure 8-1 provides an

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84 Are You A People Person? Solid Ground is seeking Paratransit Drivers to provide door to door transportation for elderly and disabled persons. Req: ability to pass background check, have a clean driving record for the past 5 years and be familiar with the Seattle area. PT and FT positions paying $13.25/hr plus benefits. CALL (206) 694-6840 for application, apply at 1501 N 45th, Seattle or www.solid-ground.org. AA/EOE. Figure 8-1. Sample advertisement for ADA paratransit vehicle operators used by Seattle Personal Transit. example of an advertisement it runs to recruit applicants. The advertisement emphasizes that the agency is seeking applicants who enjoy working with people and particularly older adults and persons with disabilities. Key requirements of the job, including a good driving record, a clean background history, and a familiarity with the service area are listed. Figure 8-2. Sample job advertisement used Use of Weekly Community Newspapers by special transit, Denver, CO. One of the ways that paratransit providers target specific audiences is to use newspapers that tend to attract certain Marketing to Specific Geographic Areas audiences. In Denver, CO, one provider finds a free weekly MV Transportation in Orlando, FL, is able to get statistics newspaper, Westword, to be its best source for getting a large from Employment Guide, a publication it uses to advertise number of readers who are looking for jobs in the para- positions, which show the parts of the city from which it gets transit vehicle operator pay range to see the ad. Westword's the most operator applicant inquiries. This newspaper prints description on its website touts its reputation as an alternative a toll-free number in the company's ad rather than its direct newspaper: number; however, the number is linked directly to the com- Since its purchase by New Times in 1983, Westword has grown pany. With that information, company staff is able to obtain into one of the largest alternative weeklies in the country--even geographical information that gives the location from which though Denver is a major battlefield in a daily newspaper war. each call originated. Management finds this to be a good tool Every week, the new edition is eagerly snatched up in college class- for targeting ads to areas where the company wants to get an rooms, coffeehouses, corporate offices and at the State Capitol by increased number of applicants. Subsequently, targeted and faithful readers who appreciate hard-hitting, award-winning journalism. specialized advertising is distributed to those areas, rather than the previous broad-brush advertising. Placing advertisements in Westword is very cost-effective and appears to appeal to those looking for work, especially Marketing to Targeted Demographics individuals who are not likely to purchase a daily newspaper. This contractor's ads specifically state its preference for retiree One nonprofit paratransit service company made a shift in applicants. Management states it probably gets twice as many philosophy about how to recruit the best vehicle operator applicants as its competitors. candidates approximately 1 year ago. The firm decided to not A second contractor in the Denver area advertises in a recruit employees who had worked for another paratransit weekly newspaper published by the Archdiocese of Denver to company, as these operators often bring the prior employer's target job-hunters looking for work in the paratransit vehicle methods of operation with them, which can lead to conflict. operator pay range. The newspaper, Denver Catholic Register, Rather than using the state employment office, community is free to the public, has cost-effective advertising rates and is employment agencies, and other local recruitment sources, distributed widely throughout Denver, often by homeless the company sends job announcements to local churches, individuals. One of this contractor's advertisements, provided which it finds are filled with downsized or retired workers as Figure 8-2, targets community/people-oriented individu- who are looking for a new career. The contractor also found als while emphasizing its friendly, family-oriented working that many of these workers come from corporations and environment, and communicating the requirement of pre- non-transportation positions where good customer service is employment and random drug screens. "part of the job." It has been the company's experience that

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85 applicants from this group tend to possess the most impor- Some paratransit providers also reported success with tar- tant characteristic already: the ability to work with a diverse geted recruitment of employees from the home health care and customer base, including people with disabilities. other social service industries. These employees may be more In carrying out this new recruitment philosophy, the com- likely to bring a customer service attitude and skills in working pany sends a letter to various churches announcing job open- with persons with disabilities to the paratransit vehicle opera- ings and included are descriptions and responsibilities of the tor position. One national company includes the following job with special emphasis placed on working with elderly indi- statement in its comprehensive recruitment strategy: Active viduals and people with disabilities. This approach resulted in and aggressive targeting of applicants who have been employed the employment of eight operators within a short period; all at hospitals and other agencies [serving] of older adults. eight have remained with the company for the past year. While teaching these employees driving skills resulted in longer Best Practice: eRecruiting and Online Applications on-the-road training, the company has found it is worth the investment. Recruiting and screening of paratransit vehicle operator Other providers also reported success with recruiting indi- applicants is a time-intensive process, especially with the high viduals who are retired and who are seeking a supplemental turnover rate that is common in many paratransit environ- income. Older, retired employees have been reported by sev- ments. Recruiters are often required to "fast-track" the review eral providers to be reliable and more oriented toward cus- of applications to reduce the impact of vacant positions on tomer service. They also may be more amenable to working service delivery as quickly as possible, which can lead to a part-time shifts and fewer hours per week. If the individual is superficial analysis of applicants' background, resulting in receiving benefits from his/her prior job, the benefits package inadequate vetting of their fit with the requirements of the job. offered by the paratransit provider may not be a critical con- In order to facilitate the recruitment process, organizations cern. This is a particularly effective strategy in communities are using electronic human resources (eHR) systems. The with significant retirement populations. Job fairs targeted to Brave New World of eHR: Human Resource Management in older job seekers were reported in the national survey to be the Digital Age (44) describes the most common practices as: one successful way to recruit older workers. One Denver RTD contractor states in its advertisements that it is looking for (a) adding recruitment pages to existing organizational web- applicants who are retired (all advertisements are placed in a sites; (b) using specialized recruitment websites (for example, job portals, online job boards); (c) developing interactive tools for free alternative weekly newspaper). processing applications (for example, online applications, email auto responding); and (d) using online screening techniques (for example, keyword systems, online interviews or personality assess- ments). The advantages of eRecruiting include the ability to man- Recruiting Tips age responses, track applicants, identify candidates, maintain hir- ing records in a single organized place, and assist with compliance Consider seeking applicants from among reporting requirements. retirees and other older individuals and/or individuals with experience in the health care One private paratransit provider described the advantages or other social service industries. of using its online application process: Utilize churches or other religious organiza- tions, job fairs for older workers, and ads in [A] paperless application process achieves three things: lowers alternative newspapers to make contact with cost of advertisements; encourages a larger pool of applicants; these target groups of potential applicants. and applicants can complete the application online, at home, or Hire based on attitude and teach driving skills. by coming to company locations. Research completed for TCRP Report 77: Managing Tran- sit's Workforce in the New Millennium (27), found eRecruiting One factor to consider in recruiting older workers is that to be a best practice for making it easy for potential applicants they may be more sensitive to work shifts that do not match to conduct job searches on the Internet to apply for online jobs their lifestyles. While they may appreciate part-time shifts at the Washington Area Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (e.g., 45 hours per day), they may not be seeking or willing (WMATA). WMATA tracks the number of resumes received, to accept evening or weekend shifts. If the managers become number of interviews conducted, and number of hires with more effective in recruiting older workers, they may find it each recruitment. Each application has a number code that beneficial to create part-time work for these operators rather alerts staff as to which medium was used to acquire the than to rely too heavily on split shifts. application.

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86 Several transit systems reported using Internet resources to Referring employees receive $125 when the new hire com- attract paratransit operator applicants. For instance, Greater pletes training and another $125 when the new operator Lynn Senior Services, Inc., in Lynn, MA, uses Craigslist, a cen- completes 90 days on the job. There is no limit on the tralized network of online communities, featuring inexpensive number of referral bonuses that an employee can receive. online classified advertising in a number of categories, includ- Referring employees are paid a bonus of $50 once the new ing a section for jobs. hire completes 6 months of employment. Employees earn a $25 bonus if a referred applicant is hired and successfully completes 3 months of service. In this Employee Referral Bonuses agency, over a 12-month period (May 2008May 2009), Employee referral bonuses can be an effective way to recruit 42 percent of new hires were referred by current or past qualified vehicle operator candidates. Referral bonuses build employees. on "word-of-mouth" recruiting, which was identified in the focus group discussions as a major, and perhaps underappre- Research completed for TCRP Report 77: Managing Tran- ciated, source of job candidates. sit's Workforce in the New Millennium found employee refer- ral programs to encourage internal recruitment to be a best practice within the transit industry. The study report included five examples of referral programs designed and implemented Existing Operators Can Be the by transit agencies. While the amounts of payment differ from Best Employment Ads agency to agency, the concepts of how to make the program meaningful are the same. For instance, in each case the pro- Current employees who are satisfied with their grams are designed in multi-phased bonus formats with the jobs are natural recruiters for paratransit opera- referring employee receiving two or more payments as the tor positions. Employee referral bonus programs new hire reaches specific employment milestones. encourage referrals of potential applicants by existing employees. Hiring Bonuses One national survey respondent, Global Transportation in Various versions of formal employee referral programs Denver, CO, reported that it began offering a $250 hiring bonus to increase the number of qualified vehicle operator were reported by private paratransit companies and transit candidates. The company noted that this hiring bonus offset agencies. The following are a number of employee referral a relatively low $7.00 per hour training wage (2008) and programs discovered during this study: improved the training completion rate as well as recruitment efforts. The hiring bonus effectively increased the training $300 is paid to current employees if both the referring wage by about $3.00 per hour. employee and the new hire are still employed by the organi- zation after 6 months. Referring employees are eligible for an unlimited number Best Practice: Comprehensive of $250 referral bonuses if they refer an applicant who Recruitment Strategies remains employed as an operator for more than 90 days. Described in the following paragraphs are the comprehen- Referring employees are awarded $150 if the new employee sive recruitment strategies being used by a nonprofit paratran- successfully completes six months of employment and sit provider and a national provider of contract paratransit an additional $250 after the new employee's first year of services, which incorporate many of the best practices men- employment. tioned in the previous sections. Referring employees receive a $150 bonus after the new employee has been on board 90 days and $150 after 6 months A Nonprofit Agency. As mentioned previously, Seattle of employment. The referred employee--the new hire-- Personal Transit (SPT) is a transportation program of the also receives the bonuses. nonprofit organization Solid Ground, an agency that provides A bonus of $150 is paid to the referring employee after the a number of human services to individuals in King County, new operator completes 6 months on the job. Washington. SPT uses a variety of methods to recruit employ- The referring employee receives $100 if the new hire ees. Some recruitment approaches, such as newspaper ads, are remains for more than 4 months and another $100 if both fairly traditional; others, such as web-based advertising, are the referring employee and the new operator are employed nontraditional. The organization employs approximately 140 with the organization for more than 12 months. paratransit operators and in 2008 maintained an employee